contrast and comparison of Tess of the D'Urbervilles characters

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Comparing and contrasting the characters in Tess

Alec V Farmer Groby


  • Both men are antagonists of Tess throughout the text
  • Both characters have self-righteous, patriachal attitudes towards women


  • Alec is a (scam) member of the upper class while farmer Groby has to work the awful land in Flintcomb-Ash as a member of a lower class.
  • Alec is an important character to the narrative while FG is not as vital.

My opinions on the characters and their development:

Alec: He has gone through many personality alterations throughout the novel; at the beginning he is manipulative andmalicious and actually reverts back to that position by the end of the novel. However, midway through we discover that he has found God in an attempt to atone for his past, primarily for what he did to Tess. I consider Alec to be an integral part of the story as he is key in initiating Tess' moral decline (even as a spectral presene).

Farmer Groby: I never considered him to be a character to compare to Alec, as he is much less vital. The only opinion I have on FG is that his reappearances throughout the text could be seen as a catalyst for the end of the novel but not quite, he is not a significant enough character in my eyes. Yes, he actually told Angel about Tess' secret past but his insignificance meant that he was branded a drunkard. He also does not undergo any redeeming development as he continues to be a difficult employer for Tess and the other women.

Mrs Durbeyfield V Tess


  • Both embody the rural landscape in which they were raised
  • Both have a shared belief in superstition (though Tess probably inherited this from her mother)
  • They both put the welfare of the family as their first priority even though it may not seem so


  • Tess is educated and this has allowed her to be more pragmatic in her thinking. She has a much more realistic approach to living than her mother does who has to scheme to get what he wants.
  • We have seen that Tess is much more honest and hardworking than Mrs D who would prefer for Tess to claim kin than to actually work

My opinions on the characters and their development:

Tess: as a character, I find Tess a little too accepting of her fate though that would have been expected of a girl at that time, she does little to stop Alec from overpowering her and does not fight enough to be with Angel and keep him with her. However, I do respect Tess as a character as she is so hardworking and takes on any job she can, unlike her parents - she is a rural girl at heart even though she may seem like she belongs to high society. Her development as a character has seen her grow to be more pragmatic and responsible, her independence also increases until her vulnerability weakens her denials to


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