Deaf English province of the end of the last century. In the valley of Blackmore there is a family of the driver Jack Durbeyfilda. One evening, on the evening of May, the head of the family meets a priest who, when answering the greeting, calls him “Sir John,” Jack is surprised, and the priest explains: Darbayfield is a direct descendant of the knightly family of d’Erberville, leading his race from Sir Pagan d’Herberville, “that came from Normandy with William the Conqueror. ” Unfortunately, the family has long since died out, there are no castles and estates, but in the neighboring village of Kingsbir-sub-Greenhill there are many family crypts.
The dumbfounded Darbeyfield believes the priest. Not accustomed to hard work, he easily begins to imitate the manners of the nobility and spend most of his time in taverns. His wife, burdened with numerous young children, also wants to escape from home and miss a glass or two. The support of the family and younger children, in fact, is the eldest daughter of Tess. The drunken father is not able to carry the hives to the fair, and Tess and his younger brother start out before dawn. On the way they accidentally fall asleep, and on their wagon a mailing grenade flies. A sharp stalk penetrates the horse’s chest, and she falls dead.
After the loss of a horse, the family’s affairs deteriorate sharply. Suddenly, Mrs. Darbeyfield learns that the rich Mrs. d’Herberville lives nearby, and she immediately thinks that this lady is their relative, which means that Tess can be sent to her to tell about their relationship and ask for help.
Tess denies the role of a poor relative, however, conscious of herself guilty of the death of a horse, she obeys the wishes of the mother. In fact, Mrs. d’Herberville is not their relative at all. Just her deceased husband, being a very rich man, decided to add to his plebeian family name Stoke one more, more aristocratic.
In the estate, Tess meets a young man, a flamboyant man, Alec, the son of Mrs. d’Herberville. Having seen the beauty of Tess, unusual for a village girl, Alec decides to priudarit for her. Convincing her that his mother is sick and therefore can not accept her, he walks all day with her in his possessions.
At home the girl tells about all the parents, and they decide that their relative has fallen in love with Tess and wants to marry her. The girl tries to dissuade them, but without success. Moreover, in a few days a letter comes in which Mrs. d’Herberville announces her desire to entrust Tess to look after the poultry house. Tess does not want to leave his home, especially since Mr. Alec inspires her with fear. But, mindful of her fault before the family, she agrees to accept this offer.
On the first day, Alec flirts with her, and she hardly evades his kisses. Wanting to get a girl, he changes tactics: now every day he comes to her at the bird’s yard and chatters with her friendly, talks about the habits of his mother, and gradually Tess stops him getting wild.
On Saturday nights workers usually go to a nearby town to dance. Tess also starts to dance. Conversely, she always seeks a fellow traveler among her goods. One day, she happens to be in the company of tipsy girls, Alec’s former lovers, who viciously attack her, accusing him of cohabiting with the young d’Herberville. Suddenly, Alec suggests that Tess take her away from the furious women. Tess’s desire to escape is so great that she jumps up on the horse’s horse the young rake, and he takes her away. Deceit, he lures her into the forest and there is dishonoring.
A few months later, Tess secretly leaves the estate – she can no longer tolerate the love of the young d’Herberville. Alec is trying to get her back, but all the persuasions and promises are in vain. At home, parents are first indignant at her act, they blame her for not being able to get a relative to marry her, but soon calmed down. “We are not the first, we are not the last,” the mother of the girl notes philosophically.
At the end of the summer, along with other day laborers, Tess works in the field. During lunch, she, walking away, feeds her newborn baby. Soon the baby falls ill, and Tess wants to baptize him, but the father does not let the priest into the house. Then the girl, fearing that the innocent soul will go to hell, herself, in the presence of younger brothers and sisters, performs a rite of baptism. Soon the baby dies. Tess, touched by the simple story, the priest still does not allow her to bury the baby in the sacred land, and she has to settle for a place in the corner of the cemetery, where suicides, drunks and unbaptized babies lie.
For a short time a naive girl turns into a serious woman. Sometimes Tess seems that she can still find her happiness, but for this it is necessary to leave from the local places associated with such painful memories for her. And she goes to the Talboteys manor for milking.
Tess settled down on the farm, the owners and other girls-milkers are not bad about her. Also on the farm there is a certain Mr. Angel Claire, the youngest son of a priest, who decided to study in practice all branches of the farming industry, then to go to the colony or rent a farm in his homeland. He is a modest, educated young man who loves music and delicately feels nature. Noticing a new employee, Claire suddenly discovers that she is surprisingly handsome and the movements of her soul are surprisingly in tune with his own soul. Soon young people begin to meet constantly.
One day, Tess accidentally overhears the conversation of her merchandise – Marion, Ratti and... Izz. The girls confess to each other in their love for the young Mr. Clare, and complain that he does not even want to look at any of them, because he does not let go of the eye with Tess Darbeyfield. After that, Tess begins to suffer the question – does she have the right to the heart of Angel Clare? However, life itself decides for itself: Claire falls in love with her, and she – in it. Angel specifically goes home to tell his parents about his decision to marry a simple peasant woman to find in her face not only a faithful wife, but also a reliable assistant in his chosen life. The father of a young man, a stern Anglican priest, does not approve of either the plans or the choice of the youngest son, from which he, like his older brothers, wanted to make a priest. However, he is not going to oppose him, and Claire returns to the farm with the firm intention of marrying Tess. The girl does not accept his offer for a long time, but then agrees. However, she always tries to tell him about her past, but the lover does not want to listen to her. Mother Tess, informing in a letter about the family’s consent to her marriage, observes that none of the women ever tells the grooms about the troubles like the one that happened to her.
Tess and Claire are married, they go to the mill to spend the honeymoon there. Unable to withstand, Tess on the first day tells her husband about the misfortune that happened to her in the past. Claire is shocked: having no strength to condemn the girl, he nevertheless can not forgive her. As a result, he decides to part with it, relying on the fact that eventually somehow everything will be formed. He declares Tess that he will go to Brazil and, perhaps, will write it to himself – if he can forget everything. Leaving his wife a little money, he asks her, if necessary, to turn to his father.
Returning, Tess does not stay in his home. Things are going badly, and she is hired by a day laborer at a distant farm. Exhausting work encourages her to seek help from Father Clare. Unfortunately, she does not find him at home, and in anticipation hears the conversation of the brothers Angel, in which they condemn the act of the younger brother. The frustrated girl returns back, never having seen her husband’s father. On the way, she meets a Methodist preacher, in which she learns her abuser Alec d’Herberville. Alec also recognizes her, and the old passion flares up in him with renewed vigor.
D’Erberville begins to pursue the girl, trying to convince her that he repented and embarked on the path of virtue. He deceives him to swear at the place of the execution of the robber, that she does not want to tempt him. Tess carefully avoids meeting with d’Herberville, but he finds it everywhere. He leaves the preachers, while telling Tess that it is her beauty that is guilty of having committed this sinful step.
From the house comes the news: the mother is seriously ill, and Tess immediately goes home, where all her household, all her household problems, immediately falls on her fragile shoulders. Her mother recovers, but suddenly her father dies. With his death, the family loses its rights to the house, and Mrs. Darbeyfield is forced to seek shelter wherever she could settle with her younger children. Tess is desperate. Her husband still does not have any news, although she has already written him not one letter, begging to allow her to come to him in Brazil and let her at least just live beside him.
Having learned about the misfortunes that have afflicted the Tess family, Alec finds a girl and promises her to take care of her relatives, to give them the full house of his deceased mother, only if Tess returns to him. Unable to watch the tortures of younger brothers and sisters any longer, Tess accepts Alec’s offer.
In the meantime, Tess’s husband, who has suffered a serious illness in Brazil, decides to return home. The journey taught him a lot: he realizes that it is not Tess, but he is to blame for the fact that his life has not been set. With the firm intention to return to Tess and never again to part with her, Angel comes home. After reading his wife’s last desperate letter, he goes looking for her, which is very difficult. Finally, he finds the house where the girl’s mother lives. She reluctantly tells him that Tess lives in a nearby town, but she does not know her address. Claire goes to the specified town and soon finds Tess – she settled with Alec in one of the guesthouses. Seeing her husband, Tess is desperate – he reappeared too late. Shocked, Angel leaves. Soon, it catches up with Tess. She says that she killed Alek, because she could not tolerate his ridicule of her husband. Only now does Angel understand how much his wife loves him. For several days they wander through the woods, enjoying freedom and happiness, not thinking about the future. But soon they are overtaken, and the police lead Tess. Saying goodbye, the unfortunate asks her husband after her death to marry her younger sister Lisa Lou, the same beautiful but innocent girl.
And Angel and Lisa Lou, “a young girl, a half-family half-woman, a living resemblance to Tess, thinner than she, but with such wonderful eyes,” sadly walk hand-in-hand, and a black flag slowly raises above the ugly prison building. Justice has come to pass. “Two silent travelers bent to the ground, as if in prayer, and for a long time remained motionless.” As soon as the forces returned to them, they straightened up, again joined hands and went on. “