The setting of Thomas Hardy's once very controversial novel is Hardy's own beloved Dorset, England, which he fictionalizes as Wessex, "a fertile and sheltered tract of country in which the fields are never brown and the springs never dry." At times, this description of the landscape of Marlott by Hardy is truly poetic,
The atmosphere beneath is languorous, and is so tinged with azure that what artists call the middle distance partakes also of that hue, while the horizon beyond is of the deepest ultramarine.
This is an innocent, pure landscape, so much like Tess herself. For, it is as though Tess becomes a metaphor for the land, once pristine and lovely, but later a victim to the forces which overpower her.
That Tess is aligned with the setting is evinced throughout the narrative; for instance, the setting clearly mirrors the emotions of Tess after her loss of innocence in Part II, Chapter 13:
…a cloud of moral hobgoblins by which she was terrified without reason. It was they that were out of harmony with the actual world, not she…she looked upon herself as a figure of Guilt intruding into the haunts of innocence.
...the engine which was to act as the primum mobile of this world"