Tess of the d'Urbervilles, A Pure Woman, Faithfully Presented shows Hardy's typical concern for the plight of the mostly working class people he portrays. The Industrial Revolution is coming, railways are extending across Britain, and Victorian morality and hypocrisy will take their toll.
Tess, the eldest daughter of a poor carter in Marlott, goes to work for the rich d'Uberville family, where she becomes pregnant with the child of Alec, the d'Uberville's son. This action makes her a fallen woman, and leads to tragedy.
Tess of the d'Urbervilles got mixed reception when it was published because it portrayed Tess sympathetically and challenged the prevailing sexual mores. A copy was burnt by the Bishop of Wakefield.