Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Young Tess Durbeyfield attempts to restore her family's fortunes by claiming their connection with the aristocratic d'Urbervilles. But Alec d'Urberville is a rich wastrel who seduces her and makes her life miserable. When Tess meets Angel Clare, she is offered true love and happiness, but her past catches up with her and she faces an agonizing moral choice. Hardy's indictment of society's double standards, and his depiction of Tess as "a pure woman," caused controversy in his day and has held the imagination of readers ever since. Hardy thought it his finest novel, and Tess the most deeply felt character he ever created. (From feedbooks.com)
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Part 1 - Phase the First: The Maiden
Hardy's text was originally titled simply Tess of the d'Urbervilles. But he later revised the title and added the subtitle "A Pure Woman Faithfully Preserved." The structure and titles of the text are important. As you read, be sure to note both. It is also important to remember the intended audience for the piece: Victorians. Click on the link below to read an overview of the Victorian Era. (This annotation contains a link)
Why is Jack Durbeyfield confused?
How does Jack Durbeyfield's tone change after he is informed he is of "noble" lineage?
Durbeyfield's directions to the lad are ironic because he may be a descendant of nobility, but his noble line ceases to exist. There is no fortune to be inherited and nothing to be bequeathed onto his family. This further develops his character as foolish because he also proclaims he is now "Sir John d'Urberville." One cannot inherit the title of "Sir;" it is a title that is given to someone who is knighted. A person does not have to be of noble blood to be knighted (just ask Paul McCartney or Elton John).
The majority of the author's works are set in the fictional town of Wessex and the region surrounding it. The setting is an essential element to the development of characters, conflicts and themes in the text. This is the romantic influence in the text. Click on the link below to learn more about the Romantic Movement. (This annotation contains a video)
What is Tess wearing that distinguishes her from the other women dancing in the May Day celebration?
The dialogue between Angel and his brothers illustrates the social divisions between the educated and perceived elite versus the common, working people. The author addresses and examines the struggles between a person's natural inclinations versus unreasonable societal expectations through the use of natural imagery or interaction with the natural world. This genre is known as Victorian Realism.
Tess is the only woman that Angel fails to dance with at the celebration. What do you think this detail and the narrator's description that "he wished that he had asked her" foreshadow?
The author uses juxtaposition of the holiday and celebration outside Tess's home to highlight the "dreariness" inside her home. As you read, take careful note of her family structure and home life.
What is the cause for Tess's mother's mood?
Tess is upset because she knows that her father went to a public-house (or pub) to drink and not to feel better or prepare for his work tomorrow. What does this reveal about her father's work ethic and sense of responsibility?
The author uses a metaphor to describe the Durbeyfield children as captives of their parents. It is implies all of the following about the Durbeyfield family except which of the following?
The pub Tess's parents frequent is an illegal pub; it does not have the proper paperwork or licenses to sell alcohol. Basically the people would gather in someone's home and drink. Below is an image of a tavern or pub during the nineteenth century. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on her dialogue with her husband, what would Joan like to do about their newly discovered lineage?
Based on the dialogue between the Durbeyfields, we learn that they have plans for Tess to work for a wealthy "relative" and make a claim to some of the family fortune. However, they do not tell Tess about the plan but describe her as "tractable." Using the "Define" feature, look up the definition for tractable. What do you think this description implies about their feelings for Tess?
The phrase "don't get green malt in the floor" means "don't get pregnant before you are married." It is a warning to Joan Durbeyfield about Tess.
Why must Tess and her brother go and deliver the hives? How does Joan Durbeyfield feel about this?
The idea that Tess will marry a gentleman permeates throughout the entire family. This is evidence that Tess is relied on as source of stability both finically and morally for her family. This develops the emerging theme of exploitation. Please click on the link below to review the definition of emerging theme. (This annotation contains a video)
Throughout the text, the narrator juxtaposes two worlds: natural and modern. The newer mail cart rides "noiselessly" in the night and collides with Tess's rickety old wagon. This scene helps to develop and illustrate the theme of nature and modernity. It is also important because it illustrates a character flaw in Tess's character.
How does Tess react to the accidental death of her horse?
Is she a "murderess"? The simple answer is no. She had no intention of hurting Prince; she was obliging her family and fulfilling her duties as their daughter. But the combination of her family's greed and her guilt will lead her to acquiesce to her mother's desire for her to visit the d'Ubervilles in the neighboring town.
The author refers to John Durbeyfield as "Sir John" his character references his noble lineage constantly (and usually with error). This is a source of comic relief but it develops John Durbeyfield's character as well.
Based on the narrator's characterization of Tess, which term best describes her role in the family?
The Stoke-d'Urbervilles are not related in any way to the d'Urbervilles that Tess descends from. Remember in Chapter One that the parson told her father that the d'Urbervilles lineage had ceased to exist. The Stoke family assumed the name because of its once prominent reputation.
Why does Tess smile in Alec's presence?
Alec's character introduces the motif of the vanity associated with modern society. His name, his home, and the way he interacts with Tess all suggest a visage he wishes to present as opposed to his true nature. This also helps to develop the theme of modernity and nature. Please view the video below to review the function of motifs. (This annotation contains a video)
The narrator introduces the idea of fate in the final paragraphs of this chapter. What literary device does the author employ?
Tess is suspect about the letter she receives offering employment. This is a prime example of Alec's ability to manipulate and exploit Tess's situation to satiate his own needs and wants. This develops the theme of exploitation.
What causes Tess to accede to Mrs. d'Urbervilles invitation to work for her?
Themes of guilt, passion, and sin are intertwined throughout the text. Tess's guilt about the horse's death is utilized by Alec to fulfill his own pleasures. These themes are also developed by the motif of self-sacrifice. Due to her status in her family, her socioeconomic status, and her own guilt, Tess sacrifices much of her happiness for the sake of her family.
The narrator mentions Mrs. Durbeyfield's preoccupation with a suitor for Tess several times in the text. What commentary is the author trying to convey about marriage and society?
Which motif is illustrated in the dialogue between Tess and her mother?
Once again, John Durbeyfield demonstrates his ignorance and doltish character. He informs Tess that he is willing to sell his title to Alec. This is impossible because you cannot sell a title, John Durbeyfield has no title, and Alec is not a kinsmen to the Durbeyfields.
What sentiment does Joan Durbeyfield express to her husband after Tess leaves?
Alec uses innuendo when he speaks to Tess. Click on the link below for a complete definition of innuendo. Based on the link, which type of innuendo does Alec employ? To what end? (This annotation contains a link)
Tess relents to her mother's proposals, and she acquiesces reluctantly to Alec's advances. Which of the following responses is NOT a reason why she does this?
Alec feels he may treat Tess a certain way because of his wealth and status versus her status. This motif of status develops the several themes throughout the text. The author believed that the rural society was in decline and giving way to the influences of the more modern and urbane areas. Based on the interaction between Alec and Tess, do you think the author was in favor of the loss of rural values and society?
Based on Alec's temper, which term best characterizes his persona?
If Mrs. d'Urberville is blind, how was she able to write the letter? Does her blindness limit her from understanding the relationship between her son and Tess?
The highlighted passage is a prime example of the _________ to the Christian faith the author makes throughout the text.
This is an allusion to a poem by Shakespeare. Click on the link below to read the poem. What do you think Alec is implying? (This annotation contains a link)
Why does Alec hide behind the curtains and observe Tess as she whistles? What does it reveal about his character?
Tess enjoys outings with her friends, but she is also aware of appearance and how she is perceived. She does not walk alone at night for that reason. Sections in the text such as this one draw criticism from readers because it is as if the author is blaming Tess for the unwanted advances she receives. However, some believe that the author is simply trying to illustrate the flaws in society; Tess cannot walk alone because she is beautiful and men believe they can simply have her. Below is a video clip of a woman who walked through New York City for ten hours and secretly filmed the comments she received. Do you think society has changed greatly? (This annotation contains a video)
The narrator describes Tess as fearful of the unknown. This illustrates Tess's
Why would Alec wait for Tess though she informed him she would be walking home with her companions?
Why does Car single out Tess? Why does she wish to fight Tess though all others were laughing at her too?
The adage "out of the frying pan and into the fire" implies that Tess has left one terrible situation for a worse situation. What does this foreshadow about Tess's ride home with Alec?
What is the mood as Tess and Alec ride in the night?
What do you think Alec's tone is in the highlighted statement? Do you believe he is sincere?
What is Tess forced to do in this scene?
Alec remarks that he gave Tess's family a new horse, provided some toys for the children, and even gives Tess his jacket to keep her warm. Do you think any of Alec's motives are sincere? Do you think the author wants you to like Alec at all?
Though the author never uses the term "rape" to describe the sexual encounter between Tess and Alec, he uses the natural raw imagery of the "primeval yews and oaks" and the allusion to the biblical providence to intimate that the encounter was not consensual.
Based on the dialogue between Alec and Tess, why do you think Alec is surprised by Tess's departure? Use textual evidence to support your conclusions.
Tess's reaction to the sexual encounter leads some critics to question if she was raped or if she was seduced and is not upset that she allowed herself to be seduced by Alec. From a Victorian perspective, both result in an impure woman; there is no exception for rape, so the author does not have to clarify for his intended audience.
Throughout his conversations with Tess, Alec mentions her noble lineage in order to mock her or insult her. Which motif does this illustrate?
Christianity is a motif throughout the text. As Tess leaves Alec and is depressed about her life and status as "impure," she is reminded of her own fate. As you read, consider if the author is promoting Christian values or if he is denouncing them.
Joan Durbeyfield's primary concern is if Tess will be married because
What is ironic about the highlighted statement?
As you read this chapter, note the way Alec is portrayed in the community versus Tess. Why do you think people view Alec more sympathetically than Tess?
What are the parishioners whispering about Tess?
The natural imagery throughout the text symbolizes the adherence to rural and agricultural means as opposed to inclination to accept industrialized advancements. For more information about the industrial revolution, click on the link below. (Be sure to read about the "luddites.") (This annotation contains a link)
The narrator states that "one reason why she seduces casual attention is that she never courts it." The narrator implies Tess
Tess loves her child, but that love is juxtaposed with a "contempt" about how she became a mother. Once again, we see how Tess accepts responsibility for the actions of others; she is self-sacrificing.
What do the onlookers imply is the reason for Tess's rape?
When Tess's baby becomes ill, she no longer considers the social constraints she has broken by having the baby and raising the child proudly. She simply wants the baby to be okay.
It was believed that if a child died before he or she could be baptized, the child would not ascend into heaven but rather be in a state of "limbo." Though this is not an official term in the Christian faith, it is a belief that the child would remain in purgatory because he or she was not baptized and freed from original sin. For more information about "limbo," its origins, and its impact on today's Catholics, click on the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
What act does Tess perform herself in order to save her child from damnation?
What is the symbolic significance of the baby's name?
Which literary device does the author employ in the highlighted passage?
The author's use of personification conveys the idea that the baby's conception, birth, and death were not Tess's fault.
What do you think the author was trying to convey in the scenes between Tess and the Vicar? The Vicar does not help Tess, but he agrees that her baptism and burial of her child is "just the same" as a proper baptism and proper Christian burial.
Over the course of two years, Tess "changed from a simple girl to a complex woman." Which motif does this illustrate?
Tess moves on with her life and refuses to acknowledge her noble lineage any more. It is as if she believes that the status and expectations that accompanied the noble lineage lead to the loss of her purity and her sadness. Consider this as you read, how does Tess exemplify the theme of nature and modernity? (Hint: Review Romanticism)
Tess leaves her family because she believes that her presence may do more harm than good to her younger siblings. This illustrates the themes of guilt and sin.
Which theme does Tess entering into the Valley of the Great Dairies exemplify?
The highlighted passage is a prime example of the author's criticism of the Victorian era. Though societal expectations and constraints condemn Tess as impure, she does not allow this to define her indefinitely.
How does the author describe the dynamic between Tess and nature? What does this suggest about what Tess may represent?
The dairymaids would look something like the woman milking the cow in the image below. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following terms would NOT be associated with Tess's experience as a milk maid.
The milkmaids and other dairy workers enjoy a belief in primitive myths, chants, and stories. They are simple people, and Tess finds happiness living this simple life.
Who is the new man milking the cow?
A parson would be considered a clergyman in the nineteenth century social class hierarchy. This would mean that he was middle class and had many more opportunities available to him than the working class or the poor. So Angel's presence in the dairy farm is a anomaly; he did not need to perform manual labor but does so by choice. Click on the link below for a complete social hierarchy in nineteenth century England. (This annotation contains a link)
What type of characterization does the narrator use to describe Angel in the beginning of chapter three?
What does Angel mean when he says he loves "the Church as one loves a parent"?
Angel's character is used to introduce another element of modernity into the text. Unlike Alec who disregards the former social expectations and standards in regards to courtship, Angel refuses to adhere to the prescriptions of the Church's teachings. You need to decide for yourself if the author intends to criticize Christianity in addition to the social constraints of the Victorian era.
What does the narrator imply when he states, "The typical and unvarying Hodge ceased to exist"?
The changes Angel undergoes while working at the dairy farm are a feature of the Romantic genre of literature. In a romantic work people experience transcendence through their connection to nature. By relinquishing ties to his former life, Angel is enlightened.
What is ironic about Angel's initial impression of Tess?
The author's indirect characterization of Tess is as important as the direct characterization of her. Tess abides by rules and respects others' wishes. She does not intend to cause trouble or harm. This makes her a sympathetic character. View the clip below to review the differences between the two terms. (This annotation contains a video)
Why is the dialogue between Angel and Tess an example of dramatic irony?
The historical allusion to Peter the Great implies that Angel has vision and is planning a future beyond his prescribed status. He will not go on to own only a few acres, but an entire plantation.
Tess informs Angel that she has no interest in learning about history because it will only reveal that she is not unique. Do you agree with her attitude? Use textual evidence to support your response.
According to the dairy farm owner, Angel cannot stand the idea of "old families." Are you surprised by this? As you read, remember the characterization of Angel at the dairy farm: a man who does not care about social class distinction and expectation. He is a man searching for some meaning beyond what he knows and what he was taught.
Which textual excerpt exemplifies the Romantic genre?
It is important to note the author's use of natural imagery. In romantic literature, nature is a force as powerful as any other character; nature has the ability to transform the characters and help them to understand themselves and others in a different way.
The author alludes to the resurrection of Jesus. In the Bible, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. In the early morning hours Mary Magdalene and Mary (his mother) visited the grave site to discover that Jesus had risen. This indicates a somber and serene mood as Angel and Tess walk alone in the early morning. (This annotation contains an image)
To what degree is Angel attracted to Tess's persona as opposed to her physical beauty? In order to respond to this question, please review the names he uses to refer to Tess, how he views her in nature, and how he views her as she works.
As you read the folktale of Jack Dollop, compare and contrast the tale to Tess's past. How do they differ? How are they similar?
How does Tess's reaction to the folktale reiterate the themes of guilt and sin?
The silliness of Retty, Izz, and Marian are juxtaposed against the gravity of Tess's nature. This conveys the contrast between true innocence and lost innocence.
Why doesn't Izz believe Angel would marry any of them?
The author writes from a realistic point of view throughout the text. This is demonstrated in his use of mundane activities to develop a burgeoning love between Angel and Tess.
What is the impetus for Tess promoting Izz and Retty as potential wives for Angel?
Once again, the author employs natural elements to draw the characters together.
Which term best describes Angel's carrying the women over a puddle?
This is another allusion to a biblical tale. Click the link below to read a brief synopsis of the story. The obvious meaning of the allusion is that Tess is the most desirable of the four women. What else could this reference imply? (This annotation contains a link)
As readers, we know that Tess's convictions about not marrying Angel are sincere and have nothing to do with her fellow milkmaids or her own vanity. The other milkmaids do not know this. This is an example of which literary device?
Do you think Tess should care that Angel may marry someone else? If she truly believed that she would never marry because of her past, it shouldn't matter whom he will marry.
The author employs pathetic fallacy to represent the internal desire Angel has for Tess. This style is similar to which of the following texts?
Angel's acknowledgement of Tess's imperfection and her "humanity" is a relief. Until this point in the text, it seemed as if he was in love with a dream or fantasy rather than a real woman.
Why does Tess cry when Angel embraces her? Use textual evidence to support your conclusions.
Part 4 - Phase the Fourth: The Consequence
The titles of the parts of the text thus far are "The Maiden," "The Maiden No More," "The Rally," and now "The Consequence." These titles define parts of Tess's physical and spiritual journey. The titles are also indicative of the external forces that label the unfortunate series of events Tess must endure.
Which factor makes Angel question his feelings for Tess and his impulsive decision to admit his love to her?
What do you think are factors that should determine if you marry someone? One of the factors Angel considers is that Tess would make a good "farmer's wife." This reveals that Angel is not as impermeable to class distinction and societal expectations as he believes he is.
The narrator intimates that Angel does not want to consider Miss Mercy Chant as a potential bride because of her religious inclinations. What can you infer about Angel based on this evidence?
In literature, observations from other characters about a character's persona are equally as important as the character's own thoughts, spoken words, and actions. Angel's family acknowledges a change in his countenance, you may infer that his feelings for Tess are not superficial. Please view the video clip below to review how characters develop in a text. (This annotation contains a video)
The author uses ___________ in order to expose the diverging attitudes between Angel and his brothers.
In this scene, imagine the look on Mr. Clare's face and the tone of his response, "You cannot, if we did not." It is said flatly but with intent.
What is the underlying conflict between Angel and his father?
Angel is adamant that simply because someone attends Church, that does not make them a good person or a better choice for a wife. This is an honorable statement, but do you think Angel can handle the public scrutiny that Tess endured?
Do you think Alec has any redeemable qualities? Do you feel any empathy for him at all? Why or why not?
Ironically, Angel and his father are the most similar though their views about faith and marriage differ. Angel admires his father's devotion to his own passion and believes he emulates this quality.
There is something ethereal and yet very human about the way Tess is described after her nap. Find an image (either a contemporary photograph, and iconic image, or a classic painting) that captures this same expression. Please include a link to your image and a brief explanation of what qualities you believe both images share.
As you read the text, it is important to consider the historical context. In the twenty-first century, it is not romantic to propose to a woman by saying, "I need a woman who can cook. You can cook, so you will do." But in the Victorian era, a time period known for its conservativeness, this is an expression of appreciation and affection. He is basically stating that class doesn't matter to him, he simply wants Tess.
Tess cries when Angel asks her to marry him for all of the following except which reason?
Tess has the realization that she cannot escape her past. This validates her decision to not accept Angel's proposal.
The highlighted excerpt is important because it conveys the idea that Tess is a natural element in the text versus a constructed element. This is such an important part of the text and will help develop the themes of nature versus modernity.
Tess refuses Angel's proposal on the grounds that "it is only for your sake!" Which theme does this exemplify?
The author uses dramatic irony to build suspense. Because Angel does not know about Tess's past and her reputation, he reacts as if Tess is simply dramatic and playing hard to get. Characters who deny the truth usually fall the hardest.
What does the story of Jack Dollop and his second wife convey about the theme of love and trust?
Do you think Angel's persistence has anything to do with Tess's reluctance to marry him? Or do you think it is evidence of his unwavering love for her?
Tess's reservations about marrying Angel are all founded in the societal constraints that deem her unfit to be wed and impure. What does Tess's internal conflict symbolize?
Compare and contrast this scene between Angel and Tess with Tess's initial ride with Alec. Is Tess behaving "appropriately" on her ride with Angel? Is there a double standard at play here?
As you continue to read, be sure to note or highlight the passages that mention the interaction between the natural and the modern.
Does Tess trust Angel?
It is ironic that Angel claims that he loves Tess despite her d'Uberville lineage, yet he insists that she use her proper name because it will impress his mother and other influential people.
Which vow did Tess break?
Tess's parents are a source of comic relief. Rather than encouraging Tess to be honest with her fiancé, her mother tells Tess that better women have been in the same predicament haven't "trumpeted" their stories, so why should she "trumpet" hers?
What does the narrator imply about Angel's character when he states, Angel's love "could guard the loved one against his very self"?
Though we may sympathize with Tess, do you think she is partly to blame for what may happen when Angel finds out about her past? She doesn't lie to him but omits the truth. Isn't that just as damaging as a lie?
What do Tess's regrets illustrate about the motif of innocence?
Tess's trepidation about moving from the dairy and starting a life with Angel is warranted. She knows that part of their happiness is built upon their isolation from the societal conventions.
Tess's friends fascinated with the idea of Tess and Angel marrying. What do they symbolize?
The author's use of dramatic irony in this scene helps to characterize Tess. Because her friends do not know about Tess's past, they give their honest impressions of her. This is important because it reveals the flaws in the societal standards that Tess is judged by.
Do you think Tess exploits her employment? To what end?
Based on previous chapters, you have to question the validity of Angel's feelings for Tess. But it is also clear that based on Tess's reluctance to marry Angel and reveal her past to him, that she does not fully trust his love for her either. This illustrates the theme of love and trust.
What changes has Tess undergone due to her relationship with Angel?
In the Christian faith it is customary to publish or announce the marriage banns in the church or the church bulletin prior to the marriage. This is to allow anyone with objections or information (such as a first wife and family) to come forward.
Angel does not publish their wedding banns, he orders a dress and wedding accessories without consulting Tess, and prepares to live for a few months with Tess after they are married before introducing her to his family. What can you infer about Angel from this evidence?
Remember this event. It will play a significant role in Tess's future.
The title of this section of the text is "The Consequence." This implies that there will be a consequence for some action. Cite at least three examples of foreshadowing from this section of text about the consequence for Tess. Will she be happy or suffer?
Angel wishes to exploit Tess's lineage to benefit himself. This illustrates the theme of exploitation and also creates more sympathy for Tess's character.
The author uses the metaphor "mountain" to describe
What does the narrator's statement that Angel did not know "at the time the full depth of [Tess's] devotion" foreshadow
This is an allusion to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. This is a very ominous outlook on her future.
Click on the link below to read a poem by Thomas Hardy titled "The Well Beloved." The following question is based on the poem. (This annotation contains a link)
What theme does the poem express? How does it relate to Tess's current situation?
The portraits of the d'Urberville women are described in negative terms. What do you think these characterizations foreshadow?
As Angel stares at Tess, he realizes that "what I become, she must become. What I cannot be, she cannot be." What theme does this illustrate?
Read the letter from Angel's parents carefully. They sent the gift to "Mrs. Angel Clare" because they were bequeathed to "Mrs. Angel Clare" whomever she may be. This is not a personal gift or a welcome to the family.
There is a strong connection between Tess and nature or her natural state. When Tess appears in the jewels, Angel remarks that he prefers her in a "cotton-frock." If you were to view the text as a romantic piece, and Tess symbolizes the natural element, what does Angel symbolize?
The anecdote about the fates of Tess's friends are more foreboding omens about what will transpire between Angel and Tess.
Predict what will happen when both Angel and Tess confess their "sins" to one another. Support your conclusions using textual evidence.
Angel admits to having a fling with a stranger. This surely sullies his character, but Tess is willing to forgive. There are many questions that one could ask here: is Tess willing to forgive Angel because she seeks absolution? Does Tess need to be absolved? (Because that would suggest that she is somehow responsible for her rape.)
Which word accurately describes Angel in this scene?
Imagine if the person you loved looked you in the eye and said, "You are not the person I fell in love with." How would you feel? This statement is particularly harsh because there is nothing about her character or personality that is different.
What is ironic about Angel's reaction to the news of Tess's past?
How does the highlighted statement make you feel?
When Tess suggests she commits suicide, Angel responds, "I don't wish to add murder to my other follies." What does this imply Angel feels about the situation with Tess?
Though there may not be a physical resemblance between Tess and her ancestors, Angel sees a resemblance in their "treachery" and "arrogance." Is this a fair characterization of Tess?
The townspeople believe that the cottage is inhabited by a happily married couple and they are envious. This is an example of
The author forces the reader to define purity. He utilizes Angel's character to question the standard conventions about purity and impurity in the Victorian Era.
When Tess suggests that Angel divorce her, he responds by calling her crude. What does Angel's tone imply?
Tess feels responsible for this entire situation and therefore extremely guilty. Based on past experience, we know that Tess does not make the best decisions when she feels guilty. However, her feelings of desperation are not without merit. It was extremely difficult to end a marriage in the Victorian era without just cause and women rarely had cause to divorce their husbands. To read more about the status of women, marriage, and divorce in the nineteenth century, click on the link below. If you scroll down, there are some great primary resources and accounts. (This annotation contains a link)
Angel is not moved by Tess's tears because of a "hard logical deposit" in his soul. Do you think this may be considered a character flaw? Use textual evidence to support your explanation.
Why does Tess acquiesce and go along with Angel's plans to abandon her?
Tess is surprised at Angel's ability to suppress his feelings. Are you? Did the narrator intimate to the reader that Angel may have the ability to compartmentalize his feelings if they were in the way of achieving his goals?
What is Angel doing?
Angel is dreaming that Tess is dead. Tess plays along with it because he is behaving like the loving husband she want him to be. According to Freud, in our dreams are manifestations of thoughts and feelings we repress (consciously or subconsciously). Do you agree?
Using Freud's theories as a guide, what do you think Angel's dream and behavior after he lays Tess into the coffin reveal about his character? Do you think the dream is symbolic or is a manifestation of his repressed emotions? Use textual evidence to support your response.
Click on the link to Freud's psychological theories below and read the section titled "Dream Analysis." It will help you answer the next question. (This annotation contains a link)
Why doesn't Tess convey to Angel the previous nights happenings?
The overall mood of the text is somber. One of the characteristics of Victorian Realism is how things like marriage, education, and social status are limiting factors in people's live and bring them more misery than happiness.
Tess accepts her "punishment" from Angel and leaves him. How does this scene symbolize the dynamic between nature and modernity?
Do you think that Tess's pride and ego play a role in her feelings of guilt and shame? If so, what is the dynamic between the motifs of ego and vanity and the theme of guilt and sin?
What does Tess's mother imply about her confession to Angel and her "sin"?
Tess's parents are unsympathetic to her plight. They are more concerned with how this will be viewed by the community because they are d'Ubervilles. This illustrates the motif of vanity. Consider how they may have reacted if they never knew they were related to nobility?
This scene is pathetic. Tess is trying to avoid tarnishing Angel's reputation and trying to dispel her parent's belief that the marriage was a sham, so she gives them half of the money Angel left for her.
Using the Define feature, look up the meaning of the term "apostasy". What does Angel blame for his situation with Tess?
The idea of social class is reiterated throughout Angel's interactions with his family. It seems as if Angel is just as concerned about status and conventions as his family is.
The link below is to the Bible verse Angel's father references. (This annotation contains a link)
Who does the narrator blame for the rift between Angel and Tess and why?
Angel is internally conflicted about his relationship with Tess. This is evident by his behavior with Mercy Chant and by sending Tess money to insure she be taken care of. The question is: what is the source of his internal conflict - love or duty?
When Angel sees Izz, he assess her as "one who would have made as good, or nearly as good, a practical farmer's wife as Tess." What is this statement devoid of?
It may seem ironic that Angel is willing to completely defy convention by taking Izz as his "wife" in Brazil, but it reveals that Angel is not angry with Tess for betraying him but angry with societal constraints and conventions for betraying him.
Izz is rebuffed when she is honest with Angel and reveals that Tess loved him more than anyone could. The repetition of this scene is included to emphasize
"If he was right at first, he was right now." This is Angel's justification for denying his feelings for Tess and her love for him. Do you agree with Angel?
How does Tess's pride interfere with her happiness?
This is another example of how societal constraints and expectations bring people misery and pain. Tess is poor and alone and refuses to return home because of the embarrassment it would bring to Angel, to her family, and to herself.
What does the narrator's description of Tess traveling alone reveal about the status of women in the nineteenth century?
Tess finds solace in the woods. She is able to think and contemplate (unfortunately it is about suicide), but she is also unafraid of the unknown. When she is within the parameters of "humanity" or civilization, the unknown scares her but not within nature.
How does the sight of the wounded birds influence Tess's perspective?
A man refers to Tess as a "mommet" after she cuts off her eyebrows. This term means poppet or puppet. It is an insult.
In a text where the author challenges the conventional ideas of purity and class, do you think it is ironic that the author has Tess endure so many hardships? Use textual evidence to support your response.
Though Marian is a simple working class woman, she makes astute observations.
Why does Tess not reveal the details of her new employment to her parents?
Tess's work is awful and laborious, but it is also a distraction from what really causes her pain. Click on the link below to read a blog post about nineteenth century farm work for women. (This annotation contains a link)
Marian believes that she lost Angel, while Tess married him, so Marian suffers more. Which adage expresses a similar sentiment?
The constants in Tess's life are her love for Angel and her suffering. Is this fair?
How does Tess feel when she realizes who the owner of the farm is?
Why do you think Izz implies Angel's feelings about Tess rather than stating the facts that she knows?
Have you ever experienced something similar to Tess in this scene? It is the worst feeling in the world. Her love for Angel and her hope that he would return to her is her sustenance. When it is revealed that he asked Izz to run away with him, it crushes Tess and extinguishes her hope.
What precipitates Tess's urgency to write Angel a letter?
This is the most hopeful we have seen Tess since she left her home and found employment at the dairy.
What does Tess realize about herself and the Clares as she stands at their gate?
Once Tess hears the voice of Angel's brothers, she loses her nerve. It is as if their voices remind her of her status and the conventions that dictate she is impure.
What does the exchange between Mercy Chant and Angel's brothers reveal about their characters?
What does the highlighted excerpt imply about the speaker?
This is the second time the narrator implies that Alec's new calling is superficial; he does not practice what he preaches.
What is ironic about Alec's tone as he greets Tess?
Does Alec seem sincere? The author provides evidence to the contrary, so it is up to you to decide.
Why does Alec request that Tess keep her veil on?
We learn that Alec never knew Tess was pregnant with his child. Do you Alec would have reformed his ways much earlier in the text if he did know? Consider why the author did not inform his character earlier. How would that change the purpose of the text?
The relic is "a thing of ill-omen." What does this foreshadow about the relationship between Alec and Tess?
Alec's ferventness for preaching is noticeable diminished after seeing Tess once. This may be because he truly loves Tess, or it may be because his reformation was superficial. In either case, his pursuit of Tess is unrequited and will only cause her pain.
How does Alec's countenance change when Tess rebuffs his advances?
The dialogue between Alec and Tess is confusing because Alec's emotions dictate his actions. It is difficult to definitively state that he is in love with Tess and hurt and embarrassed by her denial of his advances or he is angered by her refusal to go with him and is determined to get what he wants. However, it is one of the few times in the text where we see Tess exert definitive free will.
How does Alec feel about Angel?
If Tess were to accept Alec's proposal, she would lead a better life, but at what cost? To society, she would be making a good choice, but she would lose her self-respect and dignity.
Alec describes Tess's mind as "enslaved" to Angel's. Which metaphor best characterizes Tess?
Consider some of the great romantic comedies of the past twenty years and think about the characteristics they share. View the clip from the final scene from "He's Just Not That Into You" and then answer the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
How do you think the plot would change if the text was written from a twenty-first century perspective?
What is the impetus that convinces Alec to abandon is spiritual path to pursue Tess again?
The struggle between Tess and Alec and between Tess and Angel is symbolic of the struggle between the natural world and in the introduction of modernity. This scene conveys the emerging dynamic between the two.
How does the introduction of the threshing machine impact Tess's job?
Click on the link below to see a compilation of scenes between Tess and Alec set to Kelly Clarkson's "Addicted." It is important to review the dynamics of their relationship prior to the final section of the text. (This annotation contains a video)
In which two roles does Alec characterize women?
Alec seems genuine in one regard: he does not like seeing Tess having to toil endlessly. He is annoyed that her husband would allow it and upset that he cannot exert his will over her.
The highlighted excerpt is powerful in many ways. What do you think it reveals about Alec's character? Why does he insist that Tess is his wife? Use textual evidence to support your conclusions.
Another motif that is developed throughout the text is the idea of choice. In previous chapters, Tess's choices were dictated by her feelings of guilt and responsibility. Now as she endures daily drudgery, she is motivated by desperation. Consider how her free-will is impacted by her emotional state.
In what tone does Tess speak to Alec on their walk back to her house?
The use of letters to tell a story in literature is known as writing with an epistolary style. The letters exchanged between characters reveal a first hand view into the characters' thoughts, hopes, desires, and fears.
Look up the allusion to the Bible parable of Abraham and Issac. What does the allusion reveal about the dynamic between Angel and his father?
Angel questions many things about his relationship with Tess, but it is evident that he believes his view (influenced by society) of morality may be skewed. If someone intends to be good, but accidentally causes harm, does that make a person bad?
What is the catalyst that changes Angel's mind about Tess?
The author juxtaposes Angel's recognition of his misjudgment of Tess and Tess's tempered anticipation of Angel's arrival in order to develop suspense in the text. Do you think Tess will have a happy ending?
What is ironic about Tess's father's belief that it is "wrong for a man of such a high family as his to sale and drive at common laboring work"?
There is nothing in Tess's home that makes her nostalgic. This is incredibly sad.
Do you believe in nature or nurture? Do you believe Tess has inherited any character traits from her family? Use textual evidence to support your response.
This is the second time Tess is compared to Eve. The first comparison was by Angel and now Alec. Eve is considered the most natural of all women but she is also considered a corruptor of men. Why do you think the author uses this allusion to describe Tess?
What does Alec use to exploit Tess?
When Tess thought her mother was ill, she believed that things would be okay because she could take on the maternal role in the family. But when Tess's father dies instead, this jeopardizes the entire family's security.
Why is Tess's family evicted from their cottage?
One may infer that Tess's fate is predestined to be terrible because she is a d'Urberville. In Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, he writes, "The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children."
With what tone does Alec say, "For that nice husband, no doubt"?
Alec implies that Tess's stubborn and headstrong nature is the source of her trouble. Though Alec is not designed to be a well-liked character, it is hard not to feel some empathy for him. He seems to sincerely care for Tess, but his ego impedes conveying this to her.
What does Tess lament on this page?
Ironically, Alec is more of a husband than Angel is. According to societal standards, Tess and Alec are united by their physical encounter; Angel and Tess are simply united by a license.
The damp and dreary weather is an example of
Alec stalks Tess. He exploits her. He argues with her. But he wants to take care of her. If you compare and contrast Alec and Angel, does Alec seem at all better?
Where do Tess and her family stay for the evening?
Is this a threat? Or is Alec genuinely (and rightfully) annoyed that Tess is so rude to him?
The letter Marian and Izz send to Angel demonstrates Tess's esteemed character.
How has Angel changed since he left?
Does Tess's mother has every right to be upset with Angel? Angel married her daughter and made a contract to be with her, and then he abandoned her.
What is ironic about Angel's belief that Tess's pride impeded her from asking his parents for money?
In a romantic text, characters undergo change or experience transcendence through their interactions or experiences with nature. As you read, note the changes in Angel after his experiences with Tess (especially after he has learned about what she endured since he left).
What does Angel do when learns about Mr. Durbeyfield's death?
In the discourse between Angel and Mrs. Durbeyfield, Mrs. Durbeyfield instructs Angel to cease looking for Tess and informs him that she is remarried. Angel acquiesces initially, but after thinking about Tess's letter, retorts that he would seek her because, "I know her better than you do." Do you think that either of the characters really understands or knows Tess? Use textual evidence from throughout the text to support your response.
Think about your answer to the previous question and read the highlighted passage. What do Angel's assumptions about Tess's new life reveal about what he thinks about her?
What does Tess taking Alec's name symbolize?
Tess blames Angel for her fate. Do you think this is a valid assessment? Or do you think that Tess is responsible for her marriage to Alec and the position she is in now?
From which point of view does the narrator relay the information about Tess and Alec from?
Tess blames Alec for his persistence and exploitation of her needs. This illustrates the author's point: the Victorian social conventions repress natural inclinations and cause suffering and sadness. In her attempt to conform, Tess married Alec and ruined her relationship with Angel. Do you agree with this assessment?
Tess's smile speaks volumes. It may be interpreted as an attempt to please Angel, it may be interpreted as a smile of relief, or it may be interpreted as a smile of pleasure. How do these interpretations impact your view of Tess?
Once again, Angel wonders if Tess's lineage is a factor in her behavior. The repetition of this idea is an example of what literary device?
Tess and Angel return to a natural setting away from society.
Angel claims that if Tess conveyed the story of his sleepwalking to him earlier, it would have "prevented much misunderstanding and woe." Do you think this is true? Use specific textual examples to support your response.
What is Tess fearful about?
Tess is well-aware that if she is caught, she will be executed. Keep this in mind as we reach the end of the text. What preparations does Tess feel she must make if she dies?
Here is a picture of Stonehenge. The mystery surrounding Stonehenge's origins resulted in a number of theories from ancient priests to aliens. It is known that when the Romans reached Stonehenge under the direction of Julius Caesar, the monument was standing for nearly two thousand years. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the significance of Tess and Angel arriving at the "heathen temple"?
Do you think it is odd that Tess wants Angel to marry Liza-Lu in the case of her death? Note that Tess views Liza-Lu as the untainted version of herself.
What is the "silver lining" Tess finds in the situation of her arrest and pending execution?
Liza-Lu and Angel leave Tess's execution, "hand in hand." This suggests that they will be together. As they leave, they drop their head in reverence as implied by the allusion to the painting "Two Apostles." The painting is below. (This annotation contains an image)