Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

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Phase the Fourth: The Consequence, Chapters 30–34: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
A man from Trantridge: recalling Tess’s past, he makes a judgmental comment about her

The carriage driver: a broken-down, 60-year-old with a running wound on his leg

Jonathan Kail: a simple minded farm worker

Summary
Along the way to the station, Angel points out Wellbridge Manor, a converted farmhouse that was once a mansion belonging to the D’Urberville family. Angel again pleads with Tess to marry him. She says she must first tell him about her history and begins to tell him about her upbringing and hometown. Just as she is about to tell her past troubles, she says instead that she is not a Durbeyfield, but a D’Urberville. Angel takes this for the revelation she was concealing, and Tess does not correct this misimpression. He sees the news of her ancestry as positive, since society, and especially his mother, will be more accepting of Tess if she has noble blood. Tess finally says “Yes!” to Angel, and immediately sobs. She asks for permission to write her mother. When she says she lives in Marlott, Angel finally realizes where he has seen her. Tess hopes that being overlooked that day will not turn out to be an ill omen.

Joan sends a letter to Tess, advising her not to tell Angel about her past problems. Tess feels that the responsibility has been lifted from her shoulders, and she and Clare enjoy open-air courting. Angel asks Tess to fix their marriage date, but Tess is reluctant, preferring a “perpetual betrothal.” After they are caught embracing, Angel announces to Crick and their friends at the dairy that they will be married soon. The milkmaids are awestruck at Tess’s news. Their admiration activates Tess’s guilt: “You are all better than I!” She vows again to tell Clare her past.

Fewer milkmaids are necessary as winter comes, and Angel uses this fact to force Tess’s hand. They agree to get married by the end of the year. Angel has an opportunity to work at a flour-mill nearby at that time. Angel decides on Wellbridge Manor, near this flour-mill, as a honeymoon site. The wedding is set for December 31. Angel has taken a wedding license, rather than having the banns of marriage announced in church; he has also asked the Cricks to keep the date a secret. These arrangements please Tess, who desires privacy so that no one will tell Angel about D’Urberville, but she fears she will pay for her good fortune. Angel buys Tess wedding clothes.

To enjoy some time together before the wedding, Angel and Tess go into town for Christmas Eve. While waiting for Angel, Tess is observed by a man from the Trantridge area. This man begins to insult Tess; when Angel hears these words, he punches the man. The stranger apologizes, Angel gives him five pounds, and they part with no hard feelings. That night, Clare acts out the fight in his sleep, and Tess vows to inform him, this time in writing, all about herself. She puts a four-page letter under his door. The next day he shows no response; could she have been forgiven already? The morning of her wedding, she realizes he must not have read the letter. She discovers that it was wedged out of sight, under a carpet near his door. The anxious bridesmaid asks to be allowed to make a confession of her faults. Angel brushes her worries aside, saying they should both be perfect to each other on their wedding day.

The crowd at the church is small. Neither Angel’s parents nor brothers nor Tess’s parents attend. To Tess, sublimely in love with Clare, nothing matters except her husband. She “felt glorified by an irradiation not her own,” so overpowering to her was the joy of wedding Angel.

After the ceremony, Tess becomes downcast, oppressed by a sense of seriousness. Angel attempts to jest her out of this mood, making a quip about the Wellbridge Manor being one of Tess’s ¬“ancestral mansions.” They are alone at the manor for their first night as a wedded couple, and enjoy a meal together. A messenger arrives with a package for “Mrs. Angel Clare.”...

(The entire section is 1,728 words.)