This map plots the settings and references in Tess Of The D'Urbervilles
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Thomas Hardy's Wessex covers most of the southwest of England. It started out as a fictional rendering of the area of Dorset in which Hardy grew up, but expanded during his writing career to encompass the counties of Devon, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Somerset, parts of Berkshire and Oxfordshire. The furthest north-easterly point is Oxford, which Hardy renamed "Christminster" in his last novel, Jude the Obscure.
Like Christminster, most of the places mentioned in Tess of the D'Urbervilles correspond to real locations. For example, Sanbourne, where Tess and Alec put up at a guesthouse in the closing chapters of the book, is the seaside town of Bournemouth. This renaming gave Hardy the freedom to borrow elements from real-life towns and places without being obliged to portray them exactly as they were. You can find a comprehensive list of Hardy's place names and their real-life equivalents here.
Hardy's Wessex is a deeply nostalgic place. Although Tess of the D'Urbervilles was published in 1891, it is set some years earlier, before mechanisation and the coming of the railways had fundamentally altered the countryside. The old traditions are being eroded on every side, from the dialects spoken by the villagers to the methods used to gather the harvest. Hardy records these dying customs in such loving detail that for many people (and many tourist gift shops in southwest England) his name is synonymous with rural life in pre-modern Britain. In fact, Hardy's views on modernisation are probably more complex than most people give him credit for; while he clearly regrets the loss of the old ways, he also makes the naivety and ignorance of many of his rural characters a pivotal factor in their downfalls.
Now a bustling metropolis with a population of over 3.2 million, Curitiba would have been a pretty isolated place in Angel Clare's day. European settlers had been coming to the region in larger numbers since the 1850s, when the area's main economy was based on cattle trading.
'Amok' is a Malay word meaning to run out of control. In English, particularly in Hardy's day, it described people seizing weapons and attacking others indiscriminately while in the grip of a strong emotion. No one is quite sure why the word should have come into existence in Malaysia, but W. W. Skeat's entry in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica gives a hint:
A Malay will suddenly and apparently without reason rush into the street armed with a kris or other weapons, and slash and cut at everybody he meets till he is killed. These frenzies were formerly regarded as due to sudden insanity. It is now, however, certain that the typical amok is the result of circumstances, such as domestic jealousy or gambling losses, which render a Malay desperate and weary of his life. It is, in fact, the Malay equivalent of suicide. The act of running amuck is probably due to causes over which the culprit has some amount of control, as the custom has now died out in the British possessions in the peninsula, the offenders probably objecting to being caught and tried in cold blood.
A Bronze Age earthwork and stone circle created over a period of 2,000 years, Stonehenge is thought to have had mystical or religious significance for the ancient Britons. It is still held to be a sacred site by modern-day druids.
The henge (ring bank and ditch) clearly has great imaginative potency for Hardy, as for once he drops his convention of fictionalizing west-country locations and sets a scene in a real-life place. This has a powerful effect, making the reader feel that Angel and Tess's blissful, dream-like escape from reality must be coming to an end as reality catches up with them.