The d'Urberville coach is an old legend of the family which Angel
mentions and Alec
later explains to Tess
. It concerns some ancient d'Urberville who abducted a beautiful woman and then inadvertently killed her when she tried to escape his coach. Whenever a d'Urberville hears the sound of an invisible coach it is supposed to be a bad omen, or even to forebode that murder is about to be committed. The coach is a symbol of foreshadowing and the theme of fate that looms over all the characters in the novel. Tess cannot escape the cruel things that happen to her, no matter how “pure” she remains at heart. The coach also symbolizes the ancient idea of being punished for one's ancestors. This is pointed out by the narrator when the Durbeyfields are evicted from their home, perhaps because of the many houses the old d'Urbervilles had taken from peasants. Tess's murder of Alec is also associated with this legend, as the symbol of the fateful coach implies both that she is the woman capture in Alec's "coach" and that, as a d'Urberville she always had an inescapable murderous strain in her blood.