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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 7

Summary

On the day of her departure, Tess dresses in her best clothes at the insistence of her mother, who is still dreaming about her daughter marrying Alec. Joan is delighted with Tess's appearance and feels confident that it will be difficult for Alec to ignore her beauty. Tess's younger brothers and sisters are jubilant about the thought of their sister marrying a gentleman. When Tess is ready to leave, Joan begins to worry about sending her daughter away. She walks with Tess for awhile, and some of the children follow along. As she approaches the cart that will take her luggage, Tess bids her family a quick good-bye. She then looks up and sees Alec, who has come for her. When she climbs up beside him, she can still see her family in the distance. As she thinks about their needs, Tess knows that she is doing the correct thing by going to Trantridge. It is now her family that is uncertain; they are unhappy and tearful about her departure. For the first time, Joan is apprehensive about sending her away with a stranger and regrets not having made inquiries about him.

Notes

Joan is fully aware of her family's plight in life. She also knows that Tess' rustic beauty is the only thing to save them from poverty. When Tess tells her mother about the D'Urberville's son, Joan thinks that Alec must have great admiration for her daughter. She, therefore, insists that Tess dress in her best clothes to go to Trantridge in order to impress Alec further. She wants her daughter to wed this wealthy young man, for matrimony is the most convenient way of gaining wealth and status. A D'Urberville marriage would benefit the whole family. Unfortunately, Joan is not sending Tess away to a marriage to Alec; instead, she her daughter will soon endure a seduction by this cruel man.


It is important to note Joan's misgivings during the chapter. At first she thinks it is wonderful that Tess is going to Trantridge. Then she is saddened by the thought of losing her daughter. Finally, she feels guilty and nervous about sending Tess away with a stranger that she knows nothing about. Joan's misgivings are well founded and serve as a flashback to the feelings Tess has had upon meeting Alec. Joan's feelings also foreshadow the future trouble that Alec will cause.

CHAPTER 8

Tess leaves with Alec for Trantridge. His reckless driving makes Tess uneasy. She asks him to be more careful, and he demands a kiss to oblige her, revealing his true nature. Tess immediately wipes her cheek after Alec forcibly plants a kiss on it. This action outrages Alec.

Shortly afterwards, Tess's hat blows off, and she gets off the cart to retrieve it. Then she refuses to get back in the cart with Alec, for she is upset over his amorous advances and his anger. Tess is determined to walk the rest of the way, and Alec grows even more furious at her audacity. While walking, Tess ponders returning home, for she cannot trust her employer.

Notes

It is very obvious that Alec is infatuated with Tess, for he cannot keep his eyes off of her. Tess's constant requests to Alec to be more attentive towards the road rather than her go unheeded. In fact, he tries to show off more by urging the horses into a full gallop. The jerky ride leaves Tess on edge. When Alec demands a kiss in order to drive more cautiously, Tess is shocked and begins to realize what the real Alec is like. She protests his behavior by refusing to reboard the cart after retrieving her hat. Alec screams at her, and Tess angrily responds; but she still refuses to climb back up beside him. As Alec watches her trudge beside the cart, he feels somewhat guilty, for he knows he has caused the situation. At the same time, Tess wants to go home, but she feels no one would accept or understand her reasons. If Tess, at this point, had followed her instincts, she would have saved herself from the cruel hands of fate.

At the beginning of the chapter, Hardy foreshadows that fate will not be kind to Tess. He states that she was leaving Marlott, "the Green Valley" of her birth, and moving towards an unknown "grey country".

CHAPTER 9

Summary

On reaching her destination, Tess is shocked to discover that Mrs. D'Urberville is blind. She also finds the elderly woman to be cold and uncaring towards her. Tess learns from her that in addition to tending the Trantridge fowl, she is to whistle for the bullfinches every morning. Alec seizes this opportunity to teach Tess how to whistle and encourages her to practice. He tries to find reasons to spend time with her. Tess tries to ignore him and settles into her new existence.

Notes

The reader is introduced to the D'Urberville house, which Tess judges to be a bit unruly. She is shocked to find that Mrs. D'Urberville is blind and too naive to realize that the elderly woman knows nothing about who Tess is. She thinks that the woman's indifference to her is simply due to her wealth. Alec has obviously not explained anything to his mother, but he delights in calling Tess "cousin" when they are alone. In spite of Alec's all too frequent presence, Tess settles into her new routine and is happy looking after the birds.

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