tess of the durbervilles

Title: tess of the durbervilles
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THOMAS HARDY: THE AUTHOR AND HIS TIMES Some writers draw little from their birthplace. For Thomas Hardy, however, the Dorset region of England (known in his novels as Wessex) where he was born, raised, and lived nearly all his life, was the vital wellspring and setting of most of his novels. Born in 1840, he spent his childhood in a fertile rural region, full of old folk superstitions, ballads, and fatalistic beliefs. At the same time, modern industrial life was creeping into Dorset and its old-style agrarianism (farming life) was fast fading. In many ways, Thomas Hardy lived between the old world and the new, trying to fashion a truce between the two in his fictional creations. The Victorian Age in which Hardy lived was alive with contradictions and conflicts. While people were supposed to live in accordance with the Bible and its ethics, they all too often took the sacred words in a harsh, literal sense rather than with a spirit of mercy and compassion. At the same time many of these social and religious dogmas did more to keep the poor serving the new wealthy middle classes than to promote the good of humanity. We'll see how unjustly Tess is treated by a society that obeys the letter rather than the spirit of the law. We'll also see in Hardy's novel how money and power can cause people to compromise human dignity and liberty. Like the fictional d'Urbervilles, Hardy's family had been prominent in the past, with a number of philanthropists, famous generals, and barons. But by the time Tommy, as his parents called him, was born, his family, like Tess', had lost its wealth, power, and prominence. Hardy's father, a mason and house-builder, was a craftsman. His mother's family members, once part of the landed gentry, were now poor servants.) From his mother, Hardy inherited a fascination for old, extinct families, a love of classical books, and a certain plainfolk fatalism in which "what will be, will be." His father was a boisterous man who loved playing the fiddle with Tommy at church affairs and local folk festivities, like the ones we'll see in Tess. Hardy's love for music is obvious in the melodic, ballad-like quality of his finest works. The story of Tess is very much like the oldtime ballads Hardy heard as a Dorset boy. These traditional songs abound with fair young maids murdering their seducers and star-crossed lovers lying dead--but still embracing--under greenwood trees. The Hardys were avid churchgoers, and the Bible was probably Tommy's first reader. You'll notice when you read Tess that Hardy quotes the Bible extensively. Like Angel Clare, a major character in Tess, Hardy was originally bound for the clergy, but his family's economic needs, as well as his own religious doubts, caused him to become an architect instead. He loved Shakespeare and followed with interest all the newest evolutionary creeds, as well as the determinist philosophies of his times. You'll see all these influences in Tess. Hardy was always a shy, reclusive individual who loved the solitary, nature-filled life of the Dorset countryside. He never felt at home in cities. He became seriously ill and depressed during both his extended stays in London. Even as a boy he was fascinated by the grotesque, which figures largely in the ancient forests and d'Urberville crypts of Tess. He observed two hangings in his childhood. He viewed one hanging avidly from the top of a hill with a telescope. This hanging is memorialized in Tess. Roman and Druidic ruins were all around Hardy in Dorset, and their rough majesty and wild paganism sent his vivid imagination soaring, as we'll see in the Stonehenge sequence of Tess. Primitive edifices turn up throughout Tess, forcing us to see Hardy's characters within an historic and universal framework. Hardy took great pride in restoring old churches, in which 500 years of varying architectural styles might be present in one building. His work on such churches may have taught him how to combine and intermix several eras in his literary works. Throughout Tess, history ties everything together. The characters are forever floating back and forth between daily humdrum existence and noble pasts. Hardy's job as an architect entailed meeting many colorful local folk who spoke the rich and rough Dorset dialect. Hardy uses this dialect in Tess to represent the common folk and lend a special, lyrical rhythm to the novel. Tess herself, like Thomas Hardy, spoke the dialect as well as the Standard English that was just beginning to be taught in the schools. Like Angel, Hardy was emotionally tied to rural England, but was too well educated to feel he completely belonged there. Everyone, after reading Tess, has to wonder if there was a real-life model for its fascinating heroine. No one knows for sure, but there is some well-founded conjecture that Tess is based on Hardy's beautiful, mysterious cousin, Tryphenia Sparks. Hardy may have once been in love with Tryphenia, who died just months before Hardy began writing Tess. After her death, Hardy wrote impassioned poems to her on the theme that "absence makes the heart grow fonder." Angel Clare expresses similar sentiments in Tess. In 1872 while Hardy was still wavering between careers in architecture and writing, he met and married Emma Gifford, a woman from a higher social class than his own. He'd recently published his first novel, after years of rejection, and would soon write his now-famous Far from the Madding Crowd (1874). The Mayor of Casterbridge was published in 1886, followed by several less ambitious works. In 1891 he published Tess of the D'Urbervilles and, in 1895, his last novel, Jude the Obscure. After the notoriety of Jude and Tess, Hardy gave up trying to write novels to please a mass audience and returned to poetry, his first love. Hardy's wife, Emma, died in 1912 and though he had made her life fairly miserable, he never stopped mourning her death. The Hardys suffered much as a married couple, and the problems of men and women living together as life partners are demonstrated in Tess. Emma and Thomas came from different social classes and backgrounds and had different expectations. Emma loved socializing and London, while Thomas was a country hermit. They never had any children and life at their home, Max Gate, seemed dreary to outsiders. After Emma's death, Thomas, now in his seventies, married his young secretary, Florence Dugdale, who cared for him until he died in 1928. He is buried at Westminster Abbey next to Charles Dickens, though his heart, by his own request, is buried next to his first wife's grave. Tess of the D'Urbervilles was originally published as a serial in a magazine. In order to get past magazine censorship, Hardy was forced to cut some of the more sexually explicit passages. (These are all restored in current editions.) To mollify his magazine audience, Tess is made to think she has married Alec (a mock service is performed). That way, she doesn't know she's having sex out of wedlock. In the magazine version, Tess doesn't have a child by Alec, and she returns to live with him at Sandbourne. When Hardy published the complete text of Tess in book form, critics were both impressed at its brilliance and horrified at its unconventional moral stance. How could a murderess ever be a pure woman, many asked. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: THE PLOT In the Vale of Blackmoor in rural Wessex lives a teenage girl, Tess Durbeyfield, her six younger sisters and brothers, and her parents, John and Joan. One day John, coming home from work in his typical drunken manner, meets the local parson who tells him an amazing secret. It turns out that Mr. Durbeyfield is really the last descendant of one of the most ancient and powerful families of England, known as the d'Urbervilles. John, unlike his illustrious ancestors, is poor and powerless. Naturally he's determined to make this d'Urberville legacy pay off for him and his family. Triumphant, he swaggers home to the village of Marlott where he sees his sparkling daughter Tess dancing in the local club-walking festivities. There's another important male observer at this all-women dance--Angel Clare, a young man on a sightseeing tour with his brothers. He notices Tess but doesn't dance with her, which hurts her feelings. Mr. Durbeyfield is so carried away at the thought of being "Sir John" that he drinks all night, concocting grand plans to send young Tess to claim kin with an inferior, but still wealthy branch of the d'Urbervilles. He spends most of the night drinking, and the next morning is too hung over to take his produce to market. Tess, a very responsible young girl who knows her family's economic welfare is at stake, drives the goods to market herself. Unfortunately she's not used to controlling the horse, Prince, and she's also very sleepy, having had to drag her parents home from the local pub the night before. When she falls asleep, Prince runs into a passing mail wagon and dies. Prince's death makes Tess feel guilty, as if she were a murderess. She doesn't want to go begging to the d'Urbervilles, but her guilt over Prince's death and her family's dire economic need push her on. She comes to the d'Urberville estate at Trantridge and is taken in by Mrs. d'Urberville's sensual, manipulative son, Alec. It turns out that these d'Urbervilles are fakes--wealthy people named Stoke who simply took an unused title as their own. Innocent Tess has no idea that Alec isn't her cousin, which makes it easy for him to take advantage of her. He gives her a job tending his mother's chickens. Tess' folks mistakenly think this is a subtle way of bringing her into this well-to-do family. Actually it's a way for Alec to keep Tess under his wing. Finally one night in the old wood known as The Chase, he rapes her. For reasons that are unclear, Tess remains with Alec for a few weeks after the rape. She hates herself for staying with a man she can't love, though his attentions did dazzle her for a short time. Tess leaves without giving him a chance "to do the right thing" and marry her. Tess learns she's pregnant. She has the child, but it dies soon after birth. She never tells Alec about their baby until they meet again at Flintcomb-Ash. In mourning and disgrace at having a child out of wedlock (a heinous crime in Victorian England), Tess hires herself out as a dairymaid in the distant Var of Froom. Here she hopes to forget the past. And indeed, at Talbothays Dairy, amidst the green tracts of fertile, expansive farmland, Tess begins to recover from her trauma. When she meets Angel Clare, now a dairyman-in-training at Talbothays, she fears he'll recognize her and somehow cause the horrors of her past to surface. Angel, however, doesn't remember seeing her at Marlott on that club-walking day so long ago. He's a gentleman apprentice, and his eyes are on the future and the farm he hopes to start someday. The youngest son of a fanatical Evangelist preacher, Angel refused to become a clergyman because he believes in following the spirit of the Bible rather than the letter. Angel is a heretic and near-atheist who lives in dreams of a pagan, earthly paradise where humankind and nature form their own harmonious religion. Tess and Angel fall in love, but Tess refuses to marry Angel. She believes that because she isn't a virgin she'd be an unfit wife for such a wonderful man. Her romantic feelings are mirrored, often comically, by the three other dairymaids who share her bedroom, Izz Huett, Retty Priddle, and Marian. Tess keeps trying to interest Angel in the other girls whom she's sure are more worthy than herself. Finally Tess gives in and agrees to marry Angel. Several times before their wedding she tries to tell him about Alec and her dead baby, but either Angel won't listen or something happens to interrupt her confession. On their honeymoon night, the two lovers trade confessions. When Angel tells Tess of a brief affair he had, she forgives him. But when Tess tells of her affair with Alec, Angel refuses to forgive her, even though Tess' affair was far less deliberate than Angel's. Angel is a romantic idealist and is afraid that the innocent woman he married isn't the real Tess at all. Although Angel loves her, as evidenced in a sleepwalking scene in which he kisses her passionately and carries her in his arms, he's convinced that they must separate. Tess is heartbroken but bows to her husband's will. She returns to her parents. Angel goes off to Brazil, hoping that a foreign culture with different social mores will change his rigid attitudes. He hopes that someday he and Tess can live there together. Tess can't stand living with her family--she feels like a failure and a nuisance. Leaving them half the money Angel gave her, she sets off to work on a miserable farm called Flintcomb-Ash, which is as desolate and infertile as Talbothays was convivial and lush. Marian works there and Izz joins them. Tess finds out that her beloved Angel had propositioned Izz and nearly taken her to Brazil as his mistress. Izz, though willing to go, reminded him that no one could love him like Tess, and he retracted his offer. This knowledge convinces Tess that she must approach Angel's parents to try to win their moral support. She goes to visit them in Emminster but turns back after overhearing Angel's brothers and Mercy Chant, with whom Angel had his affair, gossiping about his unfortunate marriage to Tess. The narrator tells us it's a shame that Tess didn't see Angel's parents because they are good, compassionate people who would have sympathized with her and taken her in. Tearfully, she makes her way back to Flintcomb-Ash and meets Alec d'Urberville, now a fire-and-brimstone preacher. (Angel's father has converted that swaggering philanderer into a righteous man.) As soon as Alec sees Tess he forgets his high ideals and wants her back. This time he tries to combine duty and desire by asking her to marry him. Of course Tess refuses--she's already married to Angel. In addition she'd never consider marrying anyone she didn't love. Alec becomes obsessed with mastering Tess. He loves her in a very driven, sensual way that is very different from Angel's spiritual, unphysical devotion. However, Alec is willing to help Tess and her family, while Angel can't deal with such practical concerns. When Tess' parents become ill and her father dies, the Durbeyfields lose their lease and are out on the streets. Alec again tries to convince Tess to live with him. He promises to educate her beloved brothers and sisters and to protect her dear mother. Still Tess has the strength to refuse his proposition, thinking she'll find a way to support her family herself. The Durbeyfields set up camp at the ancient d'Urberville burial vaults at Kingsbere. Alec follows Tess here, and we feel that she's far too exhausted to resist much longer. She's written Angel a few pleading letters but has received no response. Meanwhile, Angel, who has been seriously ill in Brazil, realizes that people should be judged by their intent as well as by their deeds. He believes that Tess has always tried to do the right thing but that circumstances have conspired against her. Angel, having matured considerably in South America, returns home to forgive his deserted wife. He learns from Mrs. Durbeyfield that Tess is at Sandbourne, a luxurious sea resort. When he arrives he begs her forgiveness and asks her to come home with him. Tess is shocked to see Angel, for she had given up all hope of ever seeing him again and had accepted Alec's offer of protection. Tess tells Angel the truth and demands that he leave. He refuses. Driven by frustration and remorse, she murders Alec, whom she considers the source of all her unhappiness. Tess then runs after Angel, sure in her derangement that he'll forgive her now that she has eliminated the root of all their problems. Angel doesn't quite believe that sweet Tess could kill anyone, but he takes precautions and they flee. Angel and Tess celebrate their wedding and honeymoon in a deserted mansion. Within a few days they sense that their hiding place has been discovered and once again move on. Tess is fearless now. Though Angel is tender with her, she feels that their relationship could never withstand all that passed between them. She would be happy to die. Angel and Tess find themselves at Stonehenge, where pagan gods were worshipped, and Tess falls asleep on the sacrificial altar. The police find her sleeping there. When she awakes, they arrest her. Tess is tried for Alec's murder. Before she is hanged, she requests that Angel care for and marry her innocent younger sister 'Liza-Lu. Angel and 'Liza-Lu watch the hanging and then trudge off together, hand in hand. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: TESS DURBEYFIELD Few novels concentrate as completely on one character as does Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Hardy traces Tess' life from the age of sixteen until she dies in her early twenties. Tess is an unusual girl, full of contradictory emotions and actions. On the one hand she's feisty and independent; on the other she's shy and easily victimized. It's helpful to see her as a character caught between the old and new social orders, independence and dependence, spirituality and passion. Most readers are divided into two camps on Tess--they see her either as a victim (of fate, society, or her own sexuality) or as a heroic martyr, responsible for her own tragic fate. The best way to deal with such a complicated character is to try to see her in various lights. In his portrayal of Tess, Hardy begins with the melodramatic Victorian stereotype of the "innocent seduced"--a girl whose life is ruined by those less sensitive than herself. But Hardy takes his heroine beyond this popular Victorian type, by beginning rather than ending the book with her "fall" and dealing with her will to survive. Instead of committing suicide, Tess tries to go on living and loving, staying true to her intentions and feelings. Tess is overburdened with responsibilities for her family and her loved ones. Though very resilient, she blames herself harshly for innocent mistakes. She's affectionate, sensual, and bright, though poorly educated. Tess wants to better herself, not socially but as an individual. This is what attracts her to Angel Clare. She has many fears, probably because of her superstitious background. Although she tries to live an orderly, modern, life, she finds herself reverting to beliefs in fate and omens. When we compare her to Angel and Alec, she seems fresher, less inhibited, and even wiser. Unlike these men, she tries to combine thought and feeling. She is a daughter of the earth rather than of the intellect. Tess' character is a combination of her mother's fatalistic peasant beliefs and her father's ancient aristocratic heritage. From the d'Urbervilles she gets her socially rebellious, proud, and temperamental nature. Hardy credits Tess' peasant side for her ability to survive. Her worn-out aristocratic side seems to encourage lethargy and passivity. Sometimes Tess lets people victimize her; as her mother says, she's easy to manipulate. Tess is often described as a hunted animal. She's very beautiful and men are always pursuing her, either for purely sexual reasons or because she represents an excitingly unformed life waiting to be molded. People are always judging, pursuing, or rejecting her. Tess doesn't try to change people; she respects their dignity and lets them make their own choices, though she's there to help them in times of need. Tess' relationships with Angel and Alec are major focal points in the novel. Alec reflects her sensuality but she rejects his love because he has few aspirations and doesn't seem to care sincerely for people. Angel, her true love, is forever striving after the highest and best in life. However, he's too steeped in traditional values and philosophical abstractions to translate his dreams into reality. Angel calls Tess a heathen, and Alec treats her like one. Tess is religious, though not in a conventional way. She believes in being good and charitable but refuses to believe that God--if there is one--would care more about the letter than the spirit of the Bible. She takes tender care of the wounded animals left in her charge. Many readers ask whether Tess is the pure woman that Hardy insists she is. Although you'll have to decide that for yourself, you are given one unwavering picture of her--that of a lone woman trying, or at least willing, to do good regardless of the horrors and temptations thrust in her way. Tess also has an irrational, violent side that Hardy attributes to her ancient d'Urberville warrior heritage. It's this part of Tess that lashes out against Alec and eventually drives her to murder him. While Hardy blames her noble blood, we can see her fiery temper also as a primitive survival tool. Her subservient attitude with Angel is the complete opposite of her fury with Alec. Angel brings out not only her giving, sweet nature but also her lethargic, self-denigrating tendencies. Perhaps one of Tess' big mistakes is to let Angel's disappointment in her affect her so deeply; it nearly drives her insane. Why do you think she puts so much faith in a man who could turn on her so quickly? Tess is a tragic heroine; she's a lofty soul who is destined to suffer and die. From the start of the novel we sense that she's playing a losing game, though we can't help but hope for her each time she picks herself up from despair and moves bravely on. Most important, Tess is herself. She never tries to be more than she is. Tess always reminds Angel and Alec that she is a poor, simple dairymaid. She's not trying to become a grand lady. Tess' goals are to be happy and to make those she loves happy, to try to live a good and giving life in a difficult world. Do you think she succeeds? TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: ANGEL CLARE You can see Angel Clare as a hypocrite or as a man torn between moral conventions and his sensual attraction to the land and to a woman. In either case he tries to make everything, from Talbothays to Tess, a storybook dream so that he can avoid dealing with reality. Some readers find Angel an unconvincing character. After all, how could such a sensitive, reflective man turn brutally against his love because she fails to fit into a moral code he says he rejects? Other readers find nothing unusual about this contradiction in his nature. Don't many of us pay lip service to ideals that we just can't live up to? Throughout the novel Angel matures from a dreamy idealist to a realist with ideals. Yet even toward the end of the book, when Tess suggests he marry 'Liza-Lu after her own death, he balks at the idea, finding it socially unacceptable. However, he and 'Liza watch Tess' hanging and go off together hand in hand. Angel is a clergyman's son who has disappointed his family by failing to enter the ministry. Like Hardy he seems to have experienced a religious crisis that prevents him from believing in all the articles of the New Testament. Although it's not stated specifically, Angel seems to be an atheist. He doesn't believe in the supernatural, and so he follows human moral codes rather than those said to be "divine." Unlike Alec he doesn't take advantage of women, even though he has opportunities with the dairymaids at Talbothays. Our first impressions of Angel are very positive--he seems kind, honorable, bright, and open to new ideas. Later, after he rejects Tess and tries to proposition Izz Huett, we see him in a much less favorable light. We see that he shares some traits with--of all characters--Alec d'Urberville. Both men are self-centered and unstable. Think of how swiftly they change from one position to another. Angel goes from a loving husband to a man who criticizes and rejects his wife. Alec goes from philanderer to fanatical preacher and back to woman chaser. Many readers see Angel as Tess' means of escaping her rural background and encountering exciting new ideas and possibilities. Other readers believe that it is Angel rather than Alec who destroys her because he sets her up to love him and then suddenly rejects her. As you follow Angel's character throughout Tess, try to see how his various sides play against each other. His unswerving, logical mentality collides with his impassioned feelings toward Tess. His pagan idealism dashes with his conventional moral upbringing. He doesn't fit in with his fanatically religious family nor with the lower class farm folk at Talbothays. He says he hates old aristocratic families because they're decadent and worn out and yet he's overjoyed to learn that Tess is a d'Urberville. Angel isn't an unbelievable character but a highly complex one who learns to match his ideals with his practices. lec Stoke-d'Urberville, counterfeit cousin and real seducer of Tess, is probably the simplest of the novel's three major characters. He's straightforward with regard to what he wants and how he attains it. Even in his kindest moments it's clear that he's concerned only with himself. Alec is narcissistic (self-loving) and takes advantage of other people's weaknesses. Near the end of the novel he convinces Tess to be his mistress by promising to care for her destitute family. He is also capricious; look, for instance, at his sudden conversion to Evangelism and how quickly he abandons it once he's in love again with Tess. Many readers feel that though they can't forgive Alec for raping Tess, he's not a complete villain. They see him as a man driven by his senses, obsessively drawn to Tess, but not without sincere feelings for her. Even before he rapes her, he cannot win her attention, gratitude, or respect. He's used to dominating people because of his money and strong personality, but Tess seems impossible to share--like a pigeon in the park! Like Angel, Alec is at odds with nature. His modern home, The Slopes, is more like a plaything than a working farm, and he doesn't seem very comfortable with the natural life around him. Even the strawberries at The Slopes are "forced" to grow by man-made contrivances. While Alec is driven by his sensuality, it doesn't ultimately satisfy him. Many readers feel that Alec is an unsuccessful characterization. He's too temperamental to take seriously. As a villain he's typically melodramatic and even sports a handlebar mustache. These readers have trouble with his suddenly becoming an Evangelical preacher. Yet haven't you met people who were converted to a cause overnight? As Hardy points out, Alec's whole personality doesn't change, he just finds a new and different forum for his vehemence. He becomes a preacher out of boredom with life as a dandy and also perhaps as a reaction to the death of his mother. If we can't take Alec the preacher seriously, we are forced to take Alec the lover at his word. Even though he has done much harm to Tess, he does offer to marry her. When he learns she's already wed, he still wants to help her and her family. Alec admires Tess for not kowtowing to him; at the same time he wants to dominate her again. It seems that Alec doesn't know how to have an equitable relationship with anyone. Unlike Angel we see him interacting with almost no one but Tess. He's a stranger to the world, and Hardy's primary interest in him is in his temptation of Tess. When we compare him to Angel, who abandons Tess, we see that at least Alec is a pragmatist and believes in helping those he wants in his life. To some extent, Alec can be admired for his open sexuality. He's not a hypocrite like Angel who believes intellectually in liberal attitudes but in practice abhors them. Alec has no shame about sex, which to Hardy was a positive trait in someone living in the repressed Victorian age. Alec can be seen in two ways: as an agent of the devil who has come to tempt Tess or as a man driven out of his senses by a woman he can't forget. Is Alec a victimizer or a victim? He may own Tess' body, but she possesses his soul. ohn and Joan Durbeyfield, Tess' parents, are depicted as lazy, live-for-today farm folk who bear responsibility for their daughter's problems. Mr. Durbeyfield is often drunk and disorderly. His d'Urberville pride does him no good; it makes him feel too superior to work for a living and too proud to accept help. Tess can't have her baby baptized by the local preacher because her father is too ashamed of her and of the illegitimate child to let the minister in. Like so many characters in Tess, John is more concerned with reputation than with reality. Like her husband Joan Durbeyfield is basically a dreamer. Unlike him she was born of peasant stock and seems tougher, more hard working. Though she raises her children cheerfully, she doesn't hesitate to leave them with her eldest while she goes drinking with John at Rolliver's Inn. She has a fatalistic peasant philosophy and believes that whatever happens was meant to happen and can't be avoided or changed. This keeps her from being ambitious, guilt-ridden, and melancholy. Joan and John force Tess to take on responsibilities beyond her years. Their inability to provide security drives her to work for Alec and his mother, even though she feels it's a dangerous situation. Joan nearly sets up her naive daughter to be seduced. She dresses Tess for Alec, assuring her that a pretty face and figure will do more for her than her extinct d'Urberville title. Joan doesn't become angry when Tess returns unwed and pregnant. She just can't understand why Tess didn't take advantage of her rape to force Alec to marry her. Joan, unlike John Durbeyfield, is very pragmatic about the realities of life. She isn't as concerned about reputation as John is. Tess' superstitious nature comes from Joan, who consults a fortune-telling guide to decide Tess' future. Tess' parents act like irresponsible children. They aren't evil, but they don't seem to think about the consequences of their actions. As Tess says they've sent her out into the world with no knowledge of man; thus she's easy prey for people like Alec. On the other hand, Tess' instinct for survival also comes from her mother's vigorous peasant background. zz Huett, Retty Priddle, and Marian are Tess' friends at the dairy farm. We don't get to know them very well as individuals, but as a group they represent a chorus that reflects, comments on, and empathizes with Tess' love for Angel. They all are infatuated with Angel but know they'll never win him, as they're poor farm girls with no sophistication or education. They also believe, far more than Tess, that she is worthy of Angel. Izz Huett is the coolest and least talkative. Angel later asks her to go off to Brazil with him but retracts the offer when she speaks honestly and says that no one could love him more than Tess. Marian is duller but kinder; she drinks herself silly after Angel and Tess' wedding but is quick to help Tess find a job at Flintcomb-Ash after Angel abandons Tess. Retty, the youngest of the three, is hypersensitive and tries to kill herself when Angel marries Tess. After this we hear little about Retty. Izz and Marian want to reunite Angel with Tess. When they see her with Alec they write to Angel and warn him that he'd best return. Most important, these girls, who could easily be jealous and malicious, are compassionate and generous to Tess. Unlike most of the other characters they don't disparage her or use her for their own benefit. They are the finest, most charitable representations of country folk in the novel. They also bring comic relief to this very serious book particularly in their romanticizing over Angel. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: SETTING Tess takes place in rural southern England in an area called Wessex that roughly corresponds to present-day Dorset county. Wessex includes a variety of landscapes, from fertile valleys to arid limestone beds, bordered by heaths, sands, and the sea. The countryside is almost a character in Tess. Much of the time the settings reflect what's happening to Tess and the characters who influence her life. Marlott, her hometown, is as secure as a mother's womb. Talbothays, where she meets Angel, is fertile and expansive--the perfect place for growth and romance. Flintcomb-Ash, where she waits hopelessly for her husband to return, is an abject wasteland. Each station or place where Tess stops is a testing place for her soul. Hardy's Wessex is so varied that it can be seen as a microcosm of the world. Notice, however, that the novel excludes large urban centers, though their influence can certainly be seen in the market towns and railroad trains buzzing through the countryside. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: THEMES Here are major themes of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Some of these themes contradict one another; others are complementary. Consider each of these themes in depth, using the text to substantiate your ideas. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: A PORTRAIT OF TESS The novel is about Tess--her personality, trials, growth, and development. While many novels concern the interaction of characters, Tess of the D'Urbervilles concentrates almost single-mindedly on the life of its heroine. The other characters are important only insofar as they affect Tess' fate. Some readers see Tess as a detailed story of the psychology of an unchaste woman--how she deals with her own morality. Tess can also be viewed as the symbol of valiant challenge against both the rigid morality and religious dogma of the old order, and the skepticism of the modern world. Tess' story is that of a woman who tries to respond to the changing world around her with honesty and integrity. She can be viewed as an independent, active heroine who chooses martyrdom. She can also be seen as a victim either of society or of her own nature, who has no choice but to let herself be destroyed. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN Tess is an exploration of love and passion. Tess' relationships with Alec and Angel are as different as night and day. Alec is a man driven by his senses, while Angel focuses on his ideals and dreams. To Alec, Tess is an erotic object existing solely for his enjoyment. To Angel, Tess is the epitome of purity (at least until she confesses her "fall"). Tess herself combines Alec's sensual nature tempered by Angel's spirituality. She prefers, however, to live in a state of unerotic betrothal, in which the fantasy of romance is often more appealing to her than the more sexual aspects of love between a man and a woman. Hardy was disturbed by Victorian hypocrisy toward sex. Most people hid their sexual impulses, expected good women not to have any, and applied a double standard to the sexual practices of men and women. This standard condemns Tess for having premarital sex. Hardy explores sex as both a painful and a pleasurable experience. Tess' dairymaid friends writhe and weep over their impossible love for Angel, and Tess herself finally accepts his proposal because she can no longer bear the pain of saying no. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: THE OLD ORDER VERSUS THE NEW ORDER Many readers see Tess as a social novel in which the heroine represents the old agrarian order battling against the new industrial order. These readers focus on her relationship and irreconcilable conflict with Alec, who represents the new middle-class rulers of Britain. Men like Alec have much money and power, but unlike the old rulers (such as Tess' d'Urberville ancestors), their power comes not from the land but from industry. As a symbol of the new order Alec is depicted as estranged from nature, irresponsible, unfocused, and insensitive to those he rules. Tess, as a representative of the old agrarian order, is seen as warm, charitable, in harmony with the land, but also exhausted. We often see Tess at the mercy of machines, particularly the thresher at Flintcomb-Ash with its ghoulish engineer. Hardy actually traps his heroine between serving the incessantly moving thresher and falling off into Alec d'Urberville's waiting arms. When Tess and her family are driven from Marlott, they encounter hoards of other transient farm families forced to live a nomadic life under the new factory-like agricultural system. Uprooted from their stable lives they lose their sense of individuality and community tradition; they are treated worse than machines. As you read Tess try to decide if Hardy thinks that the new system is completely bad, or that the old one is completely good. You'll probably find that he's trying to honestly examine both systems to discover the best in both, in order to develop, as Angel Clare desires, a more ideal new system. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: A PORTRAIT OF NATURE Tess abounds in natural imagery. Few books are as lush with descriptions of natural life. To Hardy nature, like sexuality and society, has its good and bad points. Nature can be wonderful, as it is at Talbothays Dairy, where the land is fertile and life-renewing. It can also be harsh and grueling, as it is at Flintcomb-Ash Farm, where the soil is thoroughly inhospitable to growth. Notice how nature also reflects the characters' emotions and fortunes. For example, when Tess is happy, the sky is blue and birds sing. When events turn out badly the earth appears harsh and coldly indifferent to her agony. Nature is also depicted in the many journeys that take place in Tess. Both traveling and the rhythms of nature are seen as causing fatigue. You'll notice that as Tess nears the end of her life she doesn't want to move at all. At the same time the natural rhythms of growth and seasonal change are vital to earthly continuity. Hardy's belief in the constant movement of human feeling between pain and pleasure is also reflected in the seasonal nature of life. As you read Tess be aware that Tess' life begins and ends in the spring, that she falls in love during the fecund summer months, and that she marries, ominously, in the dead of winter. Even her story is divided into seven phases. Rather than calling these sections of the novel parts, Hardy uses the word phases to emphasize that Tess' life is part of a cycle that includes all of nature. Hardy's primary stance on nature is that it is the core of our existence; regardless of individual fates it can and must strive forward. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: PESSIMISM AND FATALISM Many readers think that Tess describes a world in which people are at the mercy of circumstances beyond their control. They point to the fact that, regardless of what Tess does, everything and everyone turns against her. These readers feel that Hardy is a pessimist--why else would he stand back from his story and comment on human and cosmic injustices toward the exceptional or innocent individual? Other readers say that Hardy is neither a pessimist nor a fatalist; he's simply angry at life's injustices and wants to make his readers look at them. They believe that Hardy champions the individual, who, like Tess, fights against convention and fate in order to follow her own path in life. Tess does seem to grow in spite of everything, thereby affirming human potential in an often inhospitable universe. Hardy doesn't give us nearly as positive a view of Tess' parents, who are typical rural fatalists, accepting everything that happens as "it was meant to be." It's Tess who, because she takes action and fights, saves her family from destruction. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: FORM AND STRUCTURE Although Tess is a novel, a piece of fiction written in prose, we can also look at it as a poem. As a poem, it is built on images, in a series of intricately related sensual visions. These rhythmic, sense-oriented impressions affect us on a deep, almost subconscious level, thus determining much of how we feel about the characters and the story. Many readers see the influence of age-old ballads in Tess and point to the novel's musicality and coincidental and irrational occurrences. In ballads fate often is a very strong determinant of what happens to people, and doom is their almost certain end. Like Tess, the characters of ballads are heroic because they fight against evil and injustice to the bitter end. This emphasizes the belief that although life may not be fair or totally comprehensible, human attempts to battle for what is right are important and noble. Tess is also one of the few tragic novels in the Victorian fictional tradition. A tragic novel is one in which a noble character is pitted against unfavorable fates and fights for her ideals against a world that is primarily beyond her control. The most unusual thing about the structure of Tess is the way in which Hardy uses many narrative techniques. He uses balladry and folk tales one moment, and realism the next, sprinkling in weepy melodrama, poetry, dogmatic philosophizing, and classical Greek tragedy. As you read Tess, notice how sharply these different approaches collide. One moment Hardy brings us a close-up shot of insects and plants to teach us a parallel lesson on humankind and nature; the next moment he gives us a panoramic view of how a dairy farm operates. Yet we never feel that Tess is a hodgepodge of styles and sensations; it is a richly interwoven story of all humanity and the miraculous enormity of life. Hardy divided Tess into seven large sections called phases. He then subdivided these phases into 59 chapters. It's interesting that Hardy chose the word phase to describe each of these sections. It seems to symbolize that Tess, like a plant, an animal, or the moon, goes through natural cycles of growth. The phases mark the major points of her emotional and spiritual growth, starting with "The Maiden" and ending with "Fulfilment." The titles of these phases will probably remind you of soap opera-type notions of sin and virtue. Hardy uses melodrama as a jumping-off point for a much deeper and less conventional analysis of true morality. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: POINT OF VIEW Tess is written from an omniscient (all-knowing) narrator's point of view. Sometimes the narrator reflects what the characters--particularly Angel and Tess--are thinking, feeling, or experiencing. Other times the narrator shows us aspects of their personalities or situations of which they aren't yet fully aware. Many times Hardy takes us away from the immediate story of the novel in order to make philosophical comments on how his characters' situations illustrate far-reaching problems affecting society, religion, nature, or the universe. The tone of these philosophical sections is very different from that of the rest of the book, where poetry and storytelling share a visual beauty. Many readers have found Hardy's asides interruptive and distracting from the meat of the novel--as if he were afraid that the story couldn't be trusted to make his moral points for him. Other readers find these philosophical tracts necessary to take the novel beyond the confines of melodrama or balladry in which a pure woman falls from virtue and is condemned. They feel that Hardy's asides force the reader to deal with far-reaching social and cosmological considerations. Hardy's poetic voice is his most enchanting and hypnotic. He describes landscapes as if they were metaphors for human experience. This poetic voice pulls us away from the story just as Hardy's philosophizing does, but it also makes us feel rather than think about all the pleasure and pain of life. ave you ever wondered about your family's origins? Do you have a rich or famous ancestor--someone you found out about by chance when his or her name came up in a conversation? Learning about that person might fill you with pride and even change the way you think about yourself and what you think you might accomplish someday. The discovery of noble ancestry is precisely what happens to Tess Durbeyfield and her family. The opening chapter introduces the family history and compares the wealth and nobility of the Durbeyfields' ancestors to their own poverty and country ways. The Durbeyfields' discovery of their titled past sparks a series of unrealistic expectations and brutal experiences that will in many ways form the social basis for Tess' tragedy. We meet Tess' father John, a drunken and decrepit chicken trader, on his way home to the village of Marlott. The local parson takes John aside and informs him that he is really "Sir" John, the last living heir to the illustrious d'Urberville title, long thought extinct. How odd it seems to us that someone as tattered and illiterate as John is descended from one of Britain's oldest and most powerful families! John's main concern is whether or not he can realize monetary gain from this nobility. To him it's an empty honor if he can't use it to improve his family's condition. Quoting the Bible, the parson admonishes John to put the knowledge of his grand heritage to more spiritual uses: "Chasten yourself with the thought of how the mighty are fallen." How many of us would take such a grim lesson from such an exciting discovery? John is bursting with pride and, like a rich lord, orders a local boy to do his bidding. The boy shrewdly plays dumb, at least until "Sir" John tips him. Hardy tells us that in this world money holds more power than does ancient glory. The parson tells John that many poor farmers are descended from once-rich, titled families, implying to us that fortunes often change with the times. NOTE: To many readers, John and, as we'll see later, the rest of his family represent the decay of agrarian England. In this farming culture, status was determined less by money and more by land ownership, family background, and hereditary privilege. After the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th century, technological advancement and the subsequent growth of cities and factories spelled doom for the old rural order. The new "Kings of Commerce" of 19th-century Victorian England (the setting of Tess' story) owed their position to manufacturing and money. This new order disrupted the old ways. People were forced to move often; family stability and the sense of belonging to a community and adhering to its rules and traditions began to disintegrate. Industrialization also damaged much of England's fertile land. To Hardy the destruction of nature was the destruction of man's most essential tie to life. In many ways the isolation and alienation that many people feel in our present technologically advanced era had their beginnings in the industrial age that Hardy depicts in Tess. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 2 Hardy put history into perspective in Chapter 1. Now he switches to a more immediate and intimate account of Tess' hometown, Marlott, and of its natural beauty and plain folk, with their ancient customs. Marlott is secluded in the Vale of Blackmoor. Its landscape protects it from the teeming urban industrial centers sprouting all over England. In many ways Marlott's sheltered innocence reflects that of sixteen-year-old Tess. NOTE: It is helpful while reading Tess to compare and contrast Hardy's landscape descriptions with the actions and thoughts of the characters who move through them. Hardy often uses environmental descriptions rather than psychological ones to tell us things about his characters. The women and girls of Marlott are celebrating Club-walking Day, an ancient ritual for women only. Hardy tells us that like so many of us who observe holidays, these women don't know the meaning of their ritual. Club-walking was originally the May Day Dance, a pagan celebration of spring and fertility. Adolescent Tess, like spring itself, is about to enter her own fertile season. NOTE: There are many primitive symbols in Tess, such as the club-walking dance and later Stonehenge, that show us how important a role instinctive, primitive drives play (often unconsciously) in our everyday lives. Tess is among the white-robed club-walkers, but Hardy makes little of her at first. She is pretty but not extraordinary looking and has a strong sense of family pride. She staunchly defends her tipsy father against her fellow walkers' jibes. Hardy initially downplays Tess' individuality in order to make us see her as a cog in the larger wheel of society, nature, and the universe. While this approach reveals the insignificance and helplessness of the individual, it also forces us to see her as an archetype (a magnified representative) of her social class, of womanhood, of the pulsating force of life itself. Angel Clare, the man Tess will later come to love, appears briefly in this scene as a bystander watching the festivities. As the novel progresses and you get to know Angel better, ponder the way his name not only reflects his character but comments ironically on his personality. NOTE: As we shall see, Angel is a very spiritual man, truly concerned with other peoples' feelings and welfare. Notice, too, that in Chapter 20 he plays the harp, an instrument whose heavenly music is associated with angels. On the other hand, does Angel have the charitable, forgiving nature generally considered angelic? Some readers believe that Angel, with all his virtues, is more responsible for Tess' downfall than her self-seeking seducer, Alec d'Urberville. Couldn't Hardy also be using the name "Angel" to signify an avenging angel as well as an angel of mercy? In this chapter Angel appears as a clergyman's son on a sight-seeing tour of Tess' valley. Tess is impressed with his refinement and education. Did you ever meet someone who was so wonderfully different from all the people you knew that you nearly fell in love on the spot? This is what seems to happen to Tess without her fully knowing it. As we shall later see more clearly, Tess, like a plant that has outgrown its pot, gropes for more and better space in which to grow. Still Angel is certainly not yet a shining prince. He's a gawky teenage boy who momentarily joins in the dancing but doesn't pick Tess to be his partner. Later on, after Tess and Angel do fall in love, she'll chide him for not dancing with her at this festivity--as if that would have changed her life. NOTE: Haven't you dreamed of how your life might have turned out differently if a particular event had happened? Isn't such a "what if" game generally useless and painful? Throughout Tess Hardy seems to be telling us that while it is good to have high expectations, we must accept what happens in our lives, learn from our mistakes or tragedies, and move on. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 3 We all become infatuated with people. Sometimes we're smitten by someone we've only seen once. This happens to Tess after her brief glimpse of Angel Clare. As time goes on Tess' crush deepens and Angel becomes a very important memory. On the other hand Angel basically forgets Tess and goes on with his busy life. The different ways in which they remember each other is very important to our understanding of their characters. As we shall see, Angel is often self-absorbed and preoccupied by many worldly opportunities and adventures. Tess, however, demonstrates an unusually fixed loyalty to those she cares for. Also, as a Victorian woman, her horizons are limited to either marriage and motherhood, or a few unskilled jobs. Perhaps this lack of opportunity, a result of her womanhood, her social class, and her lack of education, makes her think and dream as much about someone else's life as about her own. Tess returns from the club-walking festivities to her dreary home, where we meet her cheerful but overworked mother, Joan. Unlike her husband Joan is descended from peasant stock. From her, Tess inherits her physical beauty and resilient spirit. Joan ecstatically informs Tess of her d'Urberville heritage. Unlike her mother Tess sees this nobility as yet another pipe dream, and busies herself with the practical problems of the household. This shows us how realistic Tess is despite her dreaminess over Angel Clare. She has practical aims, high ambitions, and the endurance to help make her dreams a reality. Unfortunately for Tess, as we shall see, as a poor girl her opportunities are so limited that she has to depend on other peoples' whims in order to make any progress in life. This situation will surely play a part in her becoming a victim rather than a success. Joan leaves Tess to watch over the younger children while she goes to fetch (or perhaps join) Mr. Durbeyfield at the local tavern. Joan, a superstitious woman, reminds Tess to put their fortune-telling book in the outhouse, for leaving it in with the family overnight could spell trouble. Tess obeys her mother but because she is a more modern girl with some education she refuses to believe in black magic. Haven't you ever found yourself thinking you knew more than your parents, having more education, and even a more worldly understanding of life than they? At the same time, however, you may rely on their knowledge, experience, and ideas, even when you know they're wrong. Many times Tess will ridicule signs and omens, yet she becomes so fearful of new experiences that in the end she leans on superstition. Keep this in mind throughout the novel, particularly in terms of Tess' reaction to omens related to her marriage to Angel Clare. NOTE: Tess is at the crossroads of her life and times. She's a teenage girl about to become a woman. As an archetype, or representative of her social class, she's a mixture of nobility and working class. As a representative of her historical time she straddles the worlds of agrarian England, with its folklore, superstition, and fatalism, and the modern industrial world, with its scientific orderliness and religious pessimism. When neither her parents nor the brother she's sent to find them returns from the inn, Tess locks the other children securely in the house and goes after them herself. There's quite a role reversal here between Tess, who seems to manage all the practical details of the household, and her parents, who are off drinking and dreaming! TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 4 This chapter begins at Rolliver's Inn, before Tess arrives to get her parents. Rolliver's is an off-premises bar, which means that the illegal drinking is done in Mrs. Rolliver's bedroom. Notice how Hardy describes this chamber--full of exotic richness, diffused with a narcotic fog. This heady atmosphere undermines Joan's fevered plan to send Tess to claim kin with a wealthy, distant branch of the d'Urbervilles. As the night rolls on and the alcohol flows, Joan has already mentally married Tess off to a nobleman. NOTE: Tess' parents seem similar to irresponsible children living in a dream world. Don't you think it's rather frightening that while Joan makes all these plans she never thinks to ask Tess how she'll feel about carrying them out? Joan is certain that Tess will agree to the idea: "Tess is queer," she says, "but she's tractable [easily led or controlled] at bottom." Think about this statement as you consider many of the choices that Tess makes against both her own better judgment and the callings of her heart. Remember, too, that Tess is a Victorian girl who has been brought up to please and serve, even sacrifice, to the desires of others. Tess discovers her parents at the inn and helps them home. Realizing that her father cannot drive the bee hives (that they sell) to market, she volunteers to do it. She's sleepy and inexperienced, however, and her horse, Prince, runs into another cart and is mortally wounded. This is tragic because the Durbeyfields need a horse in order to carry on their trading business. They don't have the money to purchase a new one. Tess tries to stop the flow of Prince's blood with her hand but to no avail. She turns pale, almost white, which symbolizes not only her shock but her innate purity. "The huge pool of blood in front of her was already assuming the iridescence of coagulation; and when the sun rose a hundred prismatic hues were reflected from it." NOTE: As you can guess from the above quotation, blood symbolizes not only death but "a hundred prismatic hues" of existence. As Tess continues her journey we shall see that these "hues" include a series of opposites: life and death, violence and tender love, fertility and destruction. You've probably heard the expression "you can only hate someone you love." The closeness of opposites such as love and hate, or life and death, are very important to Hardy. For this reason the color red and the image of blood can represent things and emotions that initially appear worlds apart. Remember the image of Prince's blood when you read about the discovery of Alec's death in Chapter 56. Also notice that certain farm machines that threaten the agrarian way of life are painted red, as is the mansion of Alec d'Urberville. Blood-red can also be a positive image in Hardy's world: Tess' health and vitality are reflected in her ruddy cheeks, and the sun, so necessary to life, is often described as red. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 5 Tess, convinced she has murdered Prince, feels responsible for her family's subsequent lack of livelihood and therefore complies with Joan's wish that she go in search of their rich relations. Why do you think Tess feels so much guilt and responsibility for an accident? Hardy never really tells us; he implies that her bad feelings about herself are for the most part unfounded. Degrading yourself is a rather common thing, however, particularly when you set high expectations and ambitions for yourself and haven't yet reached your goals. Tess seems older than her years in her willingness to accept adult responsibilities, but she's also very naive and inexperienced. Tess is, perhaps, a striking example of someone forced to grow up too quickly. Do you remember how you felt on your first trip away from home by yourself? You were probably very excited and more than a little nervous, perhaps even scared. This is how Tess feels on her trip to Trantridge in quest of her rich relations. When Tess arrives at the manor house her first reaction is that it's strange that such an ancient family has a new and modern home. The farmlands appear to be kept more for show than for income. The new industrial world seems to be creeping into the countryside. In contrast to this newness is the mysterious primeval forest known as The Chase, which encompasses the d'Urberville estate like an unshakeable shroud. The Chase is so old that it puts Tess' venerable ancestry to shame. In Hardy's world nothing is as old or as essential as nature. The Chase will play an important part in Tess' trials, as we shall see in Chapter 11. The story reveals that these d'Urbervilles are actually frauds--a family of successful merchants named Stoke who discovered the unused d'Urberville title and claimed it in order to enhance their monied respectability with an ancient revered name. NOTE: It's to Tess' credit that she notices how inappropriate this modern estate seems for people with such a supposedly ancient background. You'll notice throughout the novel that often Tess intuitively divines things that she can't explain or logically act upon. Of course Tess is ignorant of the fact that these d'Urbervilles are frauds and consequently have no familial responsibility to her. When she meets Alec Stoke-d'Urberville she assumes that he's her cousin and therefore treats him with a certain informality that he takes advantage of. Although Alec promises to make "cousin" Tess' presence known to his mother, he does nothing of the kind. Keeping Tess' presence secret, he fills her mouth with strawberries and her basket with roses. "She obeyed like one in a dream." Why does the shy Tess submit, though somewhat reluctantly, to such intimacies? Although Hardy never tells us explicitly he suggests many reasons. First Tess believes that Alec is her cousin and that kin are more likely to protect than harm her. Hardy also shows us how completely awed Tess is by the unfamiliar richness of her new surroundings. She seems assaulted by sensations, not the least of which are Alec's passionate advances. Tess is probably caught in such a whirlwind of impressions that, as Joan pointed out in Chapter 3, she follows where she's led. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTERS 6 AND 7 While Tess rides back home to Marlott one of the roses Alec gave her pricks her breast, causing it to bleed. Keep this sexual image in mind as a foreshadowing of her seduction in Chapter 11. The Durbeyfields receive a letter from Mrs. Stoke-d'Urberville offering Tess a job. Tess notices that the handwriting is suspiciously masculine. Her parents are convinced that she will eventually marry "cousin" Alec. Tess doesn't tell her parents her suspicions and fears because of several factors that tend to paralyze her. She's feeling enormous guilt over the death of Prince and doesn't want to fail her family again. It's also possible that, like many teenagers, Tess would like to start living her own life. Hardy's refusal to give us a clear-cut explanation of Tess' motivation reflects the idea that Tess herself is unsure and still developing her mind and personality. In Chapter 7 Tess goes off to work for the d'Urbervilles at Trantridge. Much to Tess' chagrin, her mother dresses her up as though she were going to a prom rather than to a job. Joan seems to share some responsibility for Tess' seduction, at least in Hardy's mind. Joan admits that Tess' chances with Alec have more to do with her uncommon beauty than her noble title. Mr. Durbeyfield, like his daughter, has some doubts about the whole situation. These doubts seem to have less to do with Tess' welfare than with the humiliation of belonging to an inferior branch of the family. Tess had planned to go to Trantridge in the hired wagon, but Alec arrives suddenly and insists on taking her himself. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 8 Alec takes Tess on a "roller-coaster" carriage ride simply to force her to hold onto his waist. What a manipulative and violent way to woo someone! NOTE: Consider Tess' journey with Alec to her strange new home. Hardy may be using this perilous ride to emphasize the danger of her relationship with Alec. The ride could also be a metaphor for the veering, uncontrollable quality of a young person's first experience of intense passion. We don't get a very favorable impression of Alec because he laughs at Tess' fear of his driving too fast and cruelly rebukes her for being a proper little lady. Alec may be sensual and handsome, but he's not at all sensitive to human feeling. Finally Tess escapes from the wagon on the pretense of fetching her bonnet. She's determined to walk to Trantridge rather than play Alec's game. She even considers going home, but feels that it's too immature an idea, given her family's dire straits. Alec seems aroused by Tess' feisty temper. He soon takes another tack, courting her gently and at a distance, trying to regain her trust. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 9 Tess' new job is that of "supervisor, nurse, surgeon, and friend" to Mrs. d'Urberville's beloved chickens. The old woman is eccentric and makes Tess bring her chickens to the manor house for daily inspections. When she learns that Mrs. d'Urberville is blind, Tess is convinced that Alec is responsible for getting her this job and for writing to her parents. She even thinks it's possible that the old woman doesn't know that Tess is kin. Again, why doesn't Tess speak up? There are many possible reasons: Shyness, lack of confidence, fear, passivity--Tess has a certain measure of all these traits. It's also possible that there are situational reasons for Tess' silence. Hardy tells us: "Almost before her misgiving at the news [Mrs. d's blindness] could find time to shape itself," she's prodded along to the manor house. Many times in Tess, action overpowers reflection because characters don't have time to think before they act. Mrs. d'Urberville demands that Tess (often described as a trapped bird) learn to whistle so she can train the Lady's bullfinches to sing. Tess practices to no avail until Alec teaches her how to purse her lips. Frightened that she'll lose her job, she lets him instruct her in an art that resembles kissing. He seems kinder to Tess now, and she begins to trust him a little. However, it is less a matter of free-willed trust than the fact that Tess, like Mrs. d'Urberville's birds, is dependent upon her keepers. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 10 From an intimate portrait of Tess' life on the d'Urberville estate, Hardy moves in this chapter into the vast panorama of the environment that surrounds and influences Tess. The Trantridge community drinks "hard" and its women are sexually uninhibited. Tess is unused to such a morally loose atmosphere. However, peer pressure and her own loneliness finally cause her to join the cottagers on their weekend outings to town. On one journey she finds her friends staying out very late and is forced to wait up so she'll have someone to accompany her home. The drunken farm folk are dancing a wild jig in a barn, enveloped in a dusty fog of hay and human sweat, like a "vegeto-human pollen." NOTE: This "vegeto-human pollen" is one of Hardy's many fog images, representing a clouding over of human perceptions. Think back to the intoxicating haze in Rolliver's tavern that clouded the judgment of Tess' parents. In this chapter the "fog" is caused by a mixture of sexuality and drunkenness. Think about the many different things that "fogs" do to people when you read about Tess' seduction in the foggy Chase. While it's true that fog makes it difficult for people to see clearly, it can create a beautiful image, too. One of the reasons that Tess will seem so ethereal to Angel later at Talbothays Dairy is because of the early morning fog that envelops her. Aren't strong feelings such as love and passion very much like fogs? Her friends dance erotically while Tess sleepily looks on. Soon we find someone else watching Tess and the festivities--Alec d'Urberville. He offers the tired girl a ride home, but Tess prefers to wait for her fellow workers. As they trudge back home, Car Darch, one of Alec's ex-girlfriends, becomes the butt of a harmless joke. When Tess joins in the laughter, the jealous Car jumps her like a wounded cat. When the other women also attack Tess, Alec appears "miraculously" and again offers her a ride. You've probably done things or gone out with people against your best instincts. Tess goes with Alec because her person and pride are severely threatened by Car and her friends. "Out of the frying pan and into the fire," cries Car's wise mother, letting us know that there's trouble ahead for Tess. Tess can be seen in two ways: as either a victim of circumstance or a victim of her own pride. After all, she could have stayed with her fellow workers and fought on their terms. But the fight would have been unfair and Tess, who is unused to violence, doesn't deserve to be beaten up for laughing, especially when everyone else was laughing, too. Can we really blame her for accepting Alec's offer? TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 11 Tess is so exhausted on her ride home with Alec that she doesn't even notice when he veers from the path. Suddenly she finds herself in an unfamiliar place called The Chase. Notice that the name of this primitive wood is related to hunting. Alec is hunting Tess. What could be more perfect than to have it happen in an age-old place where nature and sexual instinct reign? If you take a careful look at the dialogue between Alec and Tess and at the way in which he says he loves her, you may see that Alec is not the stereotypic villain-seducer who cares nothing for his victim. If there were not an emotional turmoil churning inside Alec, would Hardy have depicted him as lost and disoriented in The Chase? Alec and Tess are both disoriented in this pagan place. Alec leaves her to rest while he goes to find out where they are. When he returns to her, she's surrounded by a fog so dense he can see nothing but a "white muslin figure he had left upon the dead leaves." This is the second time Tess has fallen asleep at a crucial time. (She also dozed off when driving Prince). Although she is strong and tenacious, Tess often loses control at the very moment she needs it most. NOTE: Why do you think Tess' sleeping body is depicted as white and filmy as muslin? White, of course, is the color of purity, virginity, and innocence. This makes Alec's taking advantage of Tess even more horrible. But white also has a sickly connotation. It's the color of ghosts, unhealthiness, and sometimes, death. Hardy plays with the image of whiteness throughout Tess, working with these two opposing connotations. He does this in order to emphasize that too much spirituality makes it impossible to live a full human existence. Throughout the novel, Tess tries to balance spiritual purity with healthy, sexual purity. Does Tess respond to Alec's advances? Is she seduced or raped? Hardy doesn't make this clear, probably because the central issue is not Tess' deflowering but the trials that result from it. Hardy is also interested in exploring the tragedy of mismatched couples: "Why so often the coarse appropriates the finer thus, the wrong man the woman, the wrong woman the man...?" The chapter closes with the fatalistic but soothing country folk maxim: "It was to be." But it's doubtful that Tess, with her modern, standard education, her ancient lineal pride, and her belief that people are responsible for their destinies, could ever find comfort in such a creed. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 12 Did you ever find yourself trudging home to your family after a terrible incident, not knowing what you'll say or do, and feeling as if your whole life has suddenly changed? This is Tess' state as she heads back to Marlott, weighted down with a heavy basket. The basket, like many objects in Tess, has a symbolic meaning. It tells us how Tess feels about her life. Like the basket, she's laden down with "baggage": emotionally, she is weighted down with guilt, shame, and failure; physically, she is carrying Alec's child in her womb. Alec whizzes by in his rig and tries to persuade Tess not to go. In the past few weeks he's made her aware that he's not a real d'Urberville. He doesn't know she's pregnant but offers her his protection and financial help, anyway. Perhaps he really does care about her; maybe he just wants her to continue to sleep with him. Tess refuses Alec's proposal because she doesn't love him. She says: "If I had ever sincerely loved you... I should not be so loathe and hate myself for my weakness as I do now." Tess is too noble to simply kneel to accepted morality. She doesn't leave Alec because of fear of what people might say. She leaves because to her sex and love go hand-in-hand and form a religion that she can't, in good conscience, go against. Tess refuses to lower her ideals either to advance herself socially and economically, or to legitimize her sexual relationship with Alec. Tess is rather brave to choose to go home, jobless and pregnant, rather than remain at Trantridge as Alec's well-heeled mistress. Her mother is angry that Tess didn't get Alec to marry her--any other woman would have, she says. Joan doesn't care that Tess is unwed and pregnant--that wasn't unusual for peasant folk. She's angry that Tess hadn't the sense to take advantage of the situation. Joan's despair soon fades and like most farm folk, she gives in to fate and accepts the fact that Tess succumbed to the inevitable calling of her sexual nature. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTERS 13, 14, AND 15 In two short chapters Hardy deals with Tess' pregnancy and the birth and death of her baby, Sorrow. How short is this traumatic part of Tess' life! But haven't you ever noticed that the intensity of an experience is more important than its duration? Tess' seduction by Alec and her subsequent pregnancy will tragically affect the rest of her life. Somehow, given the passionate, forward-moving rhythms of nature, the social stain on Tess' entire existence seems brutally unjust. Hardy condemns his society for deciding that certain natural functions, like sex, are horrible crimes when committed outside the sanction of matrimony. NOTE: Hardy was very far ahead of his time in questioning prevailing attitudes toward sex, religion, and morality--attitudes that left no room for individual exceptions. Even in our sexually liberated era, how often have you heard people talking critically about women who have chosen to have children without getting married? In Hardy's time both the disgrace and the sanctions against a woman like Tess were a thousand times more severe. Hardy himself seems to believe in the naturalness and purity of Tess' unwed motherhood. In Chapter 14 he shows her hard at work in the fields, still tenderly suckling her baby. Here she seems to be a woman in complete balance with the earth and motherhood. In the fields the other farm folk don't appear to hold anything against Tess, though they stare at her in church, the social institution of morality. Tess is torn between her natural, motherly instincts and her religious and moral guilt over having given birth to an illegitimate child. She alternately holds her baby at a cool distance and smothers it with kisses. While Tess is enduring this agony--to love one's child but hate the circumstances of its conception is confusing--the narrative reminds us that in the scope of nature Tess is just a speck on the landscape: "She was not an existence--an experience, a passion, a structure of sensations, to anybody but herself." This experience is common to all of us when we find ourselves obsessed with our own problems, only to realize that no one else is paying us much attention. Tess' baby becomes ill and is certain to die. Tess is overwrought that the child is unbaptized and therefore, according to church law, will find no home in heaven. Because her father refuses to let the preacher into the house, Tess ceremoniously baptizes the innocent child herself. Some of you will want to argue that a truly religious ceremony is one in which the heart and soul are sincere and pure. But to the society in which Tess lives, this baptism is blasphemy. Although the local parson shows his humanity by assuring her that she has saved her baby from Hell, he won't officiate at Sorrow's funeral simply because Tess' father insulted him by not letting him baptize the baby. The parson seems more concerned with saving face than with tending to Sorrow's soul. Because the parson will not officiate at the funeral service, poor, innocent Sorrow must be buried with suicides, criminals, and other social outcasts. The fate of this helpless baby may make you join with Hardy in questioning a society and a religion that treat a baby as if he were an evil individual. Such lack of sympathy makes us look critically at institutions that profess to be for human good but that have little to do with human needs or feelings. When we experience the loss of a loved one, as Tess does with the death of Sorrow, the world looks different to us. Overnight, we change. Suddenly Tess finds herself not a child but a woman, aware of the fleetingness of physical charms, the transience of life, and the inevitability of death. To dwell constantly on such thoughts makes it impossible to go on with life. Remember that Tess is still in her teens, brimming with life. To keep living means to keep hoping. Tess escapes Marlott and all its memories, and takes a job as a milkmaid at Talbothays Dairy in the distant Vale of Froom. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 16 Chapter 16 finds Tess surveying this new, unknown place as well as her own future, from the top of a hill. The Vale of Froom is also known as the Valley of the Big Dairies, in contrast to the Vale of Blackmoor, which is nicknamed the Vale of Small Dairies. Think of the contrasts implied in naming one region "small" and the other "big." Small, swampy Blackmoor Vale, the place where Tess was born and raised, is always described in narrow, confining terms. The "big" Vale of Froom, as we shall see, is more fertile than Blackmoor, more expansive, and more a part of the larger world. This name "big" suggests a place where Tess can grow up, test herself, and perhaps realize some of her hopes and dreams. Although we can never escape our past, as Tess will soon realize, we can leave our homes and parents and begin to use our own experiences to grow into strong, responsible individuals. While the Vale of Froom gives Tess an invigorating shot of new life, it is also near the old d'Urberville estates and their grand burial vaults at Kingsbere Church. Hardy makes this connection of past (Kingsbere) and present (Talbothays) to show us that present and past, like man and nature, are and must be interrelated in our complex, ever-changing world. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 17 Tess descends from the hilltop overlooking the Vale of Froom and enters the palpable rhythms of life at Talbothays Dairy. Mr. Crick, the chief dairyman, makes her feel comfortable in this buzzing farm community. How different this cheery, family-like enterprise is from Tess' isolated employment with the Stoke-d'Urbervilles, where her job as fowl mistress was limited to caring for a rich lady's pets! Talbothays has a much more important purpose--it supplies milk to countless people all over England. This gives Tess a feeling that she is doing something more important than indulging a wealthy lady's whims. Think about the warmth, fertility, and generosity that practically ooze from Talbothays. Compare this later on to the farm at Flintcomb-Ash, where there's no community spirit, little fertility, and much dehumanizing industrialization. Flintcomb-Ash and the Stoke-d'Urbervilles' showplace farm both symbolize the modern age with its coldness, selfishness, and inhumanity. Talbothays, where Tess' "rallying" of spirit takes place, is an emblem of man and nature working together for the good of all. NOTE: An ominous note rings when Tess alights at Talbothays. Suddenly the cows give less milk. The dairymen rationalize that the coming of a new hand, like Tess, always makes the cows nervous. Remember this bad omen as the novel progresses and more bad "signs" appear. You'll see that many of these omens actually foreshadow Tess' crises. Hardy uses omens and signs to show us that there is much more to life than cold, hard facts. Much of existence is a rare miracle that can't be explained scientifically. On the other hand, Tess causes many of her own problems by being superstitious. Notice later on how she avoids seeing Angel's parents and getting their help because she has overheard his brothers' talking about her and considers it a bad omen. Tess is shocked to see the young man she had so desperately wanted to dance with on that distant Club-walking Day. She learns that his name is Angel Clare. Though he's working among dairymen, he's of a higher social class. He's an outsider to this culture, learning its craft so he can start his own farm, perhaps in the Colonies. Tess is very curious about him but also afraid that because he saw her once at Marlott he'll somehow publicize her past and make her lose her new, safe haven. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 18 This chapter introduces Tess to Angel Clare, the man she will come to love. The narrative gives us a "sneak" preview of his background and character, so we know more about him than does Tess. Like Tess, Angel's eyes are dreamy, as if he were forever dreaming of a wonderful future for himself and for the rest of mankind. Angel, though older than Tess, is even less certain than she as to how to fulfill his fantasies. He prefers to live with his thoughts of pagan nature worship and anti-church skepticism, than to tackle daily existence. More socially privileged than Tess, he has never had to struggle to survive. But like Tess he doesn't quite belong at Talbothays. Both are strangers in this region and both come from higher classes than the farmers they are living among. At Talbothays both Tess and Angel find themselves recovering from their tumultuous pasts. Perhaps a sense of having both suffered helps bring them together. Angel first notices Tess at the breakfast table. It's clear he doesn't remember her from the club-walking dance. He sees her as an ideal, not a person, which will haunt their relationship for a long time. Angel calls her "a fresh and virginal daughter of nature." It's true that Tess is pure in the spiritual sense, but in the social Victorian context she is impure because she's not a virgin. Angel, of course, doesn't know this, but when he finds out it will color his perception of her purity. NOTE: As you read through Tess, consider the subtitle of Tess of the D'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman. It's probable that Hardy wants to tell us that purity is far more a matter of one's intent than of one's actions. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 19 Angel and Tess finally have their first conversation. Tess discovers that Angel has been trying to please her and get her attention by arranging the cows so that she always milks the easiest one. Using his act of favoritism as an excuse to talk to him, Tess blushingly confronts Angel with the fact that his behavior is against the dairy's fairness policy. If you've ever spoken to someone you cared for and were so nervous that everything you said sounded stupid, you'll know exactly how Tess feels about her tongue-tied conversation with Angel. Later that day she hears him playing his harp and, "like a fascinated bird," she tramps through an overgrown garden to listen outside his window. NOTE: The garden images conjure up a sense of wild, sensual fertility. Weeds and plants grow in carefree abandon, and Tess doesn't mind getting "cuckoo-spittle" and "slug-slime" all over her hands and dress. She'll endure almost anything to hear Angel's unearthly music. The picture of rank, decaying plant life combined with images of a bird straining toward celestial music gives us a very vivid picture of Tess. She is clearly of the earth, without any shame in its creations. She is also reaching, as a bird, toward celestial music and higher experiences. Unlike Alec, who is completely animal passion, and Angel, who we shall see is completely intellectual vehemence, Tess is an exciting unity of spiritual and sensual impulses. Angel notices Tess and once again they talk. Although almost strangers, they have a surprisingly serious conversation. They share their fears of an unknown future as well as their melancholy "ache of modernism." As Angel points out, this "new" ache is really just an old one in disguise--the ancient Greeks always talked about how it would have been better never to have been born. Neither Angel nor Tess can understand why the other is so gloomy. (Haven't you ever been surprised that someone is unhappy when, in your eyes, they seem to have everything?) To Angel, Tess has a rare "rustic innocence." Tess sees him as a highly educated upper class young man with a world of opportunity before him. It's clear from the very start that each idealizes the other. Though they have problems getting to know each other because of their preconceptions, Tess and Angel are strongly attracted to each other and share a feeling of isolation from society. Tess, who has been hiding the d'Urberville heritage that has caused her so many problems, now thinks that it may make her more attractive to Angel. She asks Farmer Crick how Angel feels about old, aristocratic families. Crick surprises her when he says that Angel hates them and feels they deserve to die out. In Angel's eyes old blood is tired blood, and Tess is, relieved that she didn't tell him about her d'Urberville background. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 20 Hardy traces the germination of Tess' and Angel's romance, comparing it to the fertile abundance of summer at Talbothays. In this rich, lively environment, each rediscovers his or her own strength and vitality. Although they find each other interesting, at this point they stand on "the debatable land between predilection [preference] and love," which, Hardy assures us, may be the most idyllic part of any romance. Right now they don't have any pressures on them--they don't have to consider how the other will fit into his or her life scheme. But is this a mature relationship? Don't Tess and Angel need both to accept and express their feelings and to consider their interdependence before they can become adults? Herding cows at dawn draws them together in an isolated and euphoric fog. Hardy describes them as Adam and Eve, the first man and woman on earth, free from external moral structures and shame. As they walk through beautiful green pastures in misty morning light, Angel again idealizes Tess; the fog makes her look more like a spirit than a living girl. He teases her, calling her by the names of Greek goddesses, but she humbly asks him to call her by her real name--Tess. She doesn't want to be a magical muse to him, but a flesh-and-blood woman, vulnerable and fallible. NOTE: Although this is a very short chapter, read it with much care because it's one of the finest examples of Hardy's using poetic voice to convey complex impressions and elusive feelings, rather than directly telling the story and advancing the plot. He does this by concentrating on the landscape and using it to color and shape our feelings toward the characters. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTERS 21 AND 22 While Angel and Tess play in an earthly paradise, mechanical problems on the farm (the butter won't go through the churn) draw them back to real life. Local superstition has it that the "butter won't come" because someone on the farm is in love. This omen certainly applies to Angel and Tess, though they may not yet be aware of it. Many omens and signs in Tess foreshadow actions and crises. Because the dairy is paralyzed by this churning problem, Mr. Crick tells a true story of love gone sour. One of their farmhands, Jack Dollop, had to hide in the churn when the mother of a girl he had seduced came to force him to marry her. Everybody laughs at the funny story, except Tess, who identifies with the misled girl. Once again the external world reflects her inner state--even the sun at dusk, so often beautiful to her, is "now ugly to her, like a great inflamed wound in the sky." What a painfully different aspect of nature this is compared to the lovely, ecstatic one shown in the last chapter! Hardy shows us that our emotional changes can be just as extreme as changes in the weather--when a sunny day can become a blinding rainstorm in seconds. There may have been times in your life when you and your friends were all romantically interested in the same person. If you were good friends, like Tess and the dairymaids Izz, Retty, and Marian, there probably wasn't too much jealousy or competition among you. The three milkmaids sharing a bedroom with Tess all adore Angel Clare, but knowing that Tess is his favorite they accept their fate, true to the peasant code. NOTE: These three girls act like a Greek chorus amplifying Tess' affection and showing us the comical side of love that our two protagonists are too serious-minded to appreciate. Hardy uses Greek imagery to show us that Fate, or a force beyond our control, has a great deal to do with our destinies. The dairymaids' bedroom scene shows us how different Tess is from her girlfriends. Her passions are deeper, as is her sense of doom. She's convinced she can't have Angel, not because of her poor social background, but because she's not a virgin. Tess decides to deflect Angel's interest in her by drawing him toward the other dairymaids, whom she feels are more worthy than she. (Does Tess have the right to decide whom Angel is to be interested in? Isn't her martyrdom a bit egotistical?) The following day Tess and the other workers are thrust back into real life, for there's another crisis at the farm--garlic in the butter! All hands hunt the wide pastures for the guilty garlic plants. Angel gently pursues Tess while she tries unsuccessfully to draw his attention to the other dairymaids. Did you ever find yourself falling in love with someone by watching how kindly he or she treats others? Tess is amazed by how respectfully Angel treats the other girls, whom he knows are desperately in love with him. After her experience with Alec, Tess expects all men to take advantage of women. Angel doesn't seem to see women as prey, but as individuals deserving consideration and respect. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 23 Angel's gallantry continues in this chapter, but we'll have to see if it's as selfless as Tess thinks. After a summer downpour Angel carries each of the milkmaids over a huge pool of water so they can get to church clean and on time. When at last he carries Tess, he whispers, "Three Leahs to get to one Rachel," meaning that he helped the other girls so he could help her. Angel is not as altruistic as Tess had believed, but who is when one is in love? Later that night in their bedroom, one of the dairymaids reveals that Angel is promised to a preacher's daughter named Mercy Chant. What a shame, as Tess is beginning to succumb to her love for Angel. Now she resolves to forget the whole thing. Cynically, she views their relationship as just another summer fling for gentleman Angel Clare. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 24 "Amid the oozing fatness and warm ferments of the Var Vale, at a season when the rush of juices could almost be heard below the hiss of fertilization," Angel does just what Tess does not expect--he declares his love for her. Like love itself, the magic of this chapter has little to do with what the lovers say to one another but concentrates on an erotic charge in the air. Like most lovers about to reveal their feelings for the first time, they can barely get any words out. We experience their love through Hardy's descriptions of the land, like the one quoted above. These passages evoke sensations of passion and erotic languor. Meanwhile everyday life plods on. Farmer Crick milks his cows, unaware that a confession of eternal love is occurring a few yards away. Angel makes his proclamation practically under the udders of a cow. This is a rather humorous setting, pointing up love's charming innocence as well as its physical basis--an aspect that the delicate Angel tries to avoid. While he envelops Tess in his arms, she's in certain peril of her cow knocking over the milking pail. She uses this danger as an excuse to break free of Angel's embrace. Actually she's afraid that her own emotions and desires will overcome her. It's also possible that she doesn't trust Angel's love and fears that she may place herself in a compromising position if she returns his affection. Whatever her hesitations, however, it's clear that Angel's protestation of love for Tess has changed the world for both of them. Angel's vow of love to Tess has changed how they see not only themselves but everything around them. They begin to view life not as isolated beings but in terms of each other. Reality seems fuller, heightened, because they are seeing it with two sets of starry eyes. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 25 Whereas the last chapter dealt with feelings, this one concentrates on actions. Angel decides to visit his family at Emminster and sound them out about his desire to marry a simple milkmaid. Unlike Alec he has a deep moral sense and can't consider using Tess like a soulless plaything. He thinks marriage can justify his passion for her. It never occurs to him that she might refuse him. Doesn't it seem that Angel is being too impulsive? He hardly knows anything about Tess. Wouldn't it be better if he asked her if she wanted to marry him before asking his parents their opinion? Angel's father and his two brothers, Felix and Cuthbert, are Evangelical or Low Church preachers. Angel is the rebel of his family, refusing to become a preacher because he can't believe its right to follow blindly the letter of the Bible. He is skeptical and considers himself a freethinker, devoid of prejudices and religious fanaticism. While Angel's parents are really good, kind people, concerned with the future of their church, his brothers are snobbish and selfish. At breakfast his family notices how much farm life has changed Angel. He seems healthy and relaxed to us, but his priggish brothers think he has grown crude, even heathen. We see that Angel no longer fits in with the rest of his family. He has our sympathy because he seems so natural and warm compared to these cold, severe Evangelicals. His family's stringent notions of heaven and hell, good and evil, make no sense to him now that he has experienced the "great passionate pulse of existence" at Talbothays Dairy. NOTE: Hardy compares what he considers good religious people to bad ones through the characterizations of Angel's benign, compassionate parents and his snobbish, selfish brothers. Angel is a mixture of his parents and his brothers. Like his parents he's charitable and kind, willing to make exceptions for people's mistakes if circumstances are extreme. Like his brothers he can get carried away with abstract philosophies, and even be snobbish about people whom he considers less worthy than himself. We'll see later that for all Angel's talk about not caring for social conventions, he's rather conservative, even narrow-minded. Angel broaches the subject of marrying a milkmaid with his parents. They want him to marry Mercy Chant, an old friend of the family and a clergyman's daughter. Mercy is a nice girl but lacks Tess' depth, warmth, and spontaneity. But Angel's parents are more receptive to his idea than he had expected. They express a desire to meet Tess. They want Angel to be happy, but believe he will be only if he marries a girl with strong moral and religious sentiments. Mr. Clare accompanies Angel on his way out of town and tells his son about his latest religious successes and failures. In particular he mentions Alec d'Urberville, whom he chastized for philandering. Alec insulted him and went his merry way, much to Mr. Clare's sadness. Both Angel and his father pray for Alec's redemption, little knowing that he is the man who has caused all of Tess' grief. How ironically coincidental that Angel's father tries to touch Alec's heart, and, as we shall see, eventually converts him to Evangelism. NOTE: ON COINCIDENCE AND ACCIDENT Throughout Tess we shall see coincidences such as this one changing forever the fortunes of the characters. As the novel moves to its climax, nearly every other scene involves a coincidence that affects Tess' life adversely. Some readers have criticized Hardy for using this device so often, saying that it makes the story unrealistic. Other readers believe that Hardy uses it deliberately to show that we live in a world in which there are many factors beyond our control. Accident and coincidence are also a part of the ballad structure that Hardy uses in Tess to take the story beyond a purely realistic mode. In ballads accidents often occur, causing the protagonist's tragedy. His or her heroism is related to how valorously he or she struggles for integrity and purpose in an indifferent universe. Coincidences in Tess include Tess' meeting "Preacher" Alec in Chapter 44, as well as Tess' working for Farmer Groby, a man who had earlier accused her of being unchaste, for which he was beaten by Angel. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTERS 26, 27, AND 28 These chapters could be called "the chase." Angel, not entirely unlike the more violent Alec, relentlessly pursues Tess. The idea of a chase is important throughout Tess, where the heroine is often compared to or seen with hunted animals. Like them, she is finally caught, from exhaustion. If you've ever felt amazingly happy to be back with your friends after going home to visit your family, you'll understand how Angel feels when he returns to the Vale of Froom. He is overjoyed to see the home of his beloved Tess. She is just waking from a nap, yawning and stretching like a cat in the sun, relaxed in her sensuality because she thinks she's alone. When Angel surprises her with a hug, she's startled and grows stiff. It seems as if someone is always chasing Tess, interrupting her peace. Like a hunted beast she has no chance to relax. Throughout the day Angel pursues Tess. He tries to make her believe that he needs a milkmaid like herself and not a fancy lady to be his wife. He hides his passion so as not to scare her. He wants her to feel that his proposal is well considered and that it is based on practical as well as emotional reasons. Of course, from what we've seen of Angel's devotions, we know he's just covering up his very natural desires. Tess knows this, too, but that just makes it harder for her to resist, because she cares for him and is attracted to him. She keeps saying no, but it's a different "no" than the one she told Alec. She's strongly attracted to Angel, emotionally intellectually, and spiritually. It's so hard for her to refuse him that "the sound of her own decision seemed to break Tess' very heart." Because Angel demands a reason for her rejection, and Tess doesn't want to chance losing his love by telling him the truth, she invents an excuse. She says that a milkmaid would not be a proper wife for a gentleman such as he. Angel assures her that her background presents no problem. He's above such things, he says, and besides, he plans to educate her and make her presentable to his family. He tells her that his parents have nothing against his marrying a milkmaid as long as she's a virtuous woman. Then Angel relates his father's incident with Alec d'Urberville, and Tess is sure that this is a bad omen for her future with Angel. She refuses him once more. Angel is even more relentless than Alec in pursuing Tess, and it's harder for her to resist because she wants him to catch her. Angel won't take no for an answer. Finally Tess agrees to tell Angel the real reason she won't marry him, if he'll just wait until next Sunday. NOTE: While Angel plays a lighthearted love game, convinced that Tess is just a young coquette playing hard to get, she is enduring agonizing emotional conflicts. Should she listen to her heart and marry him, keeping from him the fact of her affair with Alec and her subsequent pregnancy and child? Or should she stand by her ideals--leaving Angel and hoping that he finds a more deserving, untainted partner. Her life fluctuates between pain and pleasure, the two extreme principles of emotional life. Yet Hardy knows that humans are pleasure-seeking creatures. We know, as Tess herself knows, that she will yield and marry Angel because he gives her so much joy and hope. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTERS 29 AND 30 Dairyman Crick tells another of his stories. In this one, Jack Dollop marries a widow for her money, only to find out that his wife lost her inheritance as soon as she remarried. The dairyman asks the milkmaids: Should the widow have told Jack before they got married that she would lose her inheritance? Tess is adamant that she should either have told him or refused to marry him. The other girls are far more pragmatic in their views, like Jack's unfortunate new wife. Tess considers this story a mirror of her relationship to Angel. She, too, at least physically, has a first husband in Alec. Should she tell Angel or risk his fury, if he finds out after their wedding? Perhaps Tess is too honest for her own good. Maybe she can marry Angel and he'll never find out about her past. She could surely make him happy. On the other hand, can a true marriage exist where there is deception? While Crick's story makes the others laugh, Tess takes it as a lesson and decides once again to refuse Angel. Angel continues to pursue Tess. He refrains from kisses and caresses, and tries to manipulate her with sweet talk. At heart Tess knows that she can't resist him for long. For Hardy this is a basic truth of human nature--the need to experience joy and avoid pain. At the end of the day, Tess and Angel drive the milk cans to market, completely absorbed in their closeness. Blackberries and hazel nuts hang heavily on their boughs, as ready to fall as Tess is to yield and marry Angel. The road is completely deserted. Isn't this the way lovers feel--alone together in the world? Rain begins to fall, cooling the hot summer air and quieting our characters' passions. Angel gently holds Tess close to him; both are wrapped in a tarpaulin to protect them from the rain. Think of this gentle love scene in contrast to the one in which Tess and Alec rode together to Trantridge. Alec, too, held Tess close, but unlike Angel he preyed on her fear and manipulated her affection by violence. NOTE: As Tess and Angel edge toward town, past and present seem to intermix. The two pass an ancient d'Urberville mansion and a modern train, reminding us that lovers are very much the same throughout the ages, no matter how things around them change. The train is a symbol of modern life; its speed and steel construction contrast sharply with Tess' stillness and warm-blooded sensuality: "No object could have looked more foreign to the gleaning cranks and wheels than this unsophisticated girl, with the round bare arms." Tess resembles an exhausted wild animal challenged to a race to the death with a mechanical monster. She doesn't have a chance of winning. Hardy seems to be saying that the heart itself has little place in a mechanized dehumanized age. But the poignant example of Tess' attempts to keep her soul pure in such a world offers us a life-affirming role model. Tess, though poorly educated, is intuitively wise. She wonders at all the strangers who will drink Talbothays' milk, who neither know her nor have ever seen a cow. How much these few words say about the isolation and dissociation of the individuals in modern life. Once again Tess tries to tell Angel about her past but stops for fear of losing his love. Isn't the fact that she's so afraid that the truth will cause her to lose him one of the major problems of their relationship? She does tell him about her d'Urberville heritage, hoping that alone will discourage him. After all, Mr. Crick had told her how much Angel despised old, decayed families. Much to her surprise, Angel is delighted that she's a d'Urberville. His romantic side is quite captivated with the idea of Tess as a simple but noble milkmaid. Now Tess has not only a spiritual pedigree of virtue, but also a social one with which he can defend his marriage before all men. Tess can no longer resist Angel or her own desires. She agrees to marry him. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 31 Sometimes we do things that make us very happy and very sad at the same time. That's how Tess feels about marrying Angel. Should she tell him about Alec? She's certain that it's morally wrong to hide such an important fact from the man whom she has chosen to be her life partner. But what if this knowledge makes him reject her? Why shouldn't she keep the truth to herself and concentrate on making him happy? That's what Tess' mother advises after Tess writes to her about the problem. Joan is a sensible country woman, not at all torn by conflicting feelings and ideas. She tells Tess that men are so prideful and silly about their "respectability" that Tess should keep quiet. What do you think? On the one hand, Tess' seduction by Alec wasn't her fault and should have little to do with her new life with Angel. On the other hand, deception is bad for any close relationship. Tess decides to follow her mother's advice and tries to convince herself that her silence may keep Angel ignorant but happy. Tess tries to shift the responsibility for her decision onto her mother, and this childish freedom calms her and allows her to revel in her love. But as adults we have to take responsibility for our acts. As we shall see, Tess' happiness will lose its sheen because she refuses to accept it as of her own making. Tess' love for Angel is very spiritual. She sees him as a hero, a saint, a seer. Do you think that such worship is good for a relationship? Sometimes one of the biggest problems with being in love is that we don't see clearly the person we're in love with. If you can't see someone, how can you expect to understand him or her? There's one other disturbing aspect to Tess' love for Angel--she acts as though she feels no physical attraction, in violation of her own sensuous nature. NOTE: Some readers think that Tess' adoration of Angel is her way of escaping her own sexuality. In some ways, she's more suited to the erotic Alec. Other readers feel that Tess is sexually attracted to Angel but hides her attraction--perhaps even from herself--under a spiritual veneer. An important thing to understand is that a Victorian lady was not supposed to experience sexual feelings. It was her job to appeal to more spiritual and moral qualities in her man. One thing we do know about Tess' love for Angel is that it's absolute. Her love blocks out, at least temporarily, her fears and sorrows. She hopes perhaps that love will make a new person out of her, forgetting that wisdom, self-confidence, and inner growth come not from outside her but from within. One night, when Angel prods Tess to set a wedding date, she says, "I like living like this," meaning she likes being engaged indefinitely. Suddenly Mr. and Mrs. Crick walk in and see the two lovers together. Angel and Tess are so embarrassed that they instantly make their betrothal public. When Tess tells her milkmaid friends, they're sad to lose Angel but happy for Tess. As peasants, they seem willing to accept whatever fate hands them. Besides, they've never had any real hope of winning Angel, so they aren't envious of Tess. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTERS 32 AND 33 Circumstance often makes our decisions for us. For instance, Tess feels compelled to set a wedding date once Mr. Crick learns of her betrothal and tells her he won't be needing her anymore. Losing her job and home makes Tess frantic because it means that forces outside herself have made her dependent on Angel. Backed into a corner, Tess agrees on a New Year's Eve wedding date. Angel decides that they'll spend their honeymoon fruitfully--observing the workings of a flour mill. This seemingly practical decision is based on the romantic notion of staying at an old d'Urberville mansion next door. Tess and Angel can enjoy Tess' noble past while working toward a simple farming future. The lovers go to town to do their Christmas shopping. No longer under the protective shelter of Talbothays, they run into a Trantridge man who recognizes Tess and insults her virtue. Angel hits the man and he apologizes for mistaking Tess for someone else. The man was right, of course, but Tess doesn't admit it. Filled with new forebodings, however, she decides to call off the wedding and slips a long confessional letter under Angel's bedroom door. He treats her no differently the next morning. Does he forgive her? Did he not read the letter? The mystery is solved on her wedding day when she discovers the unread letter caught under the carpet. Fate seems to be keeping her from confessing and propelling her toward marriage. The marriage ceremony is described solely from Tess' point of view. She's enveloped in a dreamy "luminous mist," and Hardy tells us that she's completely devoted to Angel. Because we don't get a clear picture of Angel's thoughts, he appears rather colorless. Why does Hardy treat his hero so lightly here? Perhaps to emphasize the fact that this is Tess' story alone. After the ceremony Tess remarks that she thinks she's seen their wedding carriage before. Angel assures her that she's just remembering the old d'Urberville coach legend. It is said that a horrible crime was committed in the family coach and ever since, the d'Urbervilles think they can hear or see an oncoming misfortune. This legend throws Tess into a superstitious fit, as she's sure she's a sinful bigamist now that she has married Angel. The chapter ends with yet another bad omen. At Talbothays a cock crows in the middle of the afternoon. NOTE: Seasons and holidays often have symbolic emotional significance in Tess. Tess first sees Angel on May Day. They fall in love under summer's passionate heat and will go their separate ways in icy winter. It could be either a good or bad sign that Tess and Angel marry in cold weather on the last day of the year. It could mean that they will spend their first full day of marriage on the first day of a new and hopeful year. On the other hand, marrying at the end of the year could mean symbolically that they won't have the strength to survive in a fresh new year. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 34 Tess and Angel spend their honeymoon at the old d'Urberville mansion. The experience is unnerving for Tess, as she's surrounded by portraits of her dead relatives. Angel notices that his bride bears some resemblance to various Lady d'Urbervilles whose pictures hang on the walls. The noblewomen's faces are marked by "merciless treachery" and "arrogance to the point of ferocity." Hardy is preparing us for Angel's horrified reaction to Tess' confession at the end of this chapter. A package filled with jewels arrives unexpectedly. It was sent to Tess by Angel's parents and had belonged to his deceased godmother. Just as in a fairy tale, the impoverished girl clasps the diamonds around her neck and becomes a lady. The young couple's merriment over the jewels is interrupted by a farmhand from Talbothays who has come to deliver their luggage. He's late because there has been a series of catastrophes at the dairy since Angel and Tess left on their honeymoon. Retty has tried to drown herself and the usually sober Marian has been drinking heavily. It's obvious that the girls are suffering dreadfully after losing Angel. They foreshadow the extremes that Tess will be driven to when her husband abandons her. Tess interprets these mishaps as ominous omens about her marriage. NOTE: Notice the hearth and fire in this chapter. At first it's glowing and inviting, as in a happy home. By the time the farmhand has delivered his news and left, the embers are beginning to die. The fire symbolizes the passion between Angel and Tess, which is dying because too many strange things are happening around them and because they have been dishonest with each other. The fire will take on an even more sinister appearance in the next chapter, after Tess confesses. As they had agreed before their marriage, Angel confesses his past sins to his new wife. He admits to a weekend fling and begs Tess' forgiveness. Tess is relieved to hear about Angel's brief affair because it makes her think that he will forgive her for what happened with Alec. She even begins to see herself and Angel as mystical twins, so alike in thought and deed that they must be meant for one another. Tess then tells her husband the story of her short liaison with Alec--a far more innocent relationship than Angel's, because she did not intend it to happen. We don't see Angel's outward reaction; we only see how he regards her jewels--winking like ghoulish toads. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 35 Instead of saying that Angel is outraged and appalled, Hardy describes the room as if it had taken on the new feelings of its inhabitants. The room in which they've shared bread, laughed, and told their stories now looks pagan, and all the objects in it are described as irresponsible, lazy, and lecherous. This is precisely how Angel feels about his bride. Angel can't forgive Tess because, he says, she is not the person he thought he had married. Tess is not the chaste, inexperienced farm girl he assumed she was. She is not an ideal but a real human being. Tess acts as though she deserves his disgust, and becomes increasingly subservient. Tess and Angel do not sleep together on their wedding night. They seem more like strangers than husband and wife. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 36 Have you ever had such a terrible fight with a friend that even your beautiful surroundings seemed to turn ugly? By morning, everything in the honeymoon house looks unnervingly cold and alien to them. The fire is completely out and can't be stirred to life with Angel's poker. The characters themselves are described as "ashes of their former fires." Hardy seems to be suggesting that passion is fueled by illusion rather than by truth. Perhaps this is true in Angel's case, but we shall see that Tess' passion is real and enduring. Tess tells Angel that she thought of killing herself under the mistletoe he hung over their bed. Watch how this mistletoe, symbol of both romance and pagan lust, dries up over the weeks that follow their marriage. Eventually, in Chapter 40, Angel will crush it under his feet. Beneath Angel's kindness and sensitivity is a man both immovable and coldly analytical. Angel acts monstrously because he feels that Tess has betrayed him, though she really hasn't. As she tells Angel, he is not really angry at her, but at himself. Tess doesn't use any ploys to win back Angel's affection, though Hardy tells us that Angel would have been happy if she did. Tess respects Angel enough to let him decide for himself. Angel decides that while Alec lives, he (Angel) and Tess cannot remain married. Although Angel makes the decision, he does nothing to carry it out. Tess finally says that they will leave the place and separate. Tess is not a passive woman--she acts when she must or when no one else will. All Angel says is, "I think of people more kindly when I am away from them." TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 37 In the middle of the night a sleepwalking Angel wakes Tess and carries her outside perilously. He whispers to her: "Dead! Dead," referring apparently to the death of their love. (Is he foreshadowing her death, too?) In his sleep Angel is kind to Tess; it's obvious he really loves her and that it's only his hardened, old-fashioned principles that keep him from her. Angel places her in an open coffin at a ruined abbey and falls asleep alongside her. Although Tess is beginning to long for her own death, she still feels responsible for Angel's well-being. She rouses him, and they make their way back to their cottage. In the morning Angel doesn't remember anything that happened, and Tess doesn't feel it's fair to tell him. They visit Talbothays briefly, keeping their problems to themselves. Then Angel leaves Tess at a crossroads, neither knowing if he'll ever see the other again. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 38 Its easy to imagine Tess' feelings of humiliation when she returns home, husbandless. Her mother is disgusted with her eldest daughter's inability to keep a man. But Joan soon takes it in stride as just another act of fate. At Marlott, Tess feels like both a child and an adult. She's had adult experiences but has been drawn back into old habits and feelings of failure. She can't bear to tell her parents the truth about her separation; she says that Angel went ahead to start a farm. She gives her family half the money Angel gave her and leaves home again. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 39 The narrative now turns to Angel's homecoming. His parents want to know where Tess is. Like Tess, Angel lies to his parents, saying that they've separated until he can get them settled. He also tells them that he doesn't want them to see her until he has given her more education. Suddenly we see that Angel is a snob and that his parents are far less traditional than their son. If Tess is good and virtuous, that's enough for them. The parents read a passage from the Bible on the virtuous wife. Angel identifies "virtuous" with virgin, but the quote says nothing about premarital chastity, it says that the virtuous woman is loving, enduring, and selfless. Isn't this a perfect description of Tess? Angel resolves to go far away from his home and his culture, perhaps to see if foreign customs can change his rigid outlook. Having seen a notice for homesteading in Brazil, he impulsively decides to go there. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 40 In this chapter Angel compares Tess with two other women who would have married him: Mercy Chant, his parents' first choice; and Izz Huett, one of the dairymaids at Talbothays. We see Angel briefly with Mercy. She's so loaded down with Bibles and homilies that she seems almost superhuman. Angel knows that regardless of her spotless virtue, such a woman lacks the warmth and humanity that he wants in a wife. He journeys back to his honeymoon retreat at Wellbridge and crushes the mistletoe in the fire grate. Despite this act of romantic denial and despair, he can't help remembering his love for Tess. Izz Huett "coincidentally" drops in while Angel is at the cottage to wish the newlyweds good day. Angel tells her what has happened and impulsively asks her to go to Brazil with him as his mistress. Izz, less conventional than Tess, accepts the offer. She also says that no one, including herself, could love Angel as much as Tess. This brings Angel to his senses, and he retracts his offer to Izz. NOTE: Angel seems increasingly selfish and capricious as we see him through Hardy's eyes, rather than through Tess' love-struck ones. Like Alec, Angel tends to follow a double standard, which allows men to do things that are wrong for women. Although he doesn't go through with his seduction of Izz, we can see that Angel, like Alec, has the potential to take advantage of people. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 41 Too prideful and ashamed to depend either on her parents or on Angel's, Tess, like her husband, strikes out alone. Marian, a Talbothays milkmaid, had told Tess of work in a desolate part of Wessex on Flintcomb-Ash farm. Tess resolves to find work that is less difficult, but sets off in that direction. She's like a "wild animal," foraging for food and shelter and avoiding people. She isolates herself because people have abused her. To be near them frightens her. Sleeping in the woods one night, Tess hears strange gasping noises. In the morning she sees that an around her are dying pheasants that have been mortally wounded by hunters. The pheasants are suffering so desperately that Tess forgets her own woes and decides to help these creatures who are even more helpless than herself. To swiftly end their misery she breaks their necks. In so many ways, Tess, like the pheasants, has been hunted for others' sport. Like the birds she has done nothing to hurt anyone and yet she's an outcast, a woman both shunned and hunted by her society. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTERS 42 AND 43 At some point in your life it's not uncommon to feel so abandoned by friends or family that life seems to be an endless, exhausting journey. This is how Tess feels as she continues on her weary way. So many men accost her that she's afraid for her safety. Like the pheasants in the previous chapter, her beauty makes her a highly desired prey. She tries to make herself ugly by hacking off her eyebrows and tying her face with a kerchief, as though she had a dreadful toothache. She has decided that because Angel hates her she will hate all other men. How like human nature to recoil from an unhappy love affair by refusing to love anyone else. Flintcomb-Ash farm is precisely what its name describes: a wasteland of hard, sharp flint and dead ash. Nature is not fertile as it was at Talbothays, but harsh and unwelcoming. How different this place is from both her hometown and Talbothays! How different, too, is the experienced Tess from her former self. She feels deserted, empty, and lifeless. She and Marian work in the swede (turnip) fields where they dream of the good times at Talbothays. In spite of all, they are still young and in need of hope and fun. Izz Huett joins them, and Marian tells Tess about Angel's propositioning Izz. Tess is shocked. Tess' experiences at Flintcomb-Ash resemble a waking nightmare. Her boss, Farmer Groby, is the man Angel hit for insulting her. Car Darch, the girl who picked a fight with her and caused her to take that fateful ride through The Chase with Alec, also works on this farm. Other harmful people are yet to appear on the stony landscape; we can almost feel them coming. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 44 The news about Angel and Izz drives Tess to visit his parents to see if they'll help win him back for her. On her way she finds a very ominous-looking piece of bloodstained butcher's wrapping paper. Like Tess the paper is "too flimsy to rest, too heavy to fly away." Tess' emotional state is equally fragile and torn. When Tess hides her heavy boots in the bushes, Angel's brothers and Mercy Chant discover them there and condemn their owner as a wicked, wasteful person. They take the boots to give to a poor, deserving soul. Tess feels that she deserves this condemnation and runs away. Hardy tells us how mistaken she is to leave, because Angel's parents would have welcomed any creature in extreme need. Unlike Mercy Chant and Angel's brothers, the elder Clares are truly kind people who see beyond social conventions. They are Hardy's example of good religious people. Despite their fanatical adherence to the letter of the Bible, they show true generosity of spirit. Halfway home, in acute shock and exhaustion, Tess stops to rest. Suddenly she hears a preacher ranting and raving. The voice sounds horribly familiar, and she soon discovers that it belongs to Alec d'Urberville, dressed in a somber clerical outfit. How ironic it seems that Tess' seducer is now a preacher railing against sin. Fate seems to be closing in on Tess, just as the hunters closed in on the pheasants. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 45 Don't you think Tess should run for her life when she sees Alec? She wants to but like a terrified animal she freezes in her tracks. Hardy describes Alec's conversion as merely a new way of expressing his violence. He has channeled his aggression into religious fanaticism. However, it doesn't seem that he has learned much about compassion or humility. Alec is shocked to see Tess after all this time. She runs away but he soon catches up with her and describes his conversion by Angel's father. Tess doesn't trust him however. When he offers to save her, she turns on him, asking whether he has actually saved himself. As Alec and Tess part, he demands that she swear by an old stone cross in the road never to tempt him again. She does so, just to get rid of him. As Tess hurries back to Flintcomb-Ash, she meets a shepherd and asks him if that odd, cross-like pillar really is an ancient crucifix. The shepherd, horrified at her misinformation, tells her that it's not a Holy Cross but "a thing of ill-omen," erected to commemorate the hanging place of an evil man who sold his soul to the devil. The act of swearing on an evil stone foreshadows Tess' death by hanging. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 46 Once again Tess is in danger. Alec pursues her relentlessly, even at her job. He appears as a repentant sinner, vowing to do right and marry her. But there's at least as much desire as duty in his proposal. Hardy lets us know that a violent, lusting man still lurks behind Alec's clerical garb. Tess wouldn't marry Alec, even if she weren't Angel's wife, because she doesn't love him. Tess believes that it is more important to remain faithful to her feelings than to conform to a social code. Is this why her life is so difficult? When she tells Alec that she's already married, he wants to know what kind of man would abandon her. Alec has a point. Is there evidence that Alec has grown kinder? He seems genuinely concerned about Tess' well-being and objects to Farmer Groby's working her so mercilessly. But Tess defends her boss to Alec. "He won't hurt me," she says. "He's not in love with me." Tess has suffered most at the hands of her most ardent admirers. Ironically, those who care most for us often do us the greatest harm. While the other farmhands attend the local fair to line up next year's jobs, Tess stays home, "having some vaguely-shaped hope that something would happen to render another outdoor engagement unnecessary." This laxity in the normally industrious Tess seems strange. Perhaps, though she won't admit it to herself, she's already yielding to Alec's offer of protection. Regardless of how strongly she defends Angel to everyone, she herself doubts that he will ever return. Alec reappears to woo her. He begs her to pray for him, for her beauty has stirred his passion uncontrollably. Tess refuses, saying that God won't listen to someone as insignificant as herself. NOTE: Why is Tess so bitter? She may be pessimistic by nature. In Chapter 4, before anything bad happens to her, she compared the Earth to a blighted star. But life, too, seems to have conspired against her. Her cries for help have been met with nothing but pain, loss, and disappointment. Life has been physically, emotionally, and spiritually painful for her. Circumstances, her overly sensitive temperament, and other people's cruelty have conspired against her, making her the tragic figure we see, battling impossible odds and extraordinary temptations. Tess informs Alec that she, like Angel, doesn't believe in formal religious creeds. Alec retorts that she's just mimicking everything her husband says and can't think for herself. Alec does have a point here, but does he really want Tess to be her own person? What he really objects to is that Angel is her master rather than himself. Alec tells Tess that although he thought he now served God, he still worships her. Isn't this similar to how Tess feels about Angel? Alec finally collects himself and leaves, yet his heart is enslaved by Tess, a woman who doesn't love him. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 47 This chapter pits Tess against the machines and men (like Alec) of the industrial age. Tess represents the old agrarian order fighting desperately against the relentless new world of money and machines. The farm girls go to the fields for the final threshing of the wheat-rick (stack) at Flintcomb-Ash. The thresher is red, symbolizing its brutal destructiveness. Hardy calls it a "tyrant" that the girls must slavishly serve. NOTE: The nameless man who drives the thresher is indifferent to the land and to these hardworking people. He's a frightening symbol of how the countryside is becoming controlled by faceless, alien individuals who work solely for money. Such interlopers threaten customs and traditions. Farmer Groby has a grudge against Tess, probably because Angel once hit him for insulting her. As an unspoken punishment, he chooses Tess to work directly on the thresher, "close to the man that fed it." Thus, we see Tess as fodder for this ever-hungry mechanism. Into this living nightmare comes Alec, dressed in his dandyish courting clothes. Alec tells Tess that she haunts him as if she is a demon that possesses his soul. NOTE: Think of all the times that Tess is compared to a ghost. Like an apparition she seems not quite to belong on Earth--her ideals are too lofty, her beauty too transcendent. Also, because of the anguish she has endured, she feels that her soul is divorced from her body. However, there is also a life-affirming quality to Tess' ghostliness--remember how she rose from the coffin that Angel placed her in? Alec blames Tess for making him lose his faith, but he also admires Tess for leaving him and trying to make a life for herself. NOTE: Alec decides that if God doesn't exist, he doesn't have to answer to anyone concerning his morals. Do you think morals and faith in God have to go hand-in-hand? Tess doesn't. Though she may turn her back on established religion, she has high moral standards. Alec hasn't changed much, has he? He's still selfish and insensitive. Yet Alec does offer tangible help to Tess. His offer of marriage forces Tess to confront the fact that her beloved Angel, despite his preaching of morality, has abandoned her. In many ways Tess embodies the best of both Angel and Alec. She combines Alec's passionate nature and Angel's enlightening spirituality. She lacks Angel's cruel adherence to dogma and Alec's frightening violence. However, Angel and Alec have the ability to be free, while Tess is restrained by being poor, unchaste, and female. Tess can't bear to hear Alec berate Angel. Without thinking she slaps him with her heavy glove, drawing blood. Isn't this the very reaction you'd expect from a rugged old d'Urberville knight? Alec, unlike Angel, draws out Tess' fierce survival instinct. The blood foreshadows his eventual murder. Tess knows that slapping Alec is pointless; physically, socially, and economically he is powerful. She goads him to punish her, as if to end his pursual of her. She says of herself: "Once victim, always victim--that's the law!" Tess is a victim in the sense that she lacks social and economic power, yet she does remain in control of her own moral destiny. Alec is both excited and angered by Tess' behavior. He leaves her with the sinister promise that one day he will be her master again. Tess, shaken, returns to the monstrous thresher, preferring the mechanical beast to the human one. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTERS 48 AND 49 Alec soon returns, supposedly to participate in the rat hunting that takes place once all the wheat-ricks have been threshed. Like the defenseless rats in the wide-open field, Tess has nowhere to run to escape him. Alec tells Tess that he won't hurt her; he just wants to help her and her family. When he mentions providing for her brothers and sisters, Tess' nurturing instincts are touched, and she almost yields to him. Tess feels abandoned by Angel, tormented by Alec's propositions, and thoroughly exhausted by the farm work. She writes to Angel, begging him to return and let her be with him, even as his servant. She says she is "exposed to temptation," (meaning Alec) and wants Angel back before something terrible happens. Angel's parents receive the letter and send it to their son in Brazil. Angel, too, has been tormented and realizes, through the words of a passing stranger, that he should not judge Tess by her past. Because Tess is intrinsically good, the stranger argues, Angel shouldn't abandon her. Angel begins to question his conventional morality, which has nothing to do either with nature or with spiritual goodness. Angel decides that "the beauty or ugliness of a character lay not only in its achievements, but in its aims and impulses; its true history lay, not among things done, but among things willed." Thus, far away from Tess and from his native social customs, Angel finds his way back to her. Unfortunately Tess doesn't know this; she is convinced that Angel is gone forever. Tess' younger sister, 'Liza-Lu, arrives at Flintcomb-Ash and tells Tess that their mother is dying and that their father is very sick. Tess has no choice but to go home and help her family. Once before, her family's financial problems forced her into Alec d'Urberville's hand. Will they do so again? TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 50 Under cover of night Tess returns home. She nurses her mother and cares for her younger brothers and sisters, forgetting her own emotional agony in the face of their extreme and immediate need. To her they are similar to the dying pheasants. John Durbeyfield, desperate to support his family, decides to apply to "local antiqueerians" to maintain him. He reasons that because they spend huge sums of money maintaining the d'Urberville ruins, a living relic would be an even more valuable investment for them. Of course that's not how they feel. People like the romance of the extinct d'Urberville aristocracy, but they don't want to dirty their hands with the real thing. Because the Durbeyfields have eaten all their seed potatoes, they have nothing to plant for the coming year. Tess sets out to plant a garden. Hard work and concern for the future are her tools of survival, and as such they come before her dreams. Hardy describes the peasants working their gardens late into the night, after the day's labor is finished. A hellish scene, it parallels the harshness of Tess' life and her tormented state of mind. She feels as if she is in hell, without hope of salvation. Is it any wonder that the primary planting tools are pitchforks, symbols of the devil? A mysterious, blinding fog envelops the fields. Tess sees a stranger tilling the earth near her. It is Alec in worker's disguise He has become almost demonically obsessed with Tess, following her everywhere, demanding that she share his fate. He even calls himself the Old Other One, another name for the devil, and she is his Eve whom he has come to tempt, like the Biblical snake. Tess runs home, unable to go on working, and discovers that her mother has recovered but that her father has suddenly died. Not only must the family deal with deep and natural grief, they must also deal with the harsh rules of survival. Tess' father was his family's last "lifeholder." Because the money-hungry landowners won't renew the lease, Tess and her family are cast out of their home. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 51 The novel now moves at a rapid, crisis-filled pace, as everything turns against the Durbeyfields. NOTE: Hardy tells us that the Durbeyfields, in their status as "lifeholders," and rural tradesmen were socially a notch above common laborers. Tess was written at a time when most "lifeholders" were being squeezed out. Hardy thought this was a tragedy because he saw this class of people as the backbone of the community. Rooted to their property, they were able to develop secure traditions and stable institutions for the agrarian community. Now everyone was being flung into a rootless life of migrant farm work, where they would serve only machines. Alec returns to tempt Tess, knowing that her family is in desperate circumstances, and again Tess refuses his help. Tess grows angry at Angel for deserting her and writes him a scathing letter. Truly demoralized, Tess finds herself wondering if Alec isn't her natural husband because he was the first man she slept with and he is now offering to love and protect her. NOTE: Notice that when Alec first appears in this scene, Tess says she doesn't see him, but fancies she hears a carriage and horses. Remember that she fancied she saw a coach on her wedding day, at which time Angel told her she was falling prey to an old d'Urberville legend in which a horrible crime had been committed in the family carriage. Alec elaborates on the legend and tells her that long ago one of the d'Urbervilles committed murder in the coach. Only members of the d'Urberville family can hear this imaginary carriage, which serves as an evil omen. This omen is Tess' murder of Alec. The Durbeyfields pack their belongings in a wagon and travel to Kingsbere, where all the d'Urbervilles are buried. Joan says it may bring them luck to be near their illustrious past, but the journey to Kingsbere is more like a voyage to their own burial ground. They meet countless families on the move that day, including Izz and Marian on their way to another job. Unlike the unwanted Durbeyfields, these hearty girls travel in luxury. Izz and Marian notice Tess' dire situation and, because they are good friends, they send Angel a letter warning him that he may lose her to another man, as she is in desperate straits. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 52 At Kingsbere there is no room for the Durbeyfields at the inn. NOTE: Tess is beginning to overcome her sense of herself as a victim and to become a willing sacrifice, like a martyred saint. This gives her a control over her fate that the hunted animal never has. Having nowhere to sleep, the Durbeyfields set up camp outside their family vault. A beautiful and costly stained glass window bought with d'Urberville gold is the headboard for their rickety communal bed. Tess explores with awe the church and the family tombs. She thinks she sees a stone effigy move. Suddenly the "effigy" rises and terrifies her. She thinks she has seen a ghost, but it's Alec d'Urberville, taunting her. He reminds her that "the Old Order changeth," and that an inauthentic d'Urberville like himself can do more to save her than all the authentic ones lying in their graves. Alec seems to be losing his grip on reality as his obsession with Tess grows. After Alec leaves, Tess looks wearily at the locked vaults and wonders despairingly, "Why am I on the wrong side?" Anyone who has endured all that Tess has might feel like dying, too. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTERS 53 AND 54 Angel, the prodigal son, returns home from South America looking almost like a ghost himself. He has been sick and has seen much of death and despair. His hardships have not only aged his body but matured his soul. He will have to wait to see if his change is more meaningful than Alec's religious conversion. He decides to find Tess and make amends. After receiving her angry note, however, he's not sure she wants him back. Angel retraces Tess' life since he last left her by visiting Flintcomb-Ash and Marlott. In this way he shows a desire to know who she is and what she has endured. No longer is he a self-centered idealist caught in a dream of the ideal world. He finds Tess' mother, who now lives in a remote country place, and demands to know Tess' whereabouts. Joan is very elusive, but Angel is determined. Finally she gives him Tess' address at Sandbourne, a fashionable seaside resort. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 55 Angel can't understand why Tess would be at such an elegant resort. Is she working as a maid for a rich family? Sandbourne is a new, lively resort town set in the mist of an old wasteland and bordered by the sea. How typical it is for humans to build a resort in the mist of so much desolation--how wonderful and frightening at the same time. And how unlikely a place to find someone as earthy as Tess. Angel finds Tess living at The Herons, a fashionable hotel. She is using her ancient family name, d'Urberville because she is living with Alec. When she descends the staircase to meet Angel, she's beautifully arrayed in a cashmere dressing gown. Despite her new life as Alec's mistress, she looks radiant. To Hardy, she is still pure because she has remained spiritually loyal to Angel. Angel, on the other hand, looks pale and sickly. He tells Tess he has come to get her, but she seems repelled by him and keeps him at a distance. Angel desperately admits his grave errors toward Tess and begs her forgiveness. He wants her to come back to him. Tess' eyes shine unnaturally, as if she has lost her mind. Finally she tells Angel what has happened--how she waited for him and how she lost hope that he would ever return. After her father's death, she became responsible for the family. What else could she do but fall back on Alec? Tess tells Angel to go away. She refuses to touch him, as if she were contaminated. The situation is unbearable for both of them. Circumstances have forced Tess to go against her will in order to protect herself and her family. She may be living with Alec, but her spirit is wholly with Angel. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTERS 56, 57, AND 58 Chapter 56 is narrated from the perspective of Mrs. Brooks, the landlady at The Herons. If this were a movie, the camera would be far away from the action. This distancing approach makes Tess' hysteria and her murder of Alec seem like a dream, and reflects Tess' distracted state of mind. It also distances us from the story, in turning individuals into figures in a ballad. By forcing us to step back from the action, Hardy keeps his story from descending to the level of a soap opera. Hardy describes Tess as a tortured soul who blames herself and Alec both for her own misery and for Angel's. Can we blame Alec for getting angry? Would anyone want to care for someone who was forever mourning her lost love and blaming her benefactor for everything that has gone wrong in her life? Hardy doesn't show us Tess picking up the carving knife and stabbing Alec in their bed. It's far less melodramatic and far more chilling to use our imaginations as spots of blood spread across the ceiling below, turn heart-shaped, and "drip, drip, drip." Tess catches up to Angel as he is leaving town and, like a repentant child, tells him she has killed Alec. Now that she has destroyed the person who represents everything that kept them apart--passion, her past, modern life, middle class morality, and her socially unacceptable "fallen state," she's certain that Angel will forgive her. In her state of mind, to kill Alec is not to murder a man but to destroy everything that has kept her from the happy, full life she could have had with Angel. NOTE: Many of you will want to argue that once Tess commits murder, she's no longer the "pure" woman that Hardy says she is. Others of you will join the author in defending her purity on the grounds that her heart remains good even though terrible circumstances have driven her to commit a horrible crime. There are many ways to try to justify Tess' crime, but Hardy doesn't defend it specifically. Like all the accidents, coincidences, and crises that overshadow Tess' life, it seems to happen because, in fatalistic folklore terms, it was meant to be. What you have to decide first is whether Alec ruined Tess' and Angel's chances for happiness, or whether Angel himself ruined them by falsely professing to hate traditional morality. Angel forgives Tess now. How sad it seems that when she asked his forgiveness on their wedding night, before she was driven to murder, he refused her. Self-sacrifice and honesty didn't win Angel's soul for her; violence did. Tenderness has finally mastered Angel Clare and he kisses Tess passionately, something he has never done before. He also promises to protect her. Like two runaway children, Angel and Tess stumble into the woods, thinking of nothing but the present moment. Tess seems completely fearless now. She doesn't seem worried about being apprehended. Angel and Tess spend several blissful days in a deserted mansion, consummating their love. When Angel, convinced they've been discovered in their isolated paradise, urges that they move on, Tess is reluctant. Tess is content to stay put, even if it means getting caught. She has Angel at last--you would think she would want to share a long, happy life with him. But Tess is tired of running and fighting, and she is certain that one day Angel will despise her for her mistakes. She would rather die than be hated by the one man she has lived for. Is it unnatural to want to end a relationship at its moment of greatest joy rather than to watch helplessly as the relationship falls slowly apart? Angel and Tess stumble along, two fugitives under cover of night. They pass through the ancient, majestic city of Melchester, but its beauty is lost on them. They shun society for having made their love impossible. Groping through the lonely, black night, they find themselves in a "Temple of Winds." This is Stonehenge, with its primitive, stark boulders set up in worship of the Sun. Tess finds a stone altar where an ancient people sacrificed to the Sun God in order to keep the cycles of nature revolving. When Tess flings herself upon the altar, Angel is reminded of how he often called her a heathen. Resting on this stone slab, Tess is now at peace with nature and with herself. She even seems to accept her impending death as a necessary sacrifice. NOTE: Many readers find Tess' sacrifice necessary as a way of making society reconsider its mores and learn to judge people by their inner worth rather than by conformity to absolute social standards. Because Tess stands outside the social order and because this order has no organic connection to nature, Tess is cruelly abused and misunderstood. As she lies on the sacrificial tomb, Tess asks Angel to care for and marry her younger sister, 'Liza-Lu, so he'll always be a part of her, even when she is dead. Angel is appalled at this request, not only because of the assumption that his wife will die, but because of the social impropriety of a middle-class Victorian man marrying his sister-in-law. Will Angel never escape his middle-class Victorian background? While Tess sleeps, the police come to arrest her. As Angel requests, they wait until she awakes on her own. She says she is happy and seems prepared to die. You can see Tess as a victim, lying on this sacrificial altar, but you can also see her as a willing martyr, dying so that others may live and learn from her struggle. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: CHAPTER 59 As in the murder sequence, Hardy distances us from the events concerning Tess' hanging. He does so both to avoid melodrama and to show us that human lives are pathetically insignificant in terms of the vast and incomprehensible universe. Hardy wants us to realize that no matter how terrible the moment seems, the pulsing life force continues. 'Liza-Lu and Angel watch the execution from a distant hilltop. From this vantage point they can see the whole, awe-inspiring city--a true manifestation of human art and civilization. The one blot on this noble landscape is the prison where Tess is being hanged. As the prison flag falls, signifying that Tess is dead, Hardy says: "'Justice' was done and the President of the immortals, in the Aeschylean phrase, had ended his sport with Tess." Many readers quote this passage to confirm their belief in Hardy's pessimistic view of justice in this world--justice by God and justice by man. Other readers think the passage is a modern restatement of the Greek idea that man is merely the plaything of supernatural forces. (Hardy himself said that "The President of the Immortals" did not refer to the Biblical God; yet the book seems to take a very dim view of divine justice.) You may come away from the novel feeling that justice has not been served by Tess' hanging. You may also feel, however, that the novel ends on a positive note because Tess welcomes death as an escape from an agonizing life. Isn't the final view of 'Liza-Lu and Angel walking off hand-in-hand an affirmation of life? TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: GLOSSARY BAILY Bailiff BANNS Marriage papers BLACK-POT A blood and fat variety of sausage. CALLED HOME Dead. CLIPSING AND COLLING Embracing. COTTEREL The iron crossbar in a fireplace, on which a pot is hung. GALLIED Scared. GOOD-HUSSIF A portable sewing kit. HAGGLER A chicken peddler, one who buys and sells chickens. HARRIDANS Shrews. HOBBLE Problem; sticky situation. HODGE Derogatory term for a farm worker, used in Hardy's day. KNACKER One who buys worn-out animals or their carcasses to make into fertilizer or animal food. LANCHET Area full of flintrock. LARRY Commotion. LIVIER Tenant for life. MALT From the expression "to get green malt in flour," meaning to become pregnant. MAMPUS A crowd. MARKET-NITCH How much alcohol one has drunk after going to market. MOMMET A scarecrow. NAMMER-TIME Mid-morning or afternoon snack for field workers. PINNER Pinafore. PLIM To swell. PUMMY Mashed apples to be made into cider. SUMPLE Supple, pliant. TEAVE To labor. THIRTOVER Cross, obstructive. THISTLESPUD A spade for digging up thistles. TRANTER A person who does odd jobs, usually with a horse and wagon. VAMP Tramp. VLEE A one-horse carriage, usually rented. WHICKERED Snickered, neighed. WROPPER Apron. WULD Old. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: ON TESS' CHARACTER She (Tess) can flirt, she can listen, she can sympathize, she can work with her hands. Except when it is mocked or thwarted, she is superbly at ease with her sexuality. In no way an intellectual, she has a clear sense of how to reject whatever fanatic or pious nonsense comes her way.... Her womanly softness does not keep her from clear judgments, even toward her beloved Angel she can sometimes be blunt.... At least twice in the book Tess seems to Hardy and the surrounding characters larger than life, but in all such instances it is not to make her a goddess or a metaphor, it is to understand her embattled womanliness. -Irving Howe, Thomas Hardy, 1967 TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: ON TESS' RELATIONSHIP TO ALEC AND ANGEL The female in her was indomitable, unchangeable, she was utterly constant to herself. But she was, by long breeding, intact from mankind. Though Alec d'Urberville was of no kin to her, yet, in the book, he has always a quality of kinship. It was as if only a kinsman, an aristocrat, could approach her. And this to her undoing. Angel Clare would never have reached her... It needed a physical aristocrat.... Alec d'Urberville forced her to realize him, and to realize herself. -D.H. Lawrence, "A Study of Thomas Hardy," 1936 TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: ON ANGEL AND ALEC Angel and Alec appear as figures of Victorian society hovering around Tess, but misunderstanding her, unworthy of her, unable to match her natural strength and spontaneity.... Both are statements about the principal character types of the Victorian middle class--the cruel bourgeois and the disinherited intellectual: both are without roots, both show a split between thought and feeling, both lack an adequate image of selfhood. -Albert J. LaValley, Twentieth Century Interpretations of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, 1969. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: NATURE IN TESS By constructing the Tess-universe on the solid ground... of the earth as Final Cause, mysterious cause of causes, Hardy does not allow us to forget that what is most concrete in experience is also what is most inscrutable, that an overturned clod in a field or the posture of herons standing in a water mead or the shadow of cows thrown against a wall by evening sunlight are as essentially fathomless as the procreative yearning, and this in turn as fathomless as the sheerest accident in event. The accidentalism and coincidentalism in the narrative pattern of the book stand, thus, in perfectly orderly correlation with the grounding mystery of the physically concrete and the natural. -Dorothy Van Ghent, "On Tess of the d'Urbervilles" in The English Novel: Form and Function, 1953. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF TESS Hardy sets the culminating family tragedy against the ominous background of the Lady Day migration of so many village folk. The erasure of long local life by these contemporary migrations, Hardy perceived, was a grave social and spiritual loss. It is no accident of art that the story of Tess should end amid scenes of uprooting.... Only a place in the family vault, a home there, remains to the derelict inheritors [the Durbeyfields]. It is this homeless despair of a family which has lost its rights and independence in the village community, that gives Tess finally into the invader's power. -Douglas Brown: Social and Individual Fate in Tess from Thomas Hardy, 1961. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: TESS AND THE COLOR RED For an artist as visually sensitive as Hardy, colour is of the first importance and significance, and there is one colour which literary catches the eye, and is meant to catch it, throughout the book. This colour is red, the colour of blood, which is associated with Tess from first to last. It dogs her, disturbs her, destroys her. She is full of it, she spills it, she loses it. Watching Tess' life we begin to see that her destiny is nothing more or less than the colour red. -Tony Tanner, "Colour and Movement in Tess of the d'Urbervilles" in R. P. Draper's Hardy--The Tragic Novels, 1975. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES: ON HARDY THE WRITER Not only the "modern" novelist is prey to tensions and ambivalences, and to radical divergences of feeling and belief, sympathy and judgment. The most important tension for Hardy--the very heart of his aesthetic in fact--was the simple desire to juxtapose plausible human beings and strange uncommon events, the real and the fantastic.... Hardy was a conscious anti-realist, opposed to the documentary and the drab, in spite of his minute fidelity to the physical world. He knew that all great art is a disproportioning.... -Albert J. Guerard, Hardy: A Collection of Critical Essays, 1963. THE END