The True Rise of The Fallen Woman: A Critical Study of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of The D’Urbervilles

Date of Award

Fall 12-22-2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Shouhua Qi

Second Advisor

Heather Levy


The genre of work known as the literature of the fallen woman adheres to a strict set of guidelines for its infamous female roles. Fault, misery, and death are the ideal circumstances under which these women lead their lives. Thomas hardy, however, with the use of sleep states at critical junctures in Tess of the d’Urbervilles creates an anomaly within the genre with the character Tess Durbeyfield. By developing his character through these states, he not only exonerates her from blame, but also allows her to rise above her sin. Additionally, he leads his heroine through a life of internal ambivalence, thus adding to her isolation from both the world and her genre. This new vision of the fallen woman echoes his feelings on the hypocritically ambiguous society of his day and allows a new concept to take shape within this type of literature--forgiveness. This study explores Hardy’s use of these states and their extraordinary effect on the perception of the fallen woman.

This document is currently not available here.