Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles: Fatalism & Sexuality

Lesson rationale

In this lesson, students will explore sources related to two key ideas in Thomas Hardy’s work: that of people being unable to control their fate, and the imbalance between a man’s place and a woman’s place in society. Through their study of these sources, students will develop their understanding of how Hardy drew on his observations at the time, when writing Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

Key questions in this lesson:

  • How does Hardy show people as being the pawns of fate?
  • How does Hardy portray women as not having the same rights as men?
  • Was Hardy’s attitude pessimistic or realistic?