This unit includes lesson materials to accompany students' independent reading of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles. The unit takes two central focuses: (1) characterization and (2) meaning of the work as a whole. The first several lessons use discussion, ekphrasis, small group work, and informal writing to deepen students' analysis of character. The remaining lesson materials build on this analysis of characterization to include whole-novel thematic analysis, culminating in a student essay on overall meaning. Materials include daily quizzes (with answer keys) for the assigned reading of Tess, close reading passages with guided reading, a minilesson on analyzing characterization, an in-class timed essay, a short essay assignment, and a longer process-piece essay assignment in addition to other in-class activities.