Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles Chapter 37 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Late that night Angel sleepwalks into Tess's room and begins to grieve that she is dead. Tess knows that in times of great stress he does things like this, but she does not wake him up. She trusts him so much that even when he is acting unconsciously she feels safe.
As when he sleep-fought the man who insulted Tess, Angel's nobler nature comes out in his subconscious. When he is awake he represses himself with his strict ideals.
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The sleeping Angel picks up Tess in her sheet and murmurs endearing words that bring her joy. She is not afraid, as she would not care if she died in his arms this way. He kisses her lips and then carries her outside, towards the river.
Again Tess becomes a sort of sacrificial figure, one willing do die for love or to spare her loved on pain. Angel shows that he has not quelled all his passions yet.
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Tess is pleased that Angel's subconscious self still regards her as his wife, and then she thinks he is reenacting the day he carried the girls through the flood to church. He stands at the edge of the deep, fast river. The bridge across is only one narrow plank, but Angel starts to cross anyway, and still Tess would prefer to drown together than be separated tomorrow. She almost makes a movement to upset his balance, but she values Angel's life too much to sacrifice it alongside her own.
They both strongly desire to return to the fantasy world of their courtship, and that desire leads to this strange nighttime ritual. Tess's mental state is emotionally dramatic, but she has enough experience of harsh fate to care very little for her own life, as God or destiny seems not to care either.
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They reach the Abbey where a stone coffin stands open against the wall. Angel lays Tess inside and kisses her, and then he stretches out on the grass and keeps sleeping. The night is cold enough to be dangerous for them to stay out in the open, but she is ashamed to wake Angel up and reveal what happened. She tries to persuade him to walk on, and he obeys. Tess leads him across the stone bridge, into the house, and back onto the sofa.
Angel's repressive society and mindset makes his true feelings show themselves in this strange way. Tess knows he would be angry to find that he had betrayed his own ideals while asleep, so she keeps painfully silent.
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The next morning it is clear that Angel remembers nothing of the incident. His resolve to leave Tess remains after his sleep, so he does not hesitate. Tess wants to tell Angel what happened but knows it would anger him that he showed a passion his reasoning did not approve of. A carriage picks them up and they go to bid farewell to the Cricks.
Angel is much more in touch with his own whims and morals than he is with those of other people. He lacks the empathy to see the situation from Tess's point of view, or even that her only sin is one arbitrarily attributed to her by society, and which in fact was committed against her.
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They walk through all the places of their courtship and the green fertility has turned to gray coldness. The other workers tease the couple, who pretends that nothing is wrong. Retty and Marian have left the farm. Tess bids farewell to her favorite cows and they go. Mrs. Crick remarks that Tess and Angel seemed dreamlike and strange.
The fertile imagery has disappeared with Tess's depression. The natural world is no comfort to her now, or else has become weak along with her own weakness.
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They drive farther and come to the spot where Tess must turn towards Marlott. Angel assures her he is not angry, but they cannot be together right now. He says he will write to her, but to not come to him unless he tells her. Tess feels these conditions are harsh but she accepts them, and does not make a scene that might have persuaded him. Her pride plays a small factor in this, perhaps as an old d'Urberville fault.
Tess accepts her unjust fate yet again, having internalized society's view of her own guilt and wrongdoing. Despite this self-loathing she retains enough d'Urberville pride to not beg, but not so much to stand up for herself against Angel's unfair condemnation.
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Angel gives Tess some money and takes her jewels to keep safe in the bank, and then they part. Angel hopes she will look back, but Tess is so distraught that she cannot. He remarks on the inherent wrongness of the world, and as he turns away he “hardly knew that he loved her still.”
Angel too now sees the cruel injustice of fate, and reaffirms his belief that there is no compassionate God taking care of everyone. The necessary exchange of money makes their goodbye all the more tragic, as it contains no love and is just a transaction.
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