Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Tess of the d'Urbervilles book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download Tess of the d'Urbervilles Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Phase the Fifth: The Woman Pays, Chapters 35–44: Summary and Analysis

Summary
Angel simply cannot think after Tess’s revelation. Tess pleads to be forgiven as she has forgiven Angel, but to Angel it is as if he is looking at another woman in the shape of Tess. The pair wander the countryside at night, Tess walking behind Clare. Tess even volunteers to kill herself, but Angel will not allow such an absurd action. When they get home, Tess goes into their bedroom and eventually falls asleep. Clare is about to enter the room when he is checked by the sight of the merciless, arrogant portraits of Tess’s D’Urberville ancestors, which bear a resemblance to her.

For several days, the newlyweds lead a formal existence. Angel demands to know if her story is true; Tess sadly says yes. Clare asks if the man in question is still living, and again Tess replies yes. Angel vents angry sarcasm at the thought that he rejected a socially advantageous marriage yet has, nevertheless, been deprived of the rustic innocence he thought Tess represented. Tess points out that “it is in your own mind what you are angry at…it is not in me.”

Angel cannot accept that their marriage is authentic, since D’Urberville and not he is Tess’s “husband in Nature.” Even if he could accept their marriage, their children, he points out, would bear calumny if the true history of their mother were revealed. Perhaps if the man were dead, that would make a difference, Angel tells her. Tess suggests divorce, but Angel does not consider it an option because of his religion. Never arguing for herself, Tess meekly takes Angel’s rejection and coldness as her due. She is willing to do whatever Angel commands. After several days, they discuss parting. Angel recommends the idea, telling Tess, “I think of people more kindly when I am away from them.”

The night before they are to part, Angel sleepwalks, carrying Tess across a narrow footbridge and then laying her down in an empty stone coffin. In his sleep, Angel cries out “Dead! Dead! Dead!” but also admits his love for Tess. The next morning, he shows no recollection, and she decides not to mention the incident. Husband and wife separate: Tess will journey back home to her family at Marlott. Angel places 50 pounds and the wedding jewels in trust to provide Tess spending money. “Until I come to you,” he says, “it is better that you should not try to come to me.”

At home, Tess tells her mother her husband is not with her, but she covers up the true extent of the split. When Tess tearfully says she confessed her past to her husband, Joan ridicules her for not taking her advice. When John Durbeyfield is told his daughter has returned home, he asks, “D’ye think he really have married her?—or is it like the first?” Not being trusted by her own father is a blow to Tess’s pride. Seeing there is no room in the house for her, and feeling that she brings discredit upon her family, Tess leaves, giving 25 pounds to her family to compensate for the suffering she has put them through.

Clare’s troubles cannot be lessened by the consoling philosophy he has learned. He visits his parents, telling them when they are surprised by his wife’s absence, that he is going alone to Brazil for a year to investigate farming opportunities, and his parents will meet his bride later on. Sensing trouble, Mrs. Clare asks Angel if his wife is the sort of woman “whose history bears investigation.” Angel lies, saying Tess is “spotless.” At dinner, his father reads from the Bible King Lemuel’s praise of a good wife: “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” A “slave to custom and conventionality when surprised back into his early teachings,” Angel cannot perceive that Tess deserves such praise as much as any other woman.

Angel must go to Wellbridge Manor, the site of his honeymoon, to pick up a few belongings. On the road he sees Izz Huett. Feeling he has been treated unfairly and been too respectful of convention, Angel asks Izz to accompany him to...

(The entire section is 2,132 words.)