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Free Study Guide-Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES

CHAPTER 4

Summary

Joan refers to the "complete fortune teller" and is delighted to discover that Tess's future lies with nobility. She reveals this information to her husband when she joins him at Rolliver's Inn. She also tells him of her eagerness to send Tess to Trantridge, where their distant relations stay. Joan believes that Tess will be accepted into their family, a situation, which would brighten her matrimonial prospects. Abraham, Tess's younger brother, overhears his parent's conversation and reveals it to his sister. Little Abraham, who is fascinated with stars, feels that if Tess marries and becomes rich, he may some day own a spy-glass to draw the stars nearer.

Since her father is in ill health and not doing well after his drinking at Rolliver's, Tess and Abraham leave early the next day to deliver the beehives to Casterbridge. On the way, their wagon is involved in an accident, and Prince, their horse, is killed. Tess blames herself for the terrible loss. A farmer takes the children on to the market and then delivers the dead Prince to Marlott. John refuses to sell the dead horse and works harder in burying him than he has worked in months.


Notes

In this chapter, Tess is again pictured as the responsible member of the Durbeyfield family. Knowing that her father does not feel like delivering the beehives, she volunteers to go herself. Since she is leaving very early in the morning in order to accomplish her task, she wisely and responsibly takes Abraham with her for company. When Prince is killed in the accident, she blames herself much more harshly than her parents blame her; but she is really the only one who understands that the loss of the horse means a great interruption to the family and a loss of future income. Tess is also the only one who is not intrigued with the idea of her marrying a wealthy gentleman. Her parents view it as a way to end their poverty and misery. To Abraham, a wealthy marriage for Tess might mean a spyglass for him, a way to draw the stars nearer. But Tess is not a dreamer; instead, she is firmly rooted in the realities and concerns of the present. She knows her mother lives in an imaginary world of fortune-telling and her father drinks too much, works too little, and makes irrational decisions like the one to rent a carriage to take him home in Chapter 1 and the one to bury Prince rather than selling his body for cash that is much needed by the family. If the family is to survive the present, Tess must not dream about her future, but take care of the family's current needs.

CHAPTER 5

Summary

Initially, Tess is too proud to go to her distant relatives to seek help, but the misfortune that she has brought to the family by her negligence with the horse has to be atoned. With little choice left, she reluctantly goes to see Mrs. D'Urberville. Upon arriving, she meets the wayward son, Alec D'Urberville, instead of his mother, who she learns is an invalid. Tess tells Alec about the unfortunate situation with the horse, and he promises to help her. It is obvious that Alec is impressed and bewitched by this beautiful, young country girl. He fills her basket with strawberries and gives her flowers. Tess, feeling uneasy about Alec, quickly departs for home.

Notes

The readers are again shown Tess's innocence and her sense of responsibility. She accepts the fact that she must go to see the D'Urbervilles, even though she does not want to do it. When she arrives, Alec greets her. Tess is so naive that she has no understanding of the havoc her beauty is playing on Alec. He is totally smitten by her loveliness and country charm. His unwarranted attention puzzles Tess. Alec's intentions, however, are very obvious to the reader as Hardy begins to develop his villainous character.

CHAPTER 6

Summary

On her way home, Tess takes a van. She becomes the center of attraction with her flowers and berries. When she arrives home, she finds that a letter has already come from Mrs. D'Urberville, offering her a job. Surprised by the quickness of the offer, she is a bit suspicious of it, especially since the handwriting in the letter is very masculine in appearance. As an alternative to this offer of tending fowls for the D'Urbervilles, Tess looks for a job in Marlott and finds there is nothing available. As a result, she decides to go to Trantridge so she can earn enough money to pay for a new horse.

Notes

Enthralled with Tess, Alec does not waste time in making her an offer of employment in Trantridge. He sends a letter to her about the job and signs it as his mother. Tess feels uneasy about the offer, but the rest of her family rejoices at the good news. They are all delighted that Tess has favorably impressed their wealthy kinsfolk and believes that Tess's employment will relieve them of their impoverishment. A naive Joan foresees a wedding between Alec and her daughter; but passion, not marriage is on Alec's mind.

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