Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Marlott. Village in the north of Wessex on a plain called the Vale of Blackmoor (or Blakemore), modeled on Marnhull, that is Tess Durbeyfield’s original home. Even before she is forced to leave this “fertile and sheltered tract of country, in which the fields are never brown and the springs never dry,” mishaps and catastrophes in its environs indeed seem destined to mar her lot in life.
Trantridge. Town east of Marlott, based on Pentridge, where the Durbyfieldses’ supposed D’Urberville relatives live in a redbrick lodge. At the edge of this newly rich estate, Hardy places the Chase, a forest dating back to the time of the Druids that he bases on Cranbourne Chase, once a royal hunting ground. There, primeval shadows and modern corruption collude in Alec D’Urberville’s rape of Tess.
Chaseborough. “Decayed market-town,” located two or three miles southeast of Trantridge, whose hard-drinking looseness drives Tess into Alec’s company.
Talbothays Dairy. Destination of Tess’s second journey from home, in the Great Dairies region, which Hardy alternately calls Var Vale and Froom Valley after its double-named river. Lying symbolically in almost the opposite direction from Trantridge, the fertile valley is the scene of Tess’s summer healing and rebirth after her rape. At times, Talbothays seems to be Eden after the Fall, at others a pagan pastoral idyll.
Emminster. Little town surrounded by hills in which the religious family of Tess’s husband, Angel Clare, lives. A dominant church tower signals the contrast to Talbothays’ natural, pagan lushness.
Wellbridge. Village in which Tess and Angel honeymoon in a farmhouse. There her ancestors’ looming portraits represent Tess’s entrapment by her past, and Angel leaves her after she finally reveals part of her past to him.
*Brazil. South American country to which Angel flees to gain new farming experience after he is disillusioned by Tess’s revelation. In addition to reflecting a trend among British agriculturists of the period, Angel’s stay in the New World serves to liberate him from England’s narrow conventions.
Flintcomb-Ash. Bleak “starve-acre place” about fifteen miles southwest of Marlott where Tess works at swede-hacking during a harsh winter. Hardy explicitly contrasts Flintcomb-Ash, his fictionalized Nettlecombe-Tout, with “Talbothays Dairy, that happy green tract of land where summer had been liberal in her gifts.” At Flintcomb-Ash, Tess simultaneously endures seasonal hardship, renewed sexual predation by Alec, and mechanical oppression by a demoniac, black threshing machine.
Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill. Former home of Tess’s highborn D’Urberville ancestors, now buried in its churchyard. The migration of Tess’s family from Marlott to Kingsbere (modeled on Bere Regis) exemplifies village depopulation caused by seasonal work but also symbolizes how Tess’s heritage has a death-grip on her fate.
Sandbourne. Fashionable resort modeled on Bournemouth where Angel finds Tess after returning from Brazil. Hardy uses this “city of detached mansions; a Mediterranean lounging-place on the English Channel” to emphasize his rural heroine’s sense of alienation in living as the wife of the newly rich Alec, whom she kills after she turns away Angel.
New Forest. Setting for Tess and Angel’s delayed consummation of their marriage, contrasting with the antiquity of the Chase.
*Stonehenge. Circle of stone monoliths placed in prehistoric times on a plain about eight miles northwest of Salisbury, which Hardy calls “ancient Melchester,” in the county of Wiltshire. In this pagan setting, which Angel associates with human sacrifices to the sun, Tess rests on a stone slab before her arrest for Alec’s murder. As the police close in around her, the setting makes her not merely the law’s victim but also a sacrifice to some unjust, even cruel, universal power beyond natural phenomena.