Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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Tess Durbeyfield Character Analysis

The protagonist of the novel, an attractive young woman from the rural village of Marlott. Her family is poor, but she has been educated and seems to stand out from other girls. She has a discerning intelligence and independent spirit, and is very loyal to her family and Angel. Her misfortunes are hardly ever of her own doing, but her innocence, naivety, and unrealistic ideals sometimes increase her suffering. She is also a very tempting figure for the men of the novel, often to her detriment. Throughout the book she is portrayed as a symbol of rural innocence, closeness to Nature, and ancient paganism, but ultimately the author's sympathy is for Tess as an individual woman, not just as a representative ideal.

Tess Durbeyfield Quotes in Tess of the d'Urbervilles

The Tess of the d'Urbervilles quotes below are all either spoken by Tess Durbeyfield or refer to Tess Durbeyfield. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Injustice and Fate Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of Tess of the d'Urbervilles published in 2003.
Chapter 4 Quotes

Well, Tess ought to go to this other member of our family. She'd be sure to win the lady – Tess would; and likely enough ‘twould lead to some noble gentleman marrying her. In short, I know it.

Related Characters: Joan Durbeyfield (speaker), Tess Durbeyfield, Mrs. d'Urberville
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Joan Durbeyfield, Tess's mother, suggests that the family send Tess to the d'Urbervilles in search of work, Joan is sure that Tess, with her charm and vitality, will be able to convince the d'Urberville family that she's one of them, and might even be able to succeed in marrying one of them, ensuring the survival and prosperity of her own family for years to come.

Joan's plan is implausible for a number of reasons--and yet it tells us a lot about her personality, and about English society. There's no indication that a marriage to one of the supposed d'Urbervilles would be profitable in any literal sense, since the real d'Urbervilles have no money, and indeed have all died off (as we later learn). The practical Joan also seems more concerned with the ascendance of her own family than with her daughter's personal happiness, though she has the best of intentions; in a way, she's to blame for Tess's misfortune in the coming years. Another layer of irony is that the supposedly old and prestigious d'Urbervilles that Tess will eventually meet aren't really d'Urbervilles at all--they've just adopted the surname to seem more impressive. And thus Tess slips into her tragic fate because of a case of mistaken identity.

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The morning mail-cart, with its two noiseless wheels, speeding along these lanes like an arrow, as it always did, had driven into her slow and unlighted equipage. The pointed shaft of the cart had entered the breast of the unhappy Prince like a sword, and from the wound his life's blood was spouting in a stream, and falling with a hiss into the road. In her despair Tess sprang forward and put her hand upon the hole, with the only result that she became splashed from face to skirt with the crimson drops.

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield
Related Symbols: Prince the Horse
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Tess's family horse, Prince, is killed by the shaft of a mail-cart--a highly symbolic tableau. Prince is a symbol of the "old England"--the England of forests, May-Day, nature, etc. The mail-cart, on the other hand, represents industrialization in all its aspects: its insensitivity to people and animals, its cruel efficiency, etc. Thus, for the cart to kill Tess's horse symbolizes the rise of industrialization during the period when the novel is set. Furthermore, the highly sexualized language of the passage might be said to represent the terrors of sex and masculinity. Tess is a young, virginal girl, unaccustomed to interactions with men. Here, the mail-cart seems like a hyper-masculinized figure, piercing the horse with its phallic shaft. Tess sees the horse's death as a nightmarish spectacle, perhaps foreshadowing her later experience with sexuality as violence.

Chapter 5 Quotes

He watched her pretty and unconscious munching through the skeins of smoke that pervaded the tent, and Tess Durbeyfield did not divine, as she innocently looked down at the roses in her bosom, that there behind the blue narcotic haze was potentially the “tragic mischief” of her drama – one who stood to be the blood-red ray in the spectrum of her young life.

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield, Alec d'Urberville
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Tess is introduced to Alec d'Urberville, one of the main characters of the novel--and, perhaps more than anyone else, the architect of Tess's undoing. Tess sits in a tent with Alec, who's contemplating kissing her. Alec and Tess are equally ignorant of the events their meeting will set in motion: because of their encounter in the tent, Tess's life will be ruined forever.

The tableau described in the passage is notable for contrasting the virginal, natural innocence of Tess's appearance ("roses in her bosom") with Alec's more mature and "modern" tendencies, perhaps symbolized by the "narcotic" smoke in his tent. Alec is like poison for Tess, corrupting her innocence. The passage is also a great example of the narrator's sad, fated tone: he knows exactly what's going to happen to Tess, yet he's powerless to stop it.

Chapter 8 Quotes

He was inexorable, and she sat still, and d'Urberville gave her the kiss of mastery.

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield, Alec d'Urberville
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Alec "seduces" Tess. Alec is a confident, spoiled young man, used to getting what he wants. He thinks of Tess as a weak, poor, unsure girl--an easy conquest, particularly because both her gender and her class prevent her from achieving any kind of agency against the wealthy male Alec. Hardy conveys Alec's social power and intimidating persona with phrases like "inexorable" and "kiss of mastery."

The kiss of mastery that Alec delivers to Tess might as well be a death-blow, since it prefigures the act of rape to come. Alec will impregnate Tess, setting in motion the events of the novel and eventually leading to Tess's arrest and death. There's a sense of fated-ness to the entire scene: one moment of kissing between Tess and Alec will lead to a lifetime of tragedy.

Chapter 11 Quotes

“It was to be.” There lay the pity of it. An immeasurable social chasm was to divide our heroine's personality thereafter from that previous self of hers who stepped from her mother's door to try her fortune at Trantridge poultry-farm.

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

In this climactic chapter, Alec rapes Tess. The narrator sadly tries to understand how such a horrible tragedy could have happened--where was it written that a young, innocent girl like Tess would have her life ruined by a man like Alec? The narrator tries to find an explanation, but eventually settles on a fatalistic non-explanation, epitomized by the country people's phrase, "It was to be."

The novel traffics in fate, never more overtly than in this scene: there's a strong sense that everything that happens to Tess has been planned, as if by some indifferent god. Like a Greek tragedy, the universe seems to be punishing Tess for trying to rise above her station by marrying a d'Urberville. And yet even here, Tess is punished unjustly, since it was her family who forced her to go to the d'Urbervilles. There seems to be no justice in the universe, just an indifferent, meaningless fate--and perhaps that's Hardy's point.

Chapter 14 Quotes

She did not look like Sissy to them now, but as a being large, towering, and awful – a divine personage with whom they had nothing in common.

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

Months have now passed since Alec raped Tess. Tess has given birth to a child, and now the child is dying. She decides to baptize him, hoping to save him from Hell if he should die. In this scene Tess baptizes the child herself, having been refused by her father (who was supposed to summon a parson), and in the candlelight she seems to truly assume the role of a priestess or divine figure. Her younger siblings watch her, and Tess appears suddenly transfigured, as if becoming a kind of god, a being wholly different from themselves.

Hardy often portrays Tess as a kind of "pagan goddess," or a symbol of innocence and nature, and yet he also contrasts this idea with her individual humanity and personhood. What makes Tess such a fascinating character is that she is both very human and somehow otherworldly or symbolic.

Chapter 18 Quotes

What a fresh and virginal daughter of Nature that milkmaid is!

Related Characters: Angel Clare (speaker), Tess Durbeyfield
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we see how Angel Clare sees Tess. He's met Tess before, but it's only here that he really starts to notice her. Although Tess has already had her child and become a soberer, more mature young woman, Angel thinks of her as "fresh and virginal"--he's blind to Tess's past, and assumes that she's entirely innocent. Indeed, he sees her more as an idea or symbol than as a real person.

Angel's interest in Tess suggests a couple things: first, that instead of worshipping a Christian God, he's attracted to a more pagan, mysterious Nature-God, as embodied by Tess. Second, it's crucial to notice that Angel can't see Tess's inner tragedy: although she's already been raped and given birth to a child, Angel doesn't know about it. The reader's knowledge of Tess's past versus Angel's ignorance, creates an ironic tension that's central to the fated, inevitable tone of the novel: we just know that Angel's going to find out about Tess sooner or later.

Chapter 19 Quotes

He was surprised to find this young woman – who though but a milkmaid had just that touch of rarity about her which might make her the envied of her housemates – shaping such sad imaginings. She was expressing in her own native phrases… feelings which might almost have been called those of the age – the ache of modernism.

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield, Angel Clare
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

As Angel gets to know Tess better, he comes to realize that she isn't as simple as he'd assumed. Here, Tess tells Angel something about her experience: when she's outside, she has no fears, but indoors, she's frightened. Moreover, she often feels depressed and thinks that the future is fated to be tragic or meaningless. Angel is amazed that Tess can be so pensive and melancholy--he'd thought of her as the stereotypical, cheerful milkmaid.

The passage is very important insofar as it ties Tess's feeling to the overall trends in British society. Tess embraces wide open spaces--the natural vistas that industrialization is gradually destroying. By contrast, she's afraid when she's inside, because closed doors symbolize the claustrophobic "looming" of civilization. Note also that it's Angel, not Tess, who phrases her melancholy as the "ache of modernism." It's Tess who feels the ache, but Angel who articulates it, and ties it in with general social trends. Angel assumes that he is more intelligent and experienced than Tess, but she actually feels what he can only observe.

Because what's the use of learning that I am one of a long row only – finding out that there is set down in some old book somebody just like me, and to know that I shall only act her part; making me sad, that's all.

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield (speaker)
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Tess is again talking with Angel Clare about her situation. Tess admits that she feels ignorant and stupid compared to the educated Angel, and Angel tries to comfort Tess by offering to teach her history. Tess demurs, however, and explains that she tries to avoid history altogether: there's no comfort for her in knowing that she comes from a "long line" of ancestors. To accept such an idea would be to accept that, some time in the past, there was a person just like her, whose destiny Tess is just replaying. Furthermore, learning more about the past just makes her feel like her own fate is predetermined and unchangeable.

The passage is counterintuitive because Tess, the embodiment of both the life-force of the English natural world and the lost history of ancient aristocracy, often seemed to symbolize England's nostalgic past. And yet Tess doesn't like to think of herself as a "symbol" of anything: she heroically struggles to be free of fate and destiny (even as it becomes increasingly clear to us that she's fated to have a short, tragic life). The passage also reminds us that Tess doesn't care at all about her ancestry or her relationship to the d'Urbervilles--which makes the fact that her family forced her to visit the d'Urbervilles and claim kinship all the more tragic.

Chapter 24 Quotes

Amid the oozing fatness and warm ferments of the Froom Vale, at the season when the rush of juices could almost be heard below the hiss of fermentation, it was impossible that the most fanciful love should not grow passionate.

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield, Angel Clare
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Hardy describes the yearly rituals of harvesting and fermenting. The people of the countryside are picking their crops and fermenting them to produce alcohol and other products. It is, in short, a season of growing and maturation. By the same token, Hardy argues, Tess and Angel's feelings for one another are growing stronger and more lively--it's inevitable, in such a time, that they'd ultimately give in to their desire for one another.

The passage uses extremely vivid, sexual language--"oozing," "warm," "hiss," etc.--to convey the extent of Tess and Angel's growing romance. The narrator again creates a sense of fatedness, suggesting that Tess and Angle have no choice but to fall in love. And yet here, the fatedness that the narrator conveys seems cheerier and more optimistic, rather than tragic. If Tess and Angel's relationship only existed within the world of the fertile Froom Vale (apart from the darkness of the Chase and the d'Urberville's world) all might have ended happily, but because of external forces and Tess's own past, the positive power of nature and love is tragically corrupted.

Chapter 31 Quotes

Distinction does not consist in the facile use of a contemptible set of conventions, but in being numbered among those who are true, and honest, and just, and pure, and lovely, and of good report – as you are, my Tess.

Related Characters: Angel Clare (speaker), Tess Durbeyfield
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Angel and Tess are contemplating their possible future together. Angel is enamored with Tess, and yet Tess insists that she's no match for an educated, intelligent man like Angel. Angel tries to reassure Tess by saying that her natural beauty and instinct is far superior to any training or social convention. In other words, Tess might lack certain manners or knowledge of the rules, but manners and rules are overrated, anyway. (He also assumes that her claims of being less moral than he is are just the qualms of the truly innocent.)

Angel's comments illustrate his free-thinking tendencies, and also his rather condescending view of Tess and life in general. Although he was raised in a severe, religious household, Angel has come to doubt religion altogether. He doesn't have much respect for people who learn the rules; he's more attracted to those like Tess who embody a natural purity and "life force" within them (or at least Angel thinks they do). Angel's beliefs are, perhaps, typical of 19th century Romantics who distrusted order and convention and favored instinct--and thus Hardy acknowledges the power of this worldview while also critiquing it as naive and sometimes dehumanizing.

Chapter 32 Quotes

“I don't quite feel easy,” she said to herself. “All this good fortune may be scourged out of me afterwards by a lot of ill. That's how Heaven mostly does.”

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield (speaker)
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Tess--preparing for a life with Angel Clare--expresses her reluctance to live with Angel. Tess loves Angel, but she senses that her past will come back to haunt her, and that she's not fated to be happy. As she explains here, she thinks that her happiness and good fortune now will eventually give way to even greater sadness and misery later on. In other words, what goes up must come down.

Tess's view of fate is harsh and pessimistic--she seems to think that "Heaven," or fate, generally tends to punish people more than it rewards them. She thinks in the terms of a Greek tragedy, with the protagonist's glory causing his downfall by the end of the play. And she's right, at least within the world of the novel (and much of Hardy's work). Tess seems to sense her fate--she seems to intuit that she isn't ever destined for lasting happiness.

Chapter 33 Quotes

“O my love, why do I love you so!” she whispered there alone; “for she you love is not my real self, but one in my image; the one I might have been!”

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield (speaker)
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

As Tess and Angel prepare to settle down together, Tess worries that her past will destroy her relationship with Angel. Tess loves Angel, but she's frightened that Angel doesn't really love her at all--instead, he loves an idealized version of her. Angel thinks of Tess as a beautiful, virginal girl, full of melancholy, lovely thoughts. Tess, however, knows that she's not as innocent or pure as Angel thinks her to be.

By modern standards, it's fair to say that Tess has been overcome with socially-imposed guilt and self-hatred. Alec is responsible for raping her and ruining her life, but Tess (and all of society around her) despises herself for having been raped by Alec. She assumes that she is "impure," and that if Angel knew the truth, he would reject her (as indeed he does). While Tess seems to be referring specifically to her past with Alec here, she is also more broadly accurate concerning Angel's tendencies to idealize and condescend towards her. He loves her, but also doesn't really know her--he loves her as a kind of "nature goddess" who embodies natural purity, innocence, and pagan wisdom.

Chapter 35 Quotes

“I repeat, the woman I have been loving is not you.”
“But who?”
“Another woman in your shape.”

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield (speaker), Angel Clare (speaker)
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Tess has revealed to Angel that she had a child (we're not told what, exactly, she tells Angel about her experience with Alec, but we know that Angel knows a lot more about Tess's past than he did before). Angel is disturbed by what he's learned. He's shocked that Tess isn't a virgin (even though he himself has just confessed that he's not a virgin either), and he's surprised that Tess could have kept such a piece of information from him for so long. Angel sums up his feelings by exactly echoing what Tess feared in the previous two chapters: he claims that he doesn't really know Tess at all; he's been in love with an idealized, false version of her.

Angel's claims are harsh but perhaps well-founded. He has idealized Tess by imagining her to be pure and innocent--he hasn't really thought of her as a human being at all. Instead, he's thought of her as a Romantic ideal, to be worshipped but not respected as a person. Thus his rejection of her is cruel and sexist (as he assumes that she has no right or reason to reject him in turn for consensually sleeping with someone else out of wedlock), but it is also somewhat "just" in that it finally reveals the truth about their relationship--that Tess has truly loved Angel for who he is, but that Angel has only loved Tess for who he imagines her to be.

Here was I thinking you a new-sprung child of nature; there were you, the belated seedling of an effete aristocracy!

Related Characters: Angel Clare (speaker), Tess Durbeyfield
Page Number: 232
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage we see the limits of Angel's love for Tess, and his character in general. Angel has thought of Tess in the most idealistic terms imaginable: he's thought of her as a sweet, innocent "nature goddess," totally separate from both sexual experience and the corruption of England's aristocratic past. Now that he knows the truth about Tess, however, he sees that his "ideal" was a fiction all along (something we had already recognized, obviously). Furthermore, Angel reveals the extent of his hypocrisy and shallowness, as he allows his academic ideals to overcome basic compassion and humanity. He's not only mad that Tess isn't a virgin--he also doesn't like that Tess is tied to the d'Urbervilles, a wealthy, aristocratic family that represents everything Angel hates.

Once again, we see Angel punishing Tess for things beyond her control. She didn't ask to be born a d'Urberville or to be raped by Alec, but Angel nonetheless judges her for her connection to Alec and for her d'Urberville heritage. Just as before, Angel isn't really judging Tess as a human being at all; he just "analyzes" her in social terms. Angel struggles to see Tess for who she really is; he's so accustomed to thinking in terms of class and nature that his impressions of women are almost always distorted.

Chapter 40 Quotes

Because nobody could love ‘ee more than Tess did! …She would have laid down her life for ‘ee. I could do no more.

Related Characters: Izz Huett (speaker), Tess Durbeyfield, Angel Clare
Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:

In his anger, disappointment, and despair Angel has spontaneously decided to travel to Brazil, and as he leaves he impulsively asks a local woman named Izz Huett (who was a friend of Tess's, and who also had strong feelings for Angel) to come with him. Angel asks Izz if she loves him more than Tess, but Izz--despite her love for Angel, and her crushing disappointment that he chose Tess--cannot affirm this falsehood. She confesses that Tess loved Angel purely and absolutely: Tess would gladly have sacrificed her life for Angel.

The passage shows Izz's loyalty to Tess, in spite of the fact that they're "competing" for Angel's affections. Furthermore, Izz's Biblical choice of phrasing ("laid down her life") suggests the religious, even Christian, quality of Tess's personality. Like Christ, Tess is willing to sacrifice herself for the good of other people--in other words, she's as generous and selfless as Angel is selfish.

Chapter 45 Quotes

This was once a Holy Cross. Relics are not in my creed; but I fear you at moments – far more than you need fear me at present; and to lessen my fear, put your hand upon that stone hand, and swear that you will never tempt me – by your charms or ways.

Related Characters: Alec d'Urberville (speaker), Tess Durbeyfield
Page Number: 311
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Tess accidentally encounters Alec, years after their last encounter. After this initial encounter, Alec and Tess walk to a mysterious place that is at once both pagan and Christian. They arrive at "Cross-in-Hand," a stone which has been in the wilderness for ages, but which supposedly used to hold a Christian cross. Alec asks Tess to put her hand on the stone and swear that she'll never "tempt" him again.

The passage is important because it shows the depths of Alec's hypocrisy. Even though it was Alec who raped Tess, Alec clearly blames Tess for "tempting" him to rape her. (This echoes society's cruel, sexist stance on the incident as well.) The pagan/Christian symbolism of the scene reinforces Tess's mystic status in the novel (and in the minds of the two main male characters): she's both a Christ-figure and a pagan nature-goddess, an innocent martyr and victim of the sins of others.

Chapter 47 Quotes

What a grand revenge you have taken! I saw you innocent, and I deceived you. Four years after, you find me a Christian enthusiast; you then work upon me, perhaps to my complete perdition!

Related Characters: Alec d'Urberville (speaker), Tess Durbeyfield
Page Number: 329
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Tess meets with Alec once again. Alec has briefly converted to Christianity and worked as a preacher, but when he reunites with Tess, he gives up religion altogether so he can pursue her again. Outrageously, Alec blames Tess for tempting him away from Christianity: he blames her for taking her "revenge" on him.

Alec, the most hypocritical character in the novel, is a weak, spoiled man, without the drive or principle to focus on any religion or ideology other than his own desires. And yet instead of blaming himself for his lust and laziness, he takes out his anger on Tess herself, again simultaneously idealizing and dehumanizing her. On an individual level, we easily see how cruel, unjust, and absurd Alec is being, and this allows Hardy to show how equally cruel, unjust, and absurd is society's condemnation of Tess.

Whip me, crush me; you need not mind those people under the rick! I shall not cry out. Once victim, always victim – that's the law!

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield (speaker), Alec d'Urberville
Page Number: 332
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Tess is both active and passive--rebelling against her victimization and accepting it. Tess has met with Alec, who accuses her of tempting him away from the clergy and seducing him. Furious with Alec's hypocrisy, Tess slaps him, and then--seeing the fury in Alec's face--dares Alec to beat her and treat her like a "victim." Her outburst shows that she's fully aware of both Alec's sinfulness and of his power to get away with being sinful: she recognizes that he treats other people like objects, to be enjoyed and then discarded--and no one condemns him for it, because he's wealthy and male.

In the past, Tess has shown signs of blaming herself for her own misfortune. (This is understandable, as it's how society as a whole views her condition.) And yet in her despair Tess seems to have reached greater clarity, as she bitterly and sarcastically suggests that Alec is responsible for her downfall, but because of her fate there's nothing she can do about it. In such a way, the passage foreshadows the end of the novel, in which Tess will truly take justice into her own hands.

Remember, my lady, I was your master once! I will be your master again. If you are any man's wife you are mine!

Related Characters: Alec d'Urberville (speaker), Tess Durbeyfield
Page Number: 332
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Alec d'Urberville again asserts his dominance over Tess. Alec has raped Tess before, and here, he shouts to Tess that he'll "master" her again. As he did years before, Alec again tries to get Tess to love him voluntarily, and when she won't, he abuses his power over and tries to force her to become "his."

Alec is complex and human, yet also the most villainous character in the novel. On one level, he's the very embodiment of England's new social elite--heartless and entitled, insensitive to nature and innocent joy, and generally obsessed with power and "mastery." Alec speaks as if he has control over his own destiny and the destiny of other people, and his class and gender support him in this--but he's also deluded, as there is still one last way Tess can wrest his power away from him (even if it means her own death as well).

Chapter 52 Quotes

The old order changeth. The little finger of the sham d'Urbervilles can do more for you than the whole dynasty of the real underneath…

Related Characters: Alec d'Urberville (speaker), Tess Durbeyfield
Page Number: 364
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Tess discovers Alec d'Urberville among the tombs of her ancient d'Urberville ancestors. Alec points out that his own family isn't actually related to the d'Urbervilles at all: they've just taken the name to give themselves more social prestige. But although Alec is a "sham d'Urberville," he actually has more money and social control than the real d'Urbervilles, who long ago lost their fortune and died off.

The passage conveys the changing order of the world. The old noble families of England are dying out, Hardy suggests, to be replaced by "new money" families that merely pretend to be old and prestigious. The social changes that make such pretensions possible include industrialization: the Industrial Revolution created a new class of wealthy businessmen without any ancestral connection to Britain's past. Because they had no such connection, they simply made one up. Thus, Alec's observations symbolize the changing economic landscape of his country. Yet Hardy doesn't idealize the landed aristocracy of the past--he merely shows how money and power continue to corrupt even in this new, supposedly more democratic age. The fact the Alec has money (and is a man) is enough to ensure that he has almost total control over Tess.

Chapter 58 Quotes

“It is as it should be,” she murmured. “Angel, I am almost glad – yes, glad! This happiness could not have lasted. It was too much. I have had enough; and now I shall not live for you to despise me!”

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield (speaker), Angel Clare
Page Number: 396
Explanation and Analysis:

Tess has murdered Alec and fled with Angel, but Angel hasn't yet been entirely sure that Tess really committed the crime she's confessed to. In this scene, Tess falls asleep at Stonehenge, as Alec watches the monument become surrounded by policemen. Tess wakes with the sun, and sadly tells Angel that she's glad that she'll be punished for her crime. As she explains, all happiness is fleeting. Even if she'd found a way to live with Angel again and start a normal life with him, her happiness would eventually have given way to tragedy, somehow--he surely would have come to "despise" her.

Tess's speech indicates that she's finally given in to the power of destiny. Previously, Tess tried to carve out freedom for herself, but in the end, she seems to accept that she has no real control over her own life. Tess's happiness--a happiness deeply rooted in the glory of nature and the outdoors--is doomed to die (just as England's natural beauty is doomed to be replaced with factories). One could say that Tess embodies the Romantic ideal, the principle that all glory and happiness is fleeting, even if the struggle to achieve such happiness is heroic. Tess has briefly and gloriously (if violently) asserted her will and humanity by killing her rapist and oppressor, but social and divine forces eventually catch up with her, and she cannot escape her tragic fate.

Chapter 59 Quotes

“Justice” was done, and the President of the Immortals, in Aeschylean phrase, had ended his sport with Tess. And the d'Urberville knights and dames slept on in their tombs unknowing.

Related Characters: Tess Durbeyfield
Page Number: 398
Explanation and Analysis:

As the novel comes to an end, Hardy it as his most ironic and scathing. Hardy describes how Tess is executed for the crime of murdering Alec d'Urberville--an act of asserting her agency and humanity over her rapist and oppressor. Instead of receiving sympathy, or society examining its own flaws (which drove her to such a fate), Tess is treated as a villain and a criminal. Hardy here gives us a sense for the cosmic scope of Tess's tragedy; a cruel god or meaningless fate (the vague "President of the Immortals") has been toying with her, and now she's finally gotten her punishment, a punishment we know she didn't really deserve.

The final sentence of the passage conveys the sublime indifference of the universe. The d'Urberville family has been shown to symbolize the glory of England's ancestral past. And yet here, Hardy suggests the impotence of all human tradition--what was once all-important seems utterly meaningless in the modern era, and is powerless to save Tess from destruction or affect the present at all. The dominance of modernity over the past is finally clear: the power of the d'Urbervilles, alongside England's pagan, natural beauty, is gone.

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Tess Durbeyfield Character Timeline in Tess of the d'Urbervilles

The timeline below shows where the character Tess Durbeyfield appears in Tess of the d'Urbervilles. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Nature and Modernity Theme Icon
Paganism and Christianity Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
...the women are performing the May-Day “clubwalk,” a tradition descended from a pagan fertility ritual. Tess Durbeyfield, a beautiful, fresh-looking girl, is one of the walkers. She sees her father riding... (full context)
Nature and Modernity Theme Icon
Social Criticism Theme Icon
Paganism and Christianity Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
...way, but Angel can't resist joining in the dance. He chooses a partner other than Tess, and she is quietly disappointed. Eventually he has to leave with his brothers. As he... (full context)
Chapter 3
Injustice and Fate Theme Icon
Social Criticism Theme Icon
Paganism and Christianity Theme Icon
Tess leaves the dance and returns to her small, sparse home. She finds her mother, Joan... (full context)
Injustice and Fate Theme Icon
Social Criticism Theme Icon
Joan goes off to fetch her husband, and Tess is left with her siblings, of whom she is the oldest. Four years younger is... (full context)
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It gets even later and Tess sends Abraham to retrieve their parents. After another half hour no one has returned from... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...newfound ancestry. There is a family of wealthy d'Urbervilles nearby, and Joan wants to send Tess to “claim kin” and ask for work, but she also hopes that a wealthy gentleman... (full context)
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Tess shows up and her appearance alone makes them get ready to leave. She and Joan... (full context)
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...is still half-asleep. Once he starts waking up he quickly reveals Joan's plan to marry Tess off to a gentleman. Tess gets impatient with her family's new preoccupation with the d'Urberville... (full context)
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Tess falls into a reverie and starts to think of her father's newfound vanity and hopes... (full context)
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The mail-cart man complains that Tess was on the wrong side of the path, and says that he has to go... (full context)
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...beehives, and that evening a wagon comes by to bring Prince's body back to Marlott. Tess returns to find her parents already know what happened. They aren't angry, but it is... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...too lazy to work much. Joan fatalistically downplays the disaster and proposes her plan to Tess. Tess protests at first, but feels so guilty about Prince's death that she agrees to... (full context)
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Tess sets out the next morning for the village of Trantridge. As she walks she turns... (full context)
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Tess is approached by the bold, handsome Alec d'Urberville. He tries to flirt with Tess but... (full context)
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Alec convinces Tess to linger with him until her ride home returns. He shows her the grounds and... (full context)
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Tess turns to go and Alec considers kissing her, but refrains. The narrator laments the cruel... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Tess feels dazed as she rides away from Trantridge. Another passenger comments on her appearance, and... (full context)
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Tess enters the house to find her mother triumphant. They have already received a letter asking... (full context)
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A week later Tess returns home from job searching to find the family rejoicing again. Alec d'Urberville has ridden... (full context)
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After thinking again of Prince's death and being teased by her younger siblings, Tess finally agrees to go. She warns her mother that she only wants to earn money,... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Tess prepares to leave for the Slopes and allows her mother to dress her up. Tess... (full context)
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...the cart to Trantridge, all of them looking innocent and beautiful. The cart appears and Tess says goodbye and walks up the hill. Joan watches the cart approach and sees with... (full context)
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...wishes she had found out if Alec was a good man or not before letting Tess go with him. But then Joan consoles herself that if Tess plays her “trump card,”... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Tess and Alec ride away from the green Vale and into the gray unknown. Alec drives... (full context)
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They start to go down another hill but this time Tess won't hold onto Alec. Instead he asks if he can kiss her. When she refuses... (full context)
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Unconsciously Tess wipes her cheek with her handkerchief, which makes Alec angry. He insists that she has... (full context)
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Tess yells an insult back at Alec and his anger suddenly dissolves. He tries to convince... (full context)
Chapter 9
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The chickens Tess is supposed to care for live in a cottage that was once someone's home but... (full context)
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Mrs. d'Urberville is waiting in an armchair, and she speaks to Tess but makes no mention of the d'Urberville name. She takes each fowl in her lap... (full context)
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Mrs. d'Urberville asks Tess if she can whistle, and Tess admits that she can. Mrs. d'Urberville asks her to... (full context)
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Tess feels better the next morning and starts to practice her whistling. Alec suddenly appears, complimenting... (full context)
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Tess begins to adjust to her position and to Alec's presence. He teases her carefully and... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...of Trantridge love to drink, and go every Saturday to get drunk in nearby Chaseborough. Tess avoids going for a while, but she finally agrees and then has a good time,... (full context)
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Tess finds all the villagers at an eerie outdoor dance, lit by hazy candles in an... (full context)
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The dance keeps going for a while, and Tess is too afraid to walk home alone. A man asks her to dance but she... (full context)
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Tess observes that many of her companions are staggering drunkenly, and the experience reminds her unpleasantly... (full context)
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Tess can't help joining in the laughter, and Car hears her and becomes enraged, as she... (full context)
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Tess feels so distressed that she accepts Alec's offer, although at almost any other moment she... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Alec and Tess ride away, and Tess starts to feel uncomfortable. Alec asks why she is not more... (full context)
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Alec gets angry at her constant distrust and invokes his superiority over her, calling Tess a “mere chit.” Then he compliments her again, and convinces her to let him put... (full context)
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Tess grows angry again and pulls away. She demands that he let her walk home, but... (full context)
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...comfort her and wraps her in his overcoat. Then he goes off into the wood. Tess starts to fall asleep. Alec takes his time but gets his bearings, and then goes... (full context)
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...dark ancient trees are all around, and birds and rabbits, but the narrator wonders where Tess's guardian angel is this night. He wonders if the god of her faith is distracted,... (full context)
Chapter 12
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The section begins a few weeks after the scene at The Chase. Tess is walking the twenty miles back home to Marlott, carrying a heavy basket but looking... (full context)
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They drive the rest of the way making small talk, and Tess sits “like a puppet” replying shortly. When she sees Marlott she starts to cry a... (full context)
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...laughs and admits he has done wrong, but he wants to make amends by giving Tess money. Tess scorns the offer and refuses to take anything from him, lest she should... (full context)
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Alec laments that Tess will never love him, and Tess affirms it. Alec sighs and downplays her melancholy, complimenting... (full context)
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A man approaches Tess from behind and they converse. He is religious, and spends his Sundays painting Bible quotes... (full context)
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The sight of her house makes Tess's heart ache. Her mother greets her excitedly until she hears what has happened. Tess also... (full context)
Chapter 13
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The people of Marlott hear about Tess's return, and many of her old friends come by to visit her, as fascinating rumors... (full context)
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After a few weeks Tess goes back to church, as she likes the singing and chanting. She tries to stay... (full context)
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The narrator points out the unfairness of Tess's plight; she feels herself as guilty, but it is really another who is guilty. She... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...She binds corn monotonously, and at last her beautiful face is revealed as that of Tess. Much time has passed and she has changed. She is now working the land in... (full context)
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After breakfast they go back to work, but now Tess glances off at the hills until a group of children arrive. The oldest girl carries... (full context)
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Tess holds her child indifferently for a while, but then suddenly kisses it fiercely. The other... (full context)
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After many months of regret, Tess had finally decided this week to go out into the fields and work. She tries... (full context)
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Tess works until evening and then is cheered by her lively female companions. But when she... (full context)
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The child gets rapidly worse and Tess despairs that he hasn't been baptized. She has accepted that she might go to Hell,... (full context)
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The child gets worse, and Tess feverishly imagines him being tortured in Hell. She decides to baptize him herself, hoping it... (full context)
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In the candlelight Tess is transformed into an “immaculate,” “regal” figure in white. She names the child “Sorrow” after... (full context)
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The next morning Sorrow dies, and the siblings cry but Tess remains serene, feeling that if God won't accept her child then he is not a... (full context)
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That night Tess buries her child by lantern-light, having bribed the sexton to get into the churchyard, and... (full context)
Chapter 15
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The narrator muses on Tess's plight. She has finally found maturity, but her path to it has rendered her crippled... (full context)
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Tess muses on the important dates in her life, and realizes that she cannot know the... (full context)
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Tess waits a long time for an opportunity, until in May she gets a letter that... (full context)
Chapter 16
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It is more than three years since The Chase, and Tess leaves her home once again. She looks back at her house and can't help regret... (full context)
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After a while Tess accepts a ride from a farmer who finds her attractive. She walks the rest of... (full context)
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At last Tess reaches the Valley of the Great Dairies, which is much larger and more fertile than... (full context)
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The universal desire to be happy has finally reached Tess. She is still only twenty, and so her spirits can rise above her dark past.... (full context)
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Tess descends into the vale, still full of the joyful energy of her surroundings. She looks... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...milk the cows. Richard Crick, the master-dairyman, is slightly better dressed than the rest, and Tess seeks him out. He greets her kindly and mentions the old d'Urberville race from the... (full context)
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Tess drinks a little milk as she works, which surprises Dairyman Crick, whose stomach can't handle... (full context)
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Tess becomes intrigued by the man, though she still can't see him behind his cow. The... (full context)
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Remembering the past upsets Tess for a while, and she fears the man knows her story and will recognize her.... (full context)
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Tess is one of only a few girls who sleep and eat at the farm. She... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...horse. For a few days Angel has been occupied with reading, so he hasn't noticed Tess's appearance yet. Then one day he is imagining a piece of music and notices a... (full context)
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Angel keeps watching Tess, and remarks to himself what an innocent “daughter of Nature” she seems. Then she suddenly... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...regularly rotates them in case a worker left and a cow refused to give milk. Tess has her favorite cows, but takes them as the rotation delivers. Soon she keeps getting... (full context)
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One evening Tess is in the garden, enjoying the silence, when she hears Angel playing the harp. She... (full context)
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Tess sneaks through the edge of the garden, which is full of wet grass and infested... (full context)
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Angel asks Tess what she is afraid of, and she says she has no fears when outside, but... (full context)
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Angel muses that it is strange that Tess should have these ideas at such a young age, although they are actually ancient troubles.... (full context)
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They slowly learn more of each other. Tess first regards Angel as a pure intelligence, and she feels inferior. One day she laments... (full context)
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Angel is again surprised, as he has had similarly troubled thoughts. He leaves and Tess stands peeling flowers, finally throwing them all to the ground. She is embarrassed by her... (full context)
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Tess asks the dairyman if Angel respects old families, and Crick warns her that Angel hates... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...workers are happy and content, at the level above neediness but below stifling high society. Tess and Angel remain in a state of limbo, but it is inevitable that they will... (full context)
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Tess and Angel meet often, as they both rise earlier than the other workers. When they... (full context)
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On these early mornings herons approach them, and Tess and Angel watch the fog cover the fields. Drops of dew cling to Tess's face... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...him and turned the butterchurn with Dollop inside until he agreed to marry her daughter. Tess is struck by this story, which was intended to be comedic, and Crick asks concernedly... (full context)
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Tess is depressed all afternoon at the thought that none of her companions saw the sadness... (full context)
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...of their devotion. Then Marian says that their love is in vain, because Angel likes Tess best. Izz declares that he won't marry Tess or any of them, but someone of... (full context)
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Tess lies awake, upset. She knows that Angel prefers her, and that he had even asked... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...the workers form a line and walk slowly across the fields, looking for garlic shoots. Tess and Angel walk side by side, but speak perfunctorily. (full context)
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Tess and Angel break from the line, and Tess tries to turn his attention to Izz... (full context)
Chapter 23
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It is Sunday morning, and Tess, Izz, Retty, and Marian have decided to go to the church a few miles away.... (full context)
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...hay. He had seen the girls from far away and hurried to help them, particularly Tess. The four of them look very pretty clinging to the bank, with flies and butterflies... (full context)
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...offers to carry them one by one through the pool, but he avoids looking at Tess. All of them blush at his offer, and he starts with Marian. Izz builds up... (full context)
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Angel starts to carry her, and compares her to Rachel from the Bible. Tess tries to compliment the other women, but Angel admits he carried them only to get... (full context)
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The others watch Tess, and then Marian blurts out that Angel likes Tess best. Their good moods have vanished,... (full context)
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Tess declares that she would refuse Angel if he asked her to marry, but she also... (full context)
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...a doctor's daughter for him to marry. They talk and weep late into the night. Tess then gives up hopes of marriage. She knows Angel has chosen her above the rest,... (full context)
Chapter 24
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One afternoon Tess starts milking one of her favorite cows, with her head resting meditatively in profile. Angel... (full context)
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Tess is surprised, but accepts his action with “unreflecting inevitableness” and gives a cry of joy.... (full context)
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The cow grows restless and Tess moves to save the milk. They sit together and Tess starts to cry. Angel worries... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...now the outside world has become dull to him and the farm is transformed by Tess's personality into a wonderful, abundant, homelike place. (full context)
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Even apart from Tess the dairy has become important to Angel. He realizes that his experiences here are as... (full context)
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Angel realizes he should probably avoid Tess for a while, but the thought is repulsive to him. He decides to go home... (full context)
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...mead from Mrs. Crick. He watches the road and thinks about his potential future with Tess, and what his family and community would think if he married her. (full context)
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...pious woman his parents want him to marry. Angel thinks of the fertile valley and Tess, and tries to avoid Mercy. (full context)
Chapter 26
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Mrs. Clare interrupts to ask about Tess's family. Angel admits that she is not a “lady,” but downplays the importance of ancestry... (full context)
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...Angel doesn't give many details, as their middle-class prejudices might make his parents biased against Tess as she is. In discussing her, Angel realizes that what he loves about Tess is... (full context)
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He departs in the morning, avoiding traveling with his brothers and eager to return to Tess. His father rides with him a while, discussing problems of the parish. Reverend Clare mentions... (full context)
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...his father's views but respects his conviction, and admires that the Reverend never asked about Tess's wealth. Angel feels closer to his father than his brothers are. (full context)
Chapter 27
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...returning to Talbothays. Everyone is napping at the dairy, but then the bell rings and Tess appears first. (full context)
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Tess does not know Angel is back, and he admires the exuberance of Nature within her... (full context)
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Angel offers to help her, so it only they two skimming the milk. Tess experiences the afternoon as a hazy, joyful dream. Angels at last asks her to marry... (full context)
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Tess suddenly seems to grow old and tired, and she says she can never be Angel's... (full context)
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They go back to milk-skimming but Tess begins to cry. Angel tries to reassure her about his parents' compassion, and asks about... (full context)
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...father. He retells the story of the insulting young skeptic, and gives enough information that Tess can tell it is Alec. The reminder of her past hardens her in her refusal,... (full context)
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Tess runs back into the open field as if trying to escape her sadness. Now that... (full context)
Chapter 28
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Angel is not upset by Tess's refusal, and he is reassured that she already let him court her, although he doesn't... (full context)
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Angel asks again about her refusal, and Tess repeats that she is not good enough for him. She affirms that she loves him,... (full context)
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Tess struggles within herself now, shaken by Angel's persuasive words. She had decided before Talbothays that... (full context)
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Tess has never experienced such simultaneous extremes of pleasure and pain before. Mr. Crick and his... (full context)
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...fickle city girl, but then he says he knows how pure and innocent she is. Tess almost breaks under her own desire, and she promises to tell Angel about her past.... (full context)
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Tess runs off and throws herself into a willow thicket. She feels both joyful and miserable,... (full context)
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Tess is too agitated to go to work, as she will be teased for being in... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...even if it meant losing him. Again the workers find the story funny while to Tess it is tragic. To her it is like people laughing at a martyr. (full context)
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Angel approaches and again proposes, and Tess refuses. He had planned to kiss her, but his surprise at her refusal stops him.... (full context)
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One dark, early morning Angel begs Tess to speak clearly at last, or he will have to leave. She asks for more... (full context)
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Later Tess and Angel follow Marian, Retty, and Izz out and Angel remarks how different they are... (full context)
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...that someone needs to take the milk straight to the station. Angel volunteers and asks Tess to come with him. She is not dressed for cold, but agrees. (full context)
Chapter 30
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...Heath, and the two are silent for a long time. It starts to rain, and Tess's hair comes undone. The evening gets cold and she and Angel huddle close under a... (full context)
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...the point where modern society daily touches their “secluded world.” They unload the milk, and Tess looks totally out of place among the machinery. (full context)
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...can stomach it. Angel changes the subject to his proposal, and again tries to clarify Tess's objections. (full context)
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Tess begins to tell her history, but Angel dismisses her worries or possibly troubled past. Tess... (full context)
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Angel laughs at her and says the history of ancient families is interesting to him. Tess realizes she has failed in her conviction, and feels she acted selfishly. Angel says he... (full context)
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Angel asks that Tess call herself d'Urberville now, and thinks his mother will be impressed. Tess would rather not,... (full context)
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Angel says she should take his name instead, and so escape the d'Urbervilles. Then Tess finally accepts and Angel kisses her. She immediately starts crying, both out of gladness and... (full context)
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...always wins against the weak and arbitrary rules of society, so it was inevitable that Tess should have agreed eventually. Tess asks to write to her mother in Marlott, and finally... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Tess writes a letter to her mother, and soon gets a response. Joan writes in a... (full context)
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Tess realizes that to Joan her past horrors were but a fleeting trouble, but that she... (full context)
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Tess is constantly surprised by Angel's chivalry and thoughtfulness. In reality she exaggerates his qualities, but... (full context)
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Tess seeks out Angel whenever they are outdoors, which seems presumptuous and immodest to him until... (full context)
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Angel keeps his arm around Tess as they walk, and Tess asks if he would be ashamed if his Emminster friends... (full context)
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They walk also in the evenings, and the other workers note the excited change in Tess's voice as they talk, and her gait which is like a bird about to land.... (full context)
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One evening they are at home alone when Tess again protests that she is unworthy. Angel responds that being honest and true is better... (full context)
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The narrator points out that Tess is still a girl and not yet mature despite her dark past. She leaves for... (full context)
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Angel wants to set a wedding date, but Tess delays, hoping to linger as they are. Angel is concerned with his future as a... (full context)
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At that moment the Cricks and two milkmaids enter, and Tess pulls away from Angel, denying that she was sitting on his knee. Dairyman Crick says... (full context)
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After dinner Tess's roommates confront her and she admits they are getting married. The three gather around Tess... (full context)
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The women comfort Tess and put her in bed, and then Marian asks her to think of them when... (full context)
Chapter 32
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Tess's guilt and joy in the engagement keeps her from naming a date. Angel keeps asking... (full context)
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Tess feels bad at being asked to leave but then is caught in a dilemma. She... (full context)
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They tell the Cricks, who congratulate them and lament losing Tess. Mrs. Crick swears that she always knew Tess was meant for great things. They really... (full context)
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...is still enjoying the recklessness of this time of his life, and his love for Tess remains naïve and fanciful, unsuspecting that she could have any troubled history. (full context)
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Angel has begun to influence Tess's way of speaking and thinking, and he fears to leave her to revert to rustic... (full context)
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...He decides to go there right after the wedding, but keeps his plans vague to Tess. (full context)
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Tess contemplates the date (December 31) in wonder. Izz asks her if Angel will follow the... (full context)
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Angel buys her new wedding clothes, and Tess is overcome with delight. She tries on the dress and then thinks of an old... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Angel wants to spend a last romantic day with Tess before their wedding. On Christmas Eve they go out shopping as a couple, and Angel... (full context)
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They return to their inn and as two men are leaving the parlor, one recognizes Tess and makes an insulting remark about her past. Angel hears and strikes him in the... (full context)
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As they ride away Tess asks again about postponing the wedding, as she is upset by the incident. She comforts... (full context)
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...the insulting man and lashes out in his sleep. This is the last straw for Tess, and she decides to confess everything in a letter. She writes it all down and... (full context)
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...cleaned and decorated the kitchen in their honor. No guests from either family arrive, as Tess invited no one and Angel's family is displeased with his hasty decision. He would be... (full context)
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Tess is still unsure if Angel read her note, so she checks his room and finds... (full context)
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Tess tries to bring up the subject lightly, but Angel dismisses it and says he will... (full context)
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...had come, but thinks they would have been out of place among the dairy workers. Tess experiences the ride in a bright haze, and feels like one of the divinities Angel... (full context)
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The ceremony passes in a blur, and once Tess reaches out to assure herself of Angel's reality. He does not yet appreciate the depth... (full context)
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Angel remarks on her expression, and Tess says she feels she has seen the old carriage before. Angel mentions the legend of... (full context)
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By the time they reach home Tess is depressed, and wonders if she is rightfully Alec's wife instead of Angel's. When she... (full context)
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They leave for the flour-mill, and Tess asks Angel to kiss Marian, Retty, and Izz once for her, as they look so... (full context)
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...crows. They hear someone mutter about a bad omen, and the bird crows twice again. Tess wants to hurry away, and the dairyman and his wife reassure themselves that it only... (full context)
Chapter 34
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Tess makes Angel break the grave-looking seal, and inside is a note for Angel from Mrs.... (full context)
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Tess leaves the jewels on, hoping they will help her cause later, and they start to... (full context)
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Angel expects Tess to be happy about their luggage, but she is upset by the girls. She feels... (full context)
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Angel interrupts her reverie and reminds Tess that he had something to confess. Tess is surprised and relieved. Angel says he did... (full context)
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Tess is relieved and now ready to tell her story, although Angel still can't believe it... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Tess finishes her story, and the “essence of things” seems to have been transformed by it.... (full context)
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Angel says forgiveness does not even apply here, that Tess is now an entirely different person than he had thought. He laughs hollowly and Tess... (full context)
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Tess sits down and finally takes pity on herself and starts to weep. She asks if... (full context)
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...confession. He leaves the house to think, and their twin wine glasses stand tragically full. Tess follows him out into the clear night. Angel's figure looks black and ominous, and he... (full context)
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Tess follows Angel for a long time. The night clears his mind and he can think... (full context)
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Angel admits that the sin was not her fault, but says Tess does not understand his society and manners. He cannot help but think that her ancestry... (full context)
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Tess offers to drown herself in the river to spare Angel his pain. Angel calls her... (full context)
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Angel returns later and is both relieved and bitter that Tess is asleep. He almost enters her room, but then looks again at the d'Urberville portraits... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...the room seems like the scene of a crime. He makes breakfast and calls for Tess, and her morning hopes die at the sight of Angel's face. The couple is as... (full context)
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Tess looks purer and more innocent than ever, and Angel almost can't believe that her story... (full context)
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Tess says he could still divorce her, but Angel calls her crude and not understanding of... (full context)
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They eat breakfast mechanically and then Angel goes off to study with the miller. Tess watches him disappear over the bridge and then cleans and waits for his return. At... (full context)
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...and says to stop working, that she is not his slave but his wife, and Tess says she thought she was not respectable enough for him. She starts to cry and... (full context)
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More days pass in the same manner, and one morning Tess offers her face to kiss, but Angel ignores it. She is crushed by his rejection,... (full context)
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Angel spends all his time trying to figure out what to do next, and tells Tess he cannot live with her without despising both of them. He cannot accept that Alec... (full context)
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Tess had hoped that she could wear down Angel's resolve just by being close to him,... (full context)
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Tess still might have used her own beauty and the image of a far-off land to... (full context)
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Tess suggests that they part and she return home, but she is upset when Angel quickly... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Late that night Angel sleepwalks into Tess's room and begins to grieve that she is dead. Tess knows that in times of... (full context)
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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,... (full context)
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Tess is pleased that Angel's subconscious self still regards her as his wife, and then she... (full context)
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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.... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Angel gives Tess some money and takes her jewels to keep safe in the bank, and then they... (full context)
Chapter 38
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Tess returns again to her home valley and asks the turnpike-keeper for news. The only news... (full context)
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Tess enters through the back door and her mother is shocked to see her. Joan interrogates... (full context)
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...taken the news in stride as if it were no more than a rainy day. Tess goes upstairs and sees that her bed belongs to other siblings now. She overhears her... (full context)
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Tess gets a letter from Angel saying he is in North England, and she pretends she... (full context)
Chapter 39
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...ideals. He has been troubled in his thoughts lately, often dwelling on the fact that Tess is a d'Urberville, as if that was the cause of all the trouble. He feels... (full context)
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...advertising Brazil as a place to pursue agriculture. The idea attracts him, and he imagines Tess joining him there later. He now readies to tell his parents his plan and downplay... (full context)
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Again Angel arrives without warning, and his mother is surprised Tess is not with him. He tells them about Brazil but they question him about Tess.... (full context)
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Mrs. Clare is still disappointed and asks Angel to describe Tess. She imagines how beautiful and pure Tess must be, and how inexperienced with other men.... (full context)
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...Angel what is wrong, and quickly figures out that they have quarreled over something in Tess's past. Angel argues that she is innocent, and feels he would suffer Hell to keep... (full context)
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...he will appear as a failure to his family. He grows angry with the absent Tess for causing him such despair. (full context)
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That same night Tess is thinking of how good Angel is. Neither of them perceive that the real trouble... (full context)
Chapter 40
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Angel arranges for a stipend to be sent to Tess later, and hopes she will ask his father for money in an emergency, but he... (full context)
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...At that moment Izz Huett appears, as she had been hoping to visit Angel and Tess there. (full context)
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...and Angel offers her a lift home. As they ride together Angel admits he and Tess are apart right now, and he is going to Brazil alone. Izz says that Retty... (full context)
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They keep riding, and Angel asks if Izz loves him more than Tess does. Izz cannot help but say that she does not, that Tess would have “laid... (full context)
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...to stick to the choice he already made, comforting himself that he can send for Tess soon. He takes the train to London and from there boards a ship. (full context)
Chapter 41
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Eight months have passed and Tess is again poor and laboring. She has worked occasionally at other dairies and farms in... (full context)
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Tess needs another job, but she prefers rural, outdoors work, as her only experiences with society... (full context)
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Tess begins to lose hope and rambles onward as thoughtlessly as a “wild animal.” She often... (full context)
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Tess thinks of Angel far away and feels that she is the most unhappy thing in... (full context)
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Tess starts to hear a strange sound, but when she realizes it is coming from animals... (full context)
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Tess feels akin to the pheasants in their suffering and she breaks the necks of the... (full context)
Chapter 42
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Tess returns to the road feeling strengthened, but she still cannot be happy as long as... (full context)
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Tess keeps asking for employment at farms on her path, as she has heard that Marian's... (full context)
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The village is empty until one woman approaches, and Tess sees that it is Marian. Tess slowly reveals how unhappy she is, and that Angel... (full context)
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Tess agrees to work until the holiday of Lady-Day, and they are happy to hire her... (full context)
Chapter 43
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Flintcomb-Ash is a dreary place not even cared for by its residents, but Tess sets to work hacking at turnips in a field of rocks. The earth and sky... (full context)
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...with circumstances that deny pleasure. Marian drinks as she works, and finds her enjoyment there. Tess's power of dreaming is enough for her. (full context)
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The mornings are frosty and the afternoons rainy, and Tess works constantly, but still she hopes for Angel's forgiveness. Marian wishes more friends from Talbothays... (full context)
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...have seen the wonders and horrors of the far North, and they land near to Tess and Marian. One day it starts to snow, and so they have to trudge off... (full context)
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They start to work and then the owner, Farmer Groby, arrives. Tess recognizes him as the man from Trantridge she had run from on the highway. He... (full context)
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Izz and Marian remain with Tess to finish the reed-drawing, and they start to reminisce. Tess again asks to not discuss... (full context)
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...her, which is the story of Angel asking her to come to Brazil with him. Tess goes white and then starts to cry. She resolves to write to Angel, feeling that... (full context)
Chapter 44
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Tess wonders if she should ask the Clares for Angel's address. She has been too independent... (full context)
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...her the best, despite their own passions. It has been a year since the wedding. Tess feels hopeful that she can win Mrs. Clare over. She passes by the Vale of... (full context)
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...reaches Mr. Clare's stern-looking church and takes off her walking boots before entering the town. Tess looks for a good omen but none appears. She calls at Angel's house but no... (full context)
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Tess realizes the men are Angel's brothers, and she dreads meeting them. They see a young... (full context)
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Tess despairs and starts to weep. She cannot help but see the scene as a bad... (full context)
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Tess dissolves into self-pity and starts the long walk back to Flintcomb-Ash. She does not realize... (full context)
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...not stop until she reaches a barn with a fiery Christian preacher giving a service. Tess can hear his words as she passes, and he describes how he was once a... (full context)
Chapter 45
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Tess cannot help being afraid when she sees Alec, and it feels grotesque to watch him... (full context)
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Tess decides to leave immediately, but when she moves again Alec notices her. The passion of... (full context)
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She hears footsteps behind her and Alec approaches, agitated. Tess wishes he had not followed her, and speaks to him with scorn. Alec disparages his... (full context)
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He tries to both apologize and preach to Tess, who becomes enraged, pointing out the horror that Alec should be able to use her... (full context)
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Alec asks Tess to put down her veil, as she is tempting him, and she can't help feeling... (full context)
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...cross. The place seems ancient and sinister. Alec says he has to leave and asks Tess about her new way of speaking, and the trouble she had mentioned. She tells him... (full context)
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Alec says they will meet again, but Tess warns him not to come near her. Alec says he fears Tess now, and he... (full context)
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Tess meets a shepherd and asks him about Cross-in-Hand. He says it is haunted, a place... (full context)
Chapter 46
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A few weeks later Tess is in the field with a male worker throwing turnips into a slicing machine, when... (full context)
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Alec blames himself for corrupting Tess's innocent life, but also her parents for not warning her of men like him. He... (full context)
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They step away from the other worker to talk. Alec is shocked when Tess says she loves someone else, and he calls her improper. Finally Tess reveals that she... (full context)
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...says he at least wants to help her financially, and is surprised to hear that Tess's husband is far away. She says it is because he found out about Alec. He... (full context)
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At that moment Farmer Groby rides up, mad that Tess isn't working. Alec defends her angrily but finally leaves. Tess is almost relieved at Groby's... (full context)
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That night Tess writes another, more desperate letter to Angel, but again she remembers the episode with Izz... (full context)
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...up at her lodgings. He is agitated and admits that he can't stop thinking about Tess since he saw her. He asks her to pray for him, but Tess says she... (full context)
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Alec scorns her for parroting her husband's beliefs, and Tess defends Angel with a faithfulness he doesn't deserve. She repeats some of his arguments to... (full context)
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Alec gets angry at Tess for tempting him and causing him to backslide, comparing her to Eve or a “witch... (full context)
Chapter 47
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...corn. Old men talk of the hand-labor of the old days, which got better results. Tess does not even have time to talk, she must work so fast to satisfy the... (full context)
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Tess doesn't notice that Alec d'Urberville has arrived and is watching her. He is dressed fashionably... (full context)
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Tess asks why he keeps bothering her, but Alec accuses her of bothering him by haunting... (full context)
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Alec admits that Angel's arguments have convinced him, and Tess asks that he keep the religion of kindness and purity, if not doctrine. But Alec... (full context)
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Alec emphasizes how Angel has abandoned Tess, and again he propositions her, implying that he is closer to her than her mythical... (full context)
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Alec does not retaliate, but he does threaten Tess that he will be her master again, and if she belongs to anyone it is... (full context)
Chapter 48
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Farmer Groby makes them keep working by moonlight, and Alec returns to watch Tess. The work seems endless and the threshing-machine insatiable. The machine shakes her into a reverie.... (full context)
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Alec approaches Tess again and offers to help her. She tries to give him the benefit of the... (full context)
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That night Tess writes a passionate letter to Angel, begging that he return because she is so terribly... (full context)
Chapter 49
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The Clares receive Tess's letter and hope that it will make Angel hurry home. Mrs. Clare's only complaint to... (full context)
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...important than results. This makes him start to feel guilty about how he has treated Tess. He wonders why she doesn't write, and assumes she is doing well. (full context)
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...marriage. The stranger has traveled in many cultures and remarks how limited Angel's views are. Tess's past should be nothing compared to her present, and Angel was wrong to reject her. (full context)
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Angel thinks again of Izz's words and of Tess's faith in him on their wedding day. Slowly he becomes Tess's advocate against himself, and... (full context)
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Angel also realizes that despite her “impure” past, Tess is still the ideal of purity and freshness that he had loved, and so his... (full context)
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Tess meanwhile fluctuates in her hopes of Angel's return. She decides to learn to sing some... (full context)
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...their father is also ill, and he still won't work because of his high ancestry. Tess decides to leave the farm early and start home that night. (full context)
Chapter 50
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Tess walks under the stars and finally reaches the heavy soil of Blackmoor, and the forests... (full context)
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Tess begins to work in the garden, as no one has tended to it lately, and... (full context)
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...d'Urberville. He looks grotesque in the dim light and peasant's clothes, and he laughs at Tess's shock and compares her to Eve, and himself to Satan. He quotes Milton to her. (full context)
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Alec says he has come entirely for Tess, and offers to help her family out of love for her. He mentions her young... (full context)
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Tess starts home and is met by one of her sisters who says that their father... (full context)
Chapter 51
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...don't directly work their land. The village also disapproves of the household's shiftlessness, drunkenness, and Tess's scandals, so no one will help them from being evicted. (full context)
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The night before they depart, Tess is home alone, feeling guilty for her part in the family's situation, as some villagers... (full context)
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Tess says she thought he was a carriage passing by, and Alec tells her the story... (full context)
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Tess admits that her family is being kicked out because she is not a “proper woman,”... (full context)
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Tess suddenly feels the injustice of her situation, and realizes how harsh Angel has been to... (full context)
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Tess writes a sudden, passionate letter to Angel, lamenting how badly he has treated her. She... (full context)
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The children gather around and Tess reminds them that this is their last night at home, and they sing a song... (full context)
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Joan returns and hears that a gentleman has been by. She thinks it was Tess's husband, but Tess says he will never return. She cannot help but feel that Alec... (full context)
Chapter 52
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The Durbeyfields have to hire a wagon to move themselves out. Tess is at least glad it's not raining. They load up onto the ancient cart and... (full context)
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They meet other moving wagons on the road, and Tess sees Marian and Izz among them. They have fled Flintcomb-Ash, and warn her that Alec... (full context)
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Tess looks sadly at the familiar pile of belongings. They set up their bed outside, next... (full context)
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Tess meanwhile enters the church and walks among her family's tombs. Everything about them is ancient... (full context)
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...more to help her than all these dead knights and famous ancestors. He leaves, and Tess wishes she were dead, on the other side of the vault door. (full context)
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Meanwhile Izz and Marian ride on, talking of Tess, Angel, and Alec. They are worried that Tess will succumb to Alec if Angel does... (full context)
Chapter 53
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...he admits he has been ill. He asks if any more letters have come from Tess. (full context)
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Angel reads Tess's second, angry letter and despairs that she will never forgive him. Mrs. Clare disparages her... (full context)
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Angel decides to break the news of his return slowly in case Tess is still angry. He assumes she is still living in Marlott under his allowance, and... (full context)
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He waits a while at home but Joan does not write again. Angel rereads Tess's first letter and decides to find her immediately. Mr. Clare says she never asked him... (full context)
Chapter 54
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Angel sets out to find Tess. He passes by Cross-in-Hand, the sinister stone where Tess swore to never tempt Alec again,... (full context)
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...happily in their place, and Angel cannot help but hate the place for not containing Tess. The children tell him that the Durbeyfields intended to go to Kingsbere. (full context)
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On his way out of town Angel passes by the field where he first saw Tess at the May-Day dance, and he sees John Durbeyfield's grave marked with “How Are The... (full context)
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...Kingsbere and finds Joan's house. She is unwelcoming to him and won't tell him where Tess is. The children ask if this is the man come to marry Tess, but Joan... (full context)
Chapter 55
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...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. (full context)
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...Angel is excited and goes there to find it is a luxurious lodging-house. He fears Tess is working there. (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Tess appears dressed in expensive, elegant clothes. She stands still on the threshold, and Angel begs... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 56
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...hears nothing through the ceiling, so she finishes her breakfast and knits. Then she sees Tess passing outside and into the street with a veil over her face. Mrs. Brooks goes... (full context)
Chapter 57
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...him to turn around and he sees someone pursuing him. Finally he realizes it is Tess. (full context)
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Tess says she has killed Alec, and she smiles. Angel thinks she is delirious. She says... (full context)
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Angel embraces Tess and say he does love her, but he still isn't sure if she has actually... (full context)
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...the murder is a hallucination or not, Angel sees he needs to take care of Tess, and finally he kisses her and promises to never leave her again. They walk together... (full context)
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...about in random paths like children. Angel enters an inn for food but he makes Tess stay outside, as she is still dressed in noticeable finery. (full context)
Chapter 58
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That night Tess tells Angel the story of his sleepwalking episode, but she begs him not to talk... (full context)
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Tess and Angel awake uneasily and decide to leave. Tess says goodbye to the happy place,... (full context)
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Tess lies down on a slab of rock and does not want to go further. Angel... (full context)
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Tess feels solemn and peaceful, and suddenly she asks Angel if he will marry her sister... (full context)
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Tess asks if they sacrificed to God at Stonehenge, but Angel says it was to the... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 59
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...Angel Clare and the other is Liza-Lu, who has become the image of a young Tess. They hold hands as they walk. (full context)
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“The President of the Immortals” has finally ended his game of Tess's fate, and the world has carried out its justice. Angel and Liza-Lu fall to the... (full context)