Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles Chapter 55 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
That night Angel walks through Sandbourne, a fashionable pleasure city on the English Channel, and wonders what possibly could have drawn Tess here. There are no cows or farms, but only mansions. He goes restlessly to sleep.
It is tragic to watch Angel slowly discover the truth. Tess is completely out of her element here – she has sacrificed everything in her despair and need.
Themes
Injustice and Fate Theme Icon
Social Criticism Theme Icon
The next morning Angel asks a postman for information. He has never heard of a Mrs. Clare or a Ms. Durbeyfield, but he knows there is a d'Urberville staying at a place called The Herons. Angel is excited and goes there to find it is a luxurious lodging-house. He fears Tess is working there.
The shifting names of the novel come together here, as all the different “Tesses” are named, each with her own history and misfortunes. She has become a Tess unknown to Angel now.
Themes
Social Criticism Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
The landlady says there is a Mrs. d'Urberville there, which slightly confuses Angel, but he asks her to tell Tess that he has come. He waits among flowers, wondering if Tess sold her jewels to afford the place.
He cannot conceive of her infidelity, so pure was her love. The inevitable finally approaches among bright Nature.
Themes
Injustice and Fate Theme Icon
Nature and Modernity Theme Icon
Tess appears dressed in expensive, elegant clothes. She stands still on the threshold, and Angel begs her forgiveness. Tess's eyes appear strange, and she says it is too late, to not come near her. She says that she waited and suffered for so long, and then Alec appeared, and helped her family, and convinced her that Angel would never return, and at last he won her back.
Hardy reveals Tess through Angel's eyes to show how much she has given up of herself, totally sacrificing her integrity for her family's needs. This fully emphasizes her tragic state and how truly trapped she is now. Angel finally matured in his love, but too late.
Themes
Injustice and Fate Theme Icon
Social Criticism Theme Icon
Paganism and Christianity Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
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Angel understands the terrible truth. Tess says Alec is upstairs, and that she hates him now, but Angel must leave and never return. She disappears and Angel walks blindly through the streets.
Alec holds her in complete dominion now – even though she hates him she is still dressed in his clothes.
Themes
Injustice and Fate Theme Icon
Social Criticism Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon