Phase the First: The Maiden, Chapters 1–4: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does John Durbeyfield learn about his true family heritage?

2. What is the name of the valley where Tess and her family live?

3. What distinguishes Tess from her fellow country maidens?

4. What happens at the first meeting between Tess and Angel?

5. What do the two older brothers on a walking tour wish to do, instead of dancing with local girls?

6. Who takes care of the children in the Durbeyfield family?

7. What happens on the road to Casterbridge market?

8. What is the subject of Tess’s and Abraham’s conversation as they ride to market?

9. What does Joan Durbeyfield rely on when deciding Tess’s future plans?

10. Why does Tess consent to her mother’s plan that she ask Mrs. D’Urberville for a job?

1. On impulse, a local man gives this information to John Durbeyfield as they meet by chance on a country road.

2. The Durbeyfield’s home village is in the vale (or valley) of Blakemore or Blackmoor.

3. Tess’s beauty sets her apart from her friends. She is the only girl in the procession adorned with a red ribbon.

4. Angel, drawn by curiosity, dances with a local woman at Marlott’s May-Day procession. Tess sees Angel and is impressed by his distinguished manner and looks. Angel sees Tess and is momentarily regretful he did not dance with her.

5. The two older brothers wish to have time later on to discuss a book dealing with a contemporary religious controversy, the rise of atheism.

6. Tess is the oldest child by more than four years, and the hardest-working member of the family. Much of the child-care responsibility goes to her.

7. Abraham and Tess fall asleep early in the morning as their horse, Prince, drags a cart loaded up with beehives to market in Casterbridge. Walking on the wrong side of the road, Prince is gored by the mail cart, and dies.

8. Tess describes how humans live on a “blighted star,” thus accounting for the miserable position of the Durbeyfield family.

9. Joan relies on a book, the Compleat Fortune-Teller, to predict Tess’s future.

10. “Nobody blamed Tess as she blamed herself” for the death of Prince. Her guilt over this accident and her sense of responsibility for her family override her intuition that the project of “claiming kin” with the D’Urbervilles is unwise.

Phase the First: The Maiden, Chapters 5–11: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What tips the balance of Tess’s decision as to whether to approach Mrs. D’Urberville?

2. What is the name of the home of Mrs. D’Urberville?

3. Why has Simon Stoke decided to rename himself D’Urberville?

4. What job is Tess given by the D’Urbervilles?

5. How is Tess dressed when her parents send her off?

6. What is the mother-son relationship of Mrs. D’Urberville and Alec like?

7. What does Alec teach Tess how to do?

8. What defect marks the social life of the people in and around Trantridge?

9. Who picks a fight with Tess on the way home from Chase¬borough, and why?

10. What happens in The Chase?

1. Her guilt over the death of Prince, combined with her feeling that she is responsible for the family, cause Tess finally to agree to the idea of applying to Mrs. D’Urberville for help.

2. The manorial home of Mrs. D’Urberville is named The Slopes.

3. Simon Stoke has earned a fortune as a merchant, or perhaps as a moneylender, in the industrialized north of England. Stoke does not want to be associated with his unprestigious (or shady) past, and he believes that an aristocratic name would be more distinguished than his original one. He found the name D’Urberville in a history book dealing with old families in the south of England.

4. Tess is assigned the job of tending to a group of fowl kept by Mrs. D’Urberville. She must feed, care for, and entertain these birds.

5. Tess is dressed in a white muslin dress and her newly washed hair is tied with a large red ribbon.

6. Mrs. D’Urberville is not ignorant of her son’s faults, but nevertheless loves him. She is “bitterly fond” of Alec.

7. Alec teaches Tess how to whistle so that she can keep Mrs. D’Urberville’s birds happy.

8. The villagers around Trantridge live for the moment, disdaining the idea of saving for the future. Many of them are hard drinkers.

9. The Darch sisters, jealous that Alec is now smitten with Tess instead of them, pick a fight with her.

10. Unheedful of the route home, Alec drives his carriage until his horse is exhausted. He deposits Tess in a portion of The Chase and goes to look for directions. When he comes back, he ascertains Tess is asleep, and takes her.

Phase the Second: Maiden No More, Chapters 12–15: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Alec want to catch up with and talk to Tess?

2. What final piece of advice does Alec give Tess?

3. Who has started the sign-painter on his work?

4. Why is Tess so struck by the sign-painter’s messages?

5. Why is Joan disappointed with Tess?

6. What happens when Tess decides to attend church?

7. What does Tess do after the parson is not allowed in to see her dying infant?

8. What is Tess’s reaction to the parson saying her infant may not be allowed a standard Christian burial?

9. What name does Tess give to her infant?

10. Why does Tess wish to leave Marlott?

1. If he cannot convince her to return to Trantridge, he will at least ride her the rest of the way home to Marlott.

2. Alec advises Tess to display her beauty, her prime advantage, to the world.

3. An evangelical preacher named Mr. Clare started the sign-painter on his unusual work.

4. Tess has the uncanny, irrational feeling that this man knows what has just happened to her.

5. Having heard about Tess being a favorite of Alec, Joan assumes a marriage, which will materially help the Durbey¬fields, is in the near future. Joan is shocked and disappointed when she learns otherwise.

6. Her neighbors gossip and whisper in her direction, making Tess feel she is being singled out as one who is guilty.

7. Tess performs the baptism on her own, getting her siblings to pray and reading the prayers herself.

8. Tess vows never to go to the parson’s church again.

9. After recollecting a phrase from the book of Genesis in the Bible (Chapter 3, Verse 16: “in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children”), Tess gives her infant the name “Sorrow.”

10. Tess feels she cannot be happy in a place which knows the particulars of her lost maidenhood. It is best for her and her family if she moves elsewhere.

Phase the Third: The Rally, Chapters 16–19: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What distinguishes the Valley of the Great Dairies from Blackmoor Vale, where Tess was raised?

2. What is the relationship between Tess’s inner mood and her outward beauty?

3. What are Tess’s feelings after getting to work milking the cows?

4. Why does Angel Clare reject a career in the Church?

5. What effect does this rejection have on his family’s plans for his future?

6. Does Angel notice Tess at first?

7. What comes to Angel’s mind after he first pays attention to Tess’s presence?

8. How does Angel’s time at Talbothays change his attitude towards country folk and his overall mood?

9. What rule of the dairy does Angel break for Tess’s benefit?

10. What does Angel think about aristocratic families, according to Dairyman Crick?

1. The Valley of the Great Dairies is larger than, and perhaps not so beautiful as, the valley in which Tess has so far lived her life.

2. There is an inverse relationship: when her mood is less happy, her beauty is greater; when she is happy, her looks are more or less ordinary.

3. Getting to work gives Tess a sense of security and confidence. She “appeared to feel that she really had laid a new foundation for her future.”

4. Affected by the contemporary spirit of rationalism, Angel is unable to believe in the literal...

(The entire section is 428 words.)

Phase the Third: The Rally, Chapters 20–24: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who are usually the first two people to wake each day at Talbothays?

2. What names does Angel call Tess?

3. What is responsible for the Talbothays butter having a bitter “twang”?

4. What is Tess’s opinion of herself as a woman as compared to the other milkmaids?

5. Who carries Tess, Marian, Izz, and Retty across a flooded lane?

6. What quality exhibited by Angel earns him Tess’s respect?

7. How do the milkmaids react when they surmise Angel’s affections are only for Tess, and why have the milkmaids thought it unlikely Angel would consider them as future wives?

8. Whom is Angel supposed to marry?

9. What technique does Tess use in milking cows?

10. What part of Tess’s body is deemed by Angel to be the most enticing?

1. Angel and Tess, “possibly not always by chance,” are the first two people to arise each day at the dairy-house.

2. Angel calls her Artemis and Demeter, the names of women from Greek mythology. Artemis was the virgin goddess of the hunt; Demeter was the goddess of fertility.

3. A few garlic shoots in a nearby meadow are responsible for imparting a bitter flavor to the butter recently produced at Talbothays. The last time this happened, Dairyman Crick thought the meadow was “bewitched”; now he has arrived at a more plausible hypothesis.


(The entire section is 424 words.)

Phase the Fourth: The Consequence, Chapters 25–29: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How long will Angel remain at Talbothays?

2. What gifts from Mrs. Crick does Angel carry home to his ¬family at Emminster?

3. What changes does his family note in Angel?

4. What qualities are the Clares looking for in a future daughter-in-law?

5. Who is Mercy Chant?

6. How much forethought lies behind the timing of Angel’s first proposal to Tess?

7. What rationale does Tess use to explain this initial refusal?

8. What story about his father does Angel tell Tess?

9. How does Tess react to the story about the woeful rogue Jack Dollop?

10. On what errand does Tess accompany Clare?

1. Angel is planning to stay at Talbothays for about four more months before visiting another farm.

2. Angel carries home two gifts from Mrs. Crick to his family: black-pudding and mead (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey).

3. Angel seems more countrified, carrying himself more like a farmer and less like the scholar his family had hoped him to be.

4. The Clares want a God-fearing, Christian woman for their son. Mrs. Clare, additionally, is concerned that her son marry a “lady.”

5. Mercy Chant is the woman Clare’s parents hope and expect he will marry. She is a church-going, devout girl, the daughter of family friends.

6. Angel had not meant to propose so quickly. His proposal is rather impulsive.

7. Tess seizes on the idea (which is, unknown to her, more than partially true) that she is not upper-class or learned enough to fit in with Angel’s social circle and his family.

8. To bring the conversation to a more general and less stressful level, Angel tells of a young, dissolute squire named D’Urberville whom his father tried to convert to a more holy life.

9. Tess is horrified that everyone laughs at the story of Jack Dollop, whose future wife did not tell him all about her past history before they got married. Tess feels that the story, which echoes her own dilemma, is quite serious.

10. On a chilly September night, Angel and Tess ride some milk to the railway station, where it will be shipped to London.

Phase the Fourth: The Consequence, Chapters 30–34: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Angel’s true attitude toward the decline of renowned families?

2. What is the only modern encroachment upon the pastoral area around Talbothays?

3. Why is Angel cheered by Tess’s revelation that she is a D’Urberville?

4. What premarital advice does Joan give Tess?

5. Does Angel allow news of the marriage to be publicized?

6. Why is Angel forced to punch the man from Trantridge?

7. Do any of Angel’s or Tess’s close relatives attend the wedding?

8. What is Tess’s mood after the ceremony?

9. How do Marian, Izz, and Retty behave after the ceremony?

10. Where do Angel and Tess go...

(The entire section is 321 words.)

Phase the Fifth: The Woman Pays, Chapters 35–44: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What prevents Angel from going into Tess’s bedroom when he hears her breathing?

2. Why does Tess reject thoughts of suicide?

3. Where does Angel carry Tess in his sleep?

4. To what country does Angel decide to go?

5. What comment does her father make upon hearing that Tess has returned home?

6. Whom does Angel ask to accompany him overseas?

7. What are Tess’s duties on the farm at Flintcomb-Ash?

8. What characters from Phase the First does Tess meet up with again at Flintcomb-Ash?

9. Who takes Tess’s boots?

10. Whom does Tess observe preaching at a local barn?


(The entire section is 268 words.)

Phase the Sixth: The Convert, Chapters 45–52: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Does Tess believe Alec’s conversion?

2. With what does Tess strike Alec?

3. What happens when the rick (or pile) of wheat is nearly ¬levelled?

4. What advice does Angel receive from the cosmopolitan Englishman he meets in Brazil?

5. What are the implications of John’s death?

6. To what figure does Alec compare himself when he surprises Tess in a field?

7. What is the story of the D’Urberville Coach?

8. What generally happens each Old Lady-Day?

9. Where do Tess and her family decide to make a new home?

10. What advice do Izz and Marian give Angel?

1. Tess...

(The entire section is 316 words.)

Phase the Seventh: Fulfillment, Chapters 53–59: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How is Angel Clare’s health after his journey to Brazil?

2. What causes Angel Clare finally to reveal Tess’s noble blood?

3. What does Angel discover when he reaches Tess’s Marlott cottage?

4. Where does Joan tell Angel to seek Tess?

5. What does Tess say when Angel asks forgiveness for leaving her?

6. How is the death of D’Urberville discovered?

7. What does the bloodstain seem to resemble?

8. What is the location of the lovers’ temporary refuge from the law?

9. At what monument is Tess taken prisoner?

10. What two characters see a sign of Tess’s execution?


(The entire section is 259 words.)