Explain this quote  by Alec from Tess of the d'Urbervilles:  "Remember my Lady I was your master once! I will be your master again." When was Alec her master once and again?

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Alec rides up at the fair on a horse takes Tess home.  While taking her home he gets them lost in the woods.  He tells Tess to wait until he finds the way back to the road.  While she waited she fell asleep.  When he returned to her and found her asleep, Alec takes sexual liberties with Tess.  She becomes his lover for 4 months and then sneeks out of the house to walk home.  This was the first time he was her "master".  As she  walks home and he rides up to tell her he will take her the rest of the way.  When he drops her off he says:

" And yet, Tess, will you come back to me! Upon my soul I don't like to let you go like this!"

Alec hunts Tess down over and over. He continues to try and sway her to return to him.

He shakes her by the shoulders and tells her, “Remember, my lady, I was your master once! I will be your master again.”

And eventually she does go back to Alec. After much hardship and being abandoned by Angel, she finally relents to Alec again and becomes his wife.  He has convinced her that Angel is never going to return.  This is the second time he becomes her "master."   She kills Alec in a fit of rage after Angel does return and then she runs away with Angel.  She is eventually caught and hung for the murder of Alec.

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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