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Published in 1891, Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles is now considered a masterpiece . In its day, however, the book was seen as shocking.
An early examination of rape and domestic abuse, Tess of the D’Urbervilles is the story of Tess Derbeyfield, a simple country girl.
After a series of misfortunes, Tess is hired by the wealthy D’Urberville family but raped by their son Alec. The following summer she delivers a sickly infant who dies shortly after.
Tess later finds employment as a milkmaid. She falls in love with a farmer, Angel Clare, who is unaware of her past.
Since Angel confesses on their wedding night that he once had a brief affair, Tess tells him about the rape. This does not go over well. Angel views her as “impure”, and abandons her to try farming overseas. Continue reading