How to understand the name of TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES?

Reply Sun 24 May, 2015 08:50 am
Tess's full name is Tess Durbeyfield,but why does the book named TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES?
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Tes yeux noirs
Reply Sun 24 May, 2015 09:11 am
Tess's surname is Durbeyfield; she is not related to the much richer D'Urberville family. She goes to work at the D'Urberville family house and [SPOILER!] is made pregnant by Alec d’Urberville. (Thus she is, in an ironic sense, "of" the D'Urbervilles). You should hopefully learn this when you read the book.

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Reply Sun 24 May, 2015 10:44 am
As explained very early on, Tess Durbeyfield is descended from the aristocratic D'urberville family. Therefore she is of the D'urbervilles, unlike Alec D'urberville whose family (Stokes) adopted the name.

As to why, probably because Tess of the D'urbervilles is catchier and sells more books than Tess Durbeyfield.

On the meaning of names this is as good an answer as any.

Names are one of the most important tools for characterization in this novel. Let's start with the most obvious one: Tess's last name. Is it Durbeyfield or D'Urberville, and what are the possible implications of each? Well, Durbeyfield has the word "field" in it, which implies the countryside, and rural simplicity. "D'Urberville," on the other hand, has "ville" in it, which is French for "city." D'Urberville also separates the "D" at the beginning of the name, calling attention to the "Urb-" part of the word. This could imply urbanity (i.e., sophistication), as well as urban, or city life. Besides its rustic connotations, "Durbeyfield" also sounds very Anglo-Saxon, compared to the French-sounding "D'Urberville." Old aristocratic names in England are often French, because of the Norman Conquest in 1066 (check out the Historical Context note in our summary of Chapter One for more on this).

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