In 19th century England, a Dorset peasant, John Durbeyfield, discovers by chance that he is the last surviving descendant of an aristocratic family. Eager to profit from his newfound nobility, Durbeyfield sends his eldest daughter, Tess, to press his claim of kinship with the rich d’Urberville family. The young Alec d’Urberville, captivated by the beauty of this woman he calls “cousin”, agrees to employ her and sets about trying to seduce her. Tess ends up falling prey to Alec’s advances and returns pregnant to her parents’ home. She gives birth to a boy, who dies after a few weeks. To start anew, Tess leaves her village and finds a job on a farm where no one knows of her previous misfortune. There, she meets her true love.