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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 33

Summary

Before the wedding, Angel takes Tess into town to make some purchases. While she waits for Angel, Tess is spotted by an acquaintance from Trantridge, who rudely makes a comment about her lack of chastity. Angel hears the remark and hits the man. The Trantridge man apologizes, Angel gives him some money, and they go peacefully on their separate ways.

The incident unnerves Tess, and she looks forward to moving far away where she will not be recognized. But that night, she decides she must confess her past to Angel in a letter. She writes down everything and slips the letter under Angel's door. The next day she is pleasantly surprised by his warmth and love and thinks he is forgiving her. Tess breathes a sigh of relief that the ordeal is over.

On the day of the wedding she is shocked to discover her sealed letter beneath the carpet in his room. Since the wedding is about to begin, she decides to tell Angel in person about her past. She destroys the letter and rushes to find her future husband. She tells him she wants to confess her faults before the wedding. Angel, not wanting to spoil the day, assures Tess that there is plenty of time in the future to talk about their wrongdoings. With no choice left, a dismayed Tess proceeds with her wedding. It is a quiet ceremony held in the local church.

Notes

The work of fate is clearly seen in this chapter. While Tess and Angel are shopping in town, Tess is recognized by a male acquaintance from Trantridge, who casts aspersions upon her character. Angel defends his future wife by striking the man, but the whole incident, right before the wedding, unnerves Tess and plants a seed of doubt in Angel's mind. The incident also convinces Tess to write a letter of confession to Angel, which she does that very night.


Fate also has a hand in the letter. When Tess slips it under Angel's door, it goes underneath the rug; therefore, Angel never sees it. When Angel is warm and kind to Tess the next morning, she reads it as a sign of his understanding and forgiveness and feels very relieved. On the morning of the wedding, she discovers the truth about the letter. She tears up the unopened envelope and rushes to tell Angel the truth in person. He refuses to hear any of her confession, stating there will be plenty of time for such things in their future.

Dismayed by the power of fate, a confused Tess goes through with the marriage ceremony. The honest and kind young woman worships Angel, almost like a god; but she feels terribly troubled that she has been unable to tell him about her tainted past, even though she has made two earnest tries to do so. Her troubled heart receives a further jolt after the wedding when she sees the D'Urberville carriage that will take them away and when she hears the cock crow. Hardy explains that when a cock crows in the afternoon it brings ill luck. Thus, the stage is set for a series of tragic events in Tess's life.

CHAPTER 34

Summary

After the wedding, Angel and Tess go to the D'Urberville mansion as planned. Tess is very upset by the mansion, especially the two life-size portraits of two female D'Urbervilles. Even though Tess tries to act happy and light-hearted betraying her true concerns, Angel regrets bringing his bride to the mansion. The marriage is not off to a good start.

In the evening, a package arrives that is addressed to Mrs. Angel Clare. Inside are diamonds and a note from Angel's father. Angel's godmother, Mrs. Pitney, had left the jewels to Angel for his future wife, who she knows will be noble. Once again Tess feels guilty and unworthy to be Angel's wife. When Tess puts the diamonds on, Angel says she is beautiful in them.

Jonathan Kail arrives from the dairy with their luggage and distressing news. Retty, one of the milkmaids, has tried to drown herself and Marian, another milkmaid, has been drinking heavily. Tess feels ashamed, for she knows that she is the cause of these actions; the women are miserable because they have lost Angel to Tess. Tess now feels more guilty and miserable than ever. The wedding day is turning from bad to worse.

Before retiring for the night, Angel talks to Tess about the importance of good morals and pure character. He then tells Tess that he falls short of his own ideals and confesses his affair in London as he promised he would do. He apologizes that he has failed to tell Tess about his past before the wedding, but he was afraid of losing her. Angel asks Tess to forgive him, which she gladly does. In truth, she is delighted that his confession is very much like the one she needs to make.

Encouraged by his confession, Tess tells Angel everything about her troublesome past. It is clear that Angel will not be forgiving like Tess has been. Everything seems to be colored by her confession. Even the diamonds on Tess's neck seems to give "a sinister wink like a toad's."

Notes

The wedding day is a total disaster for Tess. It begins with her finding the unopened letter of confession, followed by Angel's refusal to hear her out. The wedding takes place with Tess feeling terrible that she is marrying under false pretense. When she leaves the church with Angel, a D'Urberville carriage waits for them, reminding her of the past, and a cock crows, foreshadowing ill fate.

The D'Urberville mansion is upsetting to Tess, especially the large portraits of her two female ancestors. The news of Retty and Marian upset her further and add to her guilt. Angel also keeps saying how he hates impurity and insists in good morals. Ironically, for Tess the only good news of the day is her husband's confession about having an affair. She is relieved to know that he has sinned, much like herself. It makes her own confession much easier, and Tess feels certain Angel will easily forgive her, just as she has done him. Such is not the case. Angel is horrified at her confession. It is obvious that the news completely changes his feelings for his wife. It is the double standard at work in the worst way.

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