The fictionalized region of southwest England in which Hardy set all of his fiction. This region was somewhat backward in the late nineteenth century. Although industrialization had made the north of England and the region around London prosperous and modernized, southwest England was still rural, agricultural, and quite poor. Modern advancements in farming techniques were slow in coming to this region, and the transition to modernity was not easy. Hardy, who grew up and lived in the region, is particularly interested in showing the ways in which Wessex is caught between its old, traditional culture and modernization; little details showing this dilemma appear throughout Tess of the d’Urbervilles and his other works. In some ways Wessex is as much a character in Hardy’s work as any of the people he depicts-and indeed, Tess is very much identified, physically and emotionally, with her surroundings in Wessex….
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