Why are Mr. and Mrs. Durbeyfield so happy to learn of their aristocratic ancestry?
The Durbeyfields are a large lower class family that obvious struggles with money, so both husband and wife likely see potential opportunity for financial gain. Before the mid-20th Century, class played an even more deeply stratifying role in daily life than it does today, and many internalized the false belief that members of the Upper Class were better than those of the Lower Class. So Mr. Durbeyfield's joyous reaction is likely based in that belief as well. Contrast the reaction of the parents to Tess's more measured response. Hardy seems to be portraying the parents as somewhat foolish...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 874 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 6720 literature essays, 1811 sample college application essays, 276 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.