Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles: Tragedy, Sacrifice and the Fallen Woman

  • Sabrina Lynne Zacharias University of Winnipeg


This essay argues for an understanding of the main character, Tess Durbyfield, as a Classical tragic character, taking on the role of sacrifice to encourage the reader to think about the ways that the figure of the Fallen Woman is portrayed and treated within the confines of Hardy’s contemporary Victorian society. It makes connections between Ovid’s Poetics, and the Tragic framework outlined therein and draws on Classical examples such as Persephone in classical myth, and Euripides’ Iphigenia to demonstrate the ways the Tess’s situation throughout the narrative echo that of Classical tragedy. Further, this essay explores how Tess herself embodies the Classical role of sacrifice.