Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
They arrive at the farm with the ancient d'Urberville mansion and see that they have the place to themselves. The moldy house upsets Tess, and she is still worried about the crowing rooster. On the walls are portraits of old, cruel-looking d'Urberville women, and Angel can't help noticing how Tess resembles them.
Even their first day as husband and wife is shadowed by the specter of the past. The old house also provides a gloomy setting for what should be a happy occasion. The portraits hint that Tess cannot escape her cruel blood and the fate that comes with it.
Themes
Injustice and Fate Theme Icon
The sun is low, and they share their first tea together as husband and wife. Angel wonders if he can appreciate yet the power Tess has now placed in his hands, that her future depends on his. He vows to himself to never neglect her.
Only now does Angel start to realize the depth of Tess's selfless devotion and his own power as husband. He basically holds her life in his hands now.
Themes
Women Theme Icon
They wait for their luggage but it gets dark and then starts to rain. Angel sees Tess is upset and regrets bringing her to this old house. He decides she is stressing about their luggage. There is a knock, but it is not their luggage, and instead a package for Tess from the Clares.
Once again Angel's spontaneous decision (to stay in this mansion) leads to Tess's lasting sorrow. He really doesn't know her inner life well at all if he thinks she is so upset over luggage.
Themes
Women Theme Icon
Tess makes Angel break the grave-looking seal, and inside is a note for Angel from Mrs. Clare. It explains that these are the jewels his godmother left him for his future wife. They spread them out and Tess cannot believe they are hers now. Tess puts them on and she appears like an exquisite lady in a ballroom, although Angel decides he prefers her simple farm-clothes.
The Clares at least approve enough to send this gift, and Tess realizes again the disparity of their wealth. Angel finds her beautiful, but prefers his idealized version of Tess the innocent dairymaid. He is still trying to keep the fantasy alive.
Themes
Nature and Modernity Theme Icon
Social Criticism Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
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Tess leaves the jewels on, hoping they will help her cause later, and they start to eat supper. Finally the door opens and Jonathon (a worker from Talbothays) brings in their luggage. He looks downcast, and reminds them of the cock's crow, and says that he is late because Retty Priddle had tried to drown herself in the river, and Marian was found passed out drunk. Izz alone remained in the house, although depressed. Jonathon leaves the luggage and goes out.
The dairymaids' earlier infatuation turns tragic and intense. It turns out Angel's last kiss was indeed destructive to their inexperienced hearts. This news is surely worse than any of the other bad omens, and it casts even more gloom over the couple's first night.
Themes
Injustice and Fate Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Angel expects Tess to be happy about their luggage, but she is upset by the girls. She feels less worthy than they are, and yet they had to suffer unrequited love and she did not. Tess decides to tell the truth at last and make amends. She stares into the fire for a long time.
Angel again attributes his idea of shallow female concerns to Tess. Tess's guilt returns stronger than ever, and she decides to sacrifice her own happiness just so she cannot enjoy what she feels her friends deserve.
Themes
Paganism and Christianity Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Angel interrupts her reverie and reminds Tess that he had something to confess. Tess is surprised and relieved. Angel says he did not mention it before because he was afraid of losing her affection. He is not a religious man anymore, but still believes in good morals. He confesses that in London he spent two days with an older woman, before realizing his sin and fleeing. He asks Tess to forgive him, and she squeezes his hand to affirm that she does.
Hardy reveals that Angel has been in almost the same situation as Tess this whole time. He also had a sexual past to confess but waited until they were married in case Tess rejected him. His sin is actually greater than Tess's, as his was voluntary and hers was forced upon her. This surprise confession makes the ultimate result much more tragic.
Themes
Social Criticism Theme Icon
Tess is relieved and now ready to tell her story, although Angel still can't believe it could be anything bad. Tess feels her sin is the same as his, so Angel will surely forgive her as she forgave him. They hold hands and press their heads together, her diamonds gleaming ominously, and Tess tells the whole story of Alec d'Urberville.
Tess feels (rightly) that their “sins” are almost the same so she should have nothing to fear. In her joy she forgets the cruel conventions of society and Angel's own upbringing and strict ideals. The gloomy diamonds forebode that her hopes will be dashed.
Themes
Injustice and Fate Theme Icon
Social Criticism Theme Icon