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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 20

Summary

Angel and Tess are in constant company of each other on the farm. As the season changes, their passion for each other grows stronger. She becomes "a visionary essence of woman" to him, and Artemis and Demeter are his fanciful names for her. Unfortunately, as he idealizes Tess more and more, it will be harder and harder for him to ever accept the truth about her.

Notes

For Tess, life goes on peacefully and cheerfully on Talbothay's farm. She is constantly in the company of Angel, which she enjoys immensely. Hardy states that these are the only happy days in this young woman's life.

For Angel, each day spent with Tess enhances her beauty and divinity. He pictures her as a goddess (much like Hardy pictures Angel in the garden), and calls her Artemis. The tragedy is that Angel, in seeing her as perfection, will never be able to understand or accept her flaws.


It is significant to notice the faint summer fog which spreads over the meadows, making them appear gray. There is a comparison to Tess in this description of nature. The mist and moisture have increased her loveliness, and she glows with the wonderful weather; but like the mist that covers the valley, she is covering up her past from Angel. In her heart, there is a hidden panic, which still makes her sad and lonely.

CHAPTER 21

Summary

The Chapter begins with a commotion in the milk house. Butter is not churning out, and everyone is worried. Crick's wife remarks that it happens only when someone on the farm is in love. After lots of churning, butter starts forming, and everybody is relieved. By now, Angel's interest in Tess is no longer a secret; his love for Tess has become the favorite topic among the milkmaids. Tess feels a bit guilty about her involvement, for she has decided that she will never marry due to her past.

Notes

Tess knows that the milkmaids' candid opinions and Mrs. Crick's suspicion are true; at the same time, she realizes that unwittingly she has caused a setback to the milkmaids' fancies and imaginations, a fact which bothers her. She is also skeptical of Angel's wish to marry a farm woman, rather than a fine lady, and she imagines it is a temporary fancy for Angel.

This chapter points out the differences in Tess, Marian, and Retty. Tess' love for Angel is deep and placid; it is only her past that prevents her from disclosing her love. The other milkmaids talk about their love freely, but it lacks the intensity of Tess's love.

CHAPTER 22

Summary

The next morning begins with a complaint from a customer who says that the butter tastes sharp. All the farm hands and milkmaids go out in the meadow in search of garlic weeds, which can spoil the taste of butter if eaten by the cows.

Angel waits for Tess and works beside her. She points out the virtues of Izz and Retty, two of the milkmaids who are crazy about Angel, and encourages him to take an interest in them. Her ulterior motive is to see that his attention is diverted from her, for she thinks he deserves somebody more pure and worthy than she is. Angel, however, makes it explicitly clear that Tess is above the rest of the milkmaids.

Notes

By now Tess is old enough to realize that Angel's interest in her is not purely platonic, but she also knows he seems serious about her, a fact that is troubling. Her selfless nature and her belief that she is unworthy of him make Tess stay away from Angel, for she does not want to deceive him or lead him on. She also tries to advance the cause of the other milkmaids, pointing out their virtues to Angel.

At the end of this chapter, it is important to stop and compare the development of Tess's relationship with Angel to that of her encounter with Alec. Because of her loss of innocence and maturity, Tess is much more on guard about this relationship.

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