Tess of the d'Urbervilles : characters

Shape Shape

Tess of the d'Urbervilles is a notable literary work by Thomas Hardy. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Tess of the d'Urbervilles.


Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a famous novel by Thomas Hardy. In this section, we will know some crucial characters of the novel. These characters will help you to understand the story of the novel.

Tess Durbeyfield

The protagonist of the novel. She is a beautiful, innocent young woman. She suffers from the result of others’ actions around her. She is a strong-willed woman but cannot escape her tragic fate. She is a pure and virtuous country girl whose life is tragic when her family discovers they are descendants of the noble D’Urbervilles. Naive and trusting, she becomes the victim of Alec d’Urberville’s manipulative schemes. The societal expectations of Victorian England mar her beauty and innocence. It led to her downfall. Despite her trials, she remains resilient and tries to navigate her way through a world that constantly conspires against her.

Alec d’Urberville

The novel’s antagonist is a wealthy and manipulative man. He is a symbol of the corruption and decay of aristocratic society. He is the embodiment of decadence and moral decay. He seduces Tess under the pretense of helping her family, but his actions lead to her ruin. Throughout the story, Alec represents the exploitation of power and freedom by preying on Tess’s vulnerability and innocence.

Angel Clare

Angel is a well-educated and idealistic man. He falls in love with Tess and marries her. Angel is a romantic and morally upright man who genuinely loves Tess. However, his rigid ideals close his eyes to Tess’s humanity. After their marriage, he cannot forgive Tess’s past and abandons her. It illustrates the hypocrisy of societal standards. Angel’s internal struggle reflects the conflict between societal expectations and genuine, unconditional love.

Joan Durbeyfield

Tess’s mother is a caring woman who does her best to support her daughter in the face of their family’s poverty. She represents the maternal intuition to protect and nurture, often contrasting with the harsh realities of their circumstances.

John Durbeyfield

Tess’s father is irresponsible and indifferent to his family’s interests. His lack of ambition and care aggravate the challenges the Durbeyfield family faces. His character highlights the contrast between the idyllic past of the D’Urbervilles and the grim present of the Durbeyfields.

Mrs. d’Urberville

Alec’s mother is a manipulative and calculating woman. She supports her son’s immoral actions. Her character showcases the collaboration of the upper class in perpetuating societal injustices, particularly concerning gender and class dynamics.

Reverend Clare

Angel’s father, Reverend Clare, represents the compassionate side of society. He tries to help Tess, but his efforts are futile. It emphasizes the inability of even well-intentioned individuals to challenge deeply impressed societal norms.

Izz Huett

Izz is a kind-hearted woman who falls in love with Angel. She represents an alternative fate for Tess. It highlights the importance of choices and circumstances in shaping individuals’ lives.


Marian, Tess’s friend, portrays the strength and resilience of rural women. Despite their challenges, Marian and Tess find solace in their friendship. It emphasizes the importance of female solidarity in the face of adversity.

Flintcomb-Ash Workers

The rough and brutal laborers at Flintcomb-Ash symbolize the harsh realities of the working class. Their presence in the story underscores the challenges individuals like Tess’s face, trapped in poverty and exploitation.