Last Updated May 26, 2023.
On their way to the train station, Angel draws attention to Wellbridge Manor, a transformed farmhouse that was previously a mansion owned by the D'Urberville family. Once more, Angel urges Tess to marry him. She insists on disclosing her background before agreeing and starts to narrate her childhood and the place she grew up. However, when she is on the verge of revealing her past difficulties, she claims that she isn't a Durbeyfield but rather a D'Urberville.
Angel interprets this as the secret Tess has been hiding, and she does not clarify the misunderstanding. Nevertheless, he views the information about her noble lineage positively, as it will make her more accepted by society, particularly his mother. Tess ultimately agrees to be with Angel, immediately bursting into tears. She requests permission to contact her mother, and upon mentioning that she resides in Marlott, Angel recognizes where he had previously encountered her. Tess expresses her hope that their initial missed encounter will not prove to be an unfortunate sign.
Joan writes a letter to Tess, suggesting she keep her past issues a secret from Angel. This makes Tess feel a weight has been lifted, and she happily spends time with Clare outdoors. Although Angel proposes setting a wedding date, Tess hesitates, favoring an endless engagement. When they are seen in a romantic embrace, Angel informs Crick and their friends at the dairy of their upcoming nuptials. The news leaves the milkmaids in awe of Tess, but their admiration triggers her guilt. "You are all superior to me!" Tess exclaims, resolving once more to reveal her past to Clare.
As winter approaches, the need for milkmaids decreases, prompting Angel to use this situation to persuade Tess to marry him. They agree to wed before the year ends. At that time, Angel has a job opportunity at a nearby flour mill. He chooses Wellbridge Manor, close to the mill, for their honeymoon destination. The couple plans to marry on December 31. Instead of announcing their marriage banns in church, Angel acquires a wedding license and requests the Cricks to keep the date confidential. Tess appreciates these discreet arrangements, as they prevent anyone from revealing her past with D'Urberville to Angel. However, she is apprehensive that there might be a price for this good fortune. Angel purchases wedding attire for Tess.
On Christmas Eve, Angel and Tess spend time together in town before their wedding. While awaiting Angel, a man from Trantridge spots Tess and starts insulting her. Upon hearing the insults, Angel punches the man. The man apologizes; Angel hands him five pounds, and they part amicably. That night, Clare reenacts the fight in his sleep, prompting Tess to decide to reveal her past to him in a written letter. She slides a four-page letter under his door, but he doesn't react the next day. Is it possible that he has already forgiven her? On the morning of their wedding, Tess realizes he didn't read the letter, as it was hidden under a carpet near his door. The nervous bride-to-be asks for the opportunity to confess her shortcomings. However, Angel dismisses her concerns, insisting that they should see each other as perfect on their wedding day.
The congregation at the church is limited in size. None of Angel's family members, including his parents and siblings, as well as Tess's parents, are present. However, Tess is so profoundly in love with Clare that nothing else holds significance. She experiences a sense of exaltation, seemingly stemming from an external source, due to the immense happiness of marrying Angel.
Following the ceremony, Tess is overcome with a...
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somber demeanor, weighed down by the gravity of the situation. In an effort to lighten her mood, Angel playfully remarks that Wellbridge Manor may be one of Tess's "ancestral mansions." The newlyweds find themselves alone at the manor for their first evening together as husband and wife, sharing a meal. Next, a courier delivers a package addressed to "Mrs. Angel Clare." The parcel contains a complete set of jewels, a present from Angel's late godmother for the woman he chose to marry. These jewels serve to enhance Tess's innate beauty. Eventually, Jonathan Kail arrives with some of their possessions, though later than anticipated due to unfortunate occurrences at Talbothays.
Retty Priddle has attempted suicide by drowning; Marian, who typically abstains from alcohol, became severely intoxicated; and Izz Huett has succumbed to despair. Tess contemplates how those with the greatest cause for sorrow often feign happiness, and she resolves to disclose everything to Angel. "She would settle her debts to the last penny; she would reveal everything right then and there." Angel initiates the conversation, admitting he has something to confess to Tess that he should have shared earlier – precisely Tess's predicament!
Angel starts to share his confession, stating that although he is not wicked, he once engaged in 48 hours of immoral behavior with an unknown person in London. Finally, Tess offers her forgiveness to Angel. Confident that she will also receive forgiveness for a similar mistake, Tess recounts the complicated story of her association with Alec D'Urberville in a composed tone.