Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English



First Advisor

Carnell, Rachel

Subject Headings



To understand fully Thomas Hardy’s cultural criticisms within his 1891 novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles, one must look simultaneously at the full range of these cultural criticisms. The novel is a scathing condemnation of capitalism, Victorian beliefs about women, church doctrine, the shortcomings of the educational and judicial systems, and the destructive forces that industrialization and mechanization bring to the natural world in rural agrarian England. Within the past twenty years, scholars have explicated this text in ever-more specific, detailed, and narrow areas of focus, often coming up with fascinating and meticulously researched individual topics. However, I believe that a much broader and more expansive literary explication of Tess is required in order to understand the vast array of cultural criticisms contained within the novel. To comprehend the multifaceted and complex alienated condition of modernity that Tess depicts and deplores, a more expansive reading of the novel is necessary.