Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles Chapter 58 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
That night Tess tells Angel the story of his sleepwalking episode, but she begs him not to talk about the past – she is only going to enjoy the present. The next day they explore the house and Angel only leaves to get food. Five days pass and they are isolated but for the forest birds. They never speak of the past, and Tess doesn't want to leave. She accepts her fate but wants to keep the cruel world outside while she can. She also fears that Angel will despise her later, and she wants to die before that happens.
Tess has accepted her fate, and accepted that the fantasy is a fantasy, but she still wants to enjoy it while she can. This is almost Hardy's metaphor for life – no one can escape their doom, so they should live and love as best they can before death. Birds again keep Tess company. Fate has taught her that no happiness can last, so she does not hope for much.
Themes
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The next morning the caretaker comes early to open the windows, and she sees the sleeping couple in the house. They look so peaceful and idyllic that she does not disturb them, but leaves to tell the neighbors.
Tess and Angel have become the innocent lovers of Talbothays again. The mansion is like their wedding night as it should have been.
Themes
Injustice and Fate Theme Icon
Nature and Modernity Theme Icon
Tess and Angel awake uneasily and decide to leave. Tess says goodbye to the happy place, and admits that she will not live much longer, but Angel won't accept it and wants to keep moving. Later she rests hidden among some trees while he buys food.
Tess can see her fate and accepts it like a martyr or Christ-figure. Again the woods provide a nest for the Nature-girl.
Themes
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They decide to cross the open country at night. The moon is covered by clouds and they are alone. Suddenly a huge stone monolith rises up out of the darkness and they can hear the wind humming through other pillars. Angel realizes that they are at Stonehenge, the ancient heathen temple.
The monolith recalls Cross-in-Hand, and The Chase, and the ancient pagan powers of the land. They are outside of time now, and the modern world is far away. Stonehenge was thought at Hardy's time to be a place of ancient pagan sacrifice.
Themes
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Tess lies down on a slab of rock and does not want to go further. Angel urges her on, but Tess decides she is at home among the heathen stones and wants to stay. Angel says she is lying on an altar.
Tess fully accepts her fate as a sacrificial victim, lying down on the altar like a d'Urberville on his tomb or Christ on his cross.
Themes
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Tess feels solemn and peaceful, and suddenly she asks Angel if he will marry her sister Liza-Lu once she is gone. She says Liza-Lu is like the best part of her without the bad, and if they married it would be like she and Angel were not separated at all.
Liza-Lu seems to symbolize Tess as she should have been, or would have been if she had never heard the name of d'Urberville. If Liza-Lu marries Angel they can have the happiness Tess deserved.
Themes
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Tess asks if they sacrificed to God at Stonehenge, but Angel says it was to the sun instead. Tess asks if he thinks they will meet again when they are dead. Angel kisses her and Tess starts to cry, begging him to say they will meet again, but he is silent. After a long while she falls asleep, and dawn starts to break on the horizon.
Hardy returns again to the pagan sun-gods and powers of Nature. Tess tragically needs this last comfort but Angel still cannot betray his intellectual ideals. Tess falls asleep as before Prince's death, and before her rape, passively accepting her fate.
Themes
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A man walks up the hill and approaches them in the dim light. Angel stays quiet, but then realizes there are more men all around them. He suddenly realizes that Tess has truly committed murder, and he readies himself to fight. There are too many men though, and he begs them to at least let Tess finish resting. They oblige, and Angel holds her hand as she sleeps.
The fantasy is suddenly broken and the truth strikes Angel. The policemen give Tess this one last kindness at least, and she is allowed to dream a little longer before her doom.
Themes
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The sun rises and its light awakens Tess. She knows immediately what has happened, and she feels almost glad, as their happiness could not have lasted. The men come for her and she says she is ready.
Tess wakes up among Nature and accepts her fate as the sacrifice for sins not her own. She has tragically learned that no happiness lasts, and so is glad to end this way.
Themes
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Nature and Modernity Theme Icon
Paganism and Christianity Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon