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Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Tess of the D'Urbervilles


by Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D'Urbervilles Phase V: "The Woman Pays," Chapter Thirty-Nine Summary

  • Three weeks after the wedding, Angel goes to visit his parents again.
  • As he walks, he considers the last few weeks: all the philosophy he's ever read tells him that he shouldn't be disturbed by crises like this one, but he's pretty disturbed, anyway. How could he not be?
  • He blames the whole thing on the fact that Tess is a D'Urberville. Why didn't he abandon her when he found that out?
  • Now Angel is moving through life with a kind of passive indifference—he's just going through the motions, because he's incredibly depressed.
  • Of course his parents want to know why he's come without his wife.
  • He explains that she went to her parents' house, temporarily, while he goes to Brazil to see about setting up a farm there.
  • Mrs. Clare is curious about Tess, and asks Angel a lot of questions.
  • Angel gets agitated, especially when his father reads some Bible verses in praise of virtue in a wife.
  • He leaves the table early to go to bed.
  • His mother follows him after a few minutes, and asks him what's wrong. She guesses pretty easily that he's had some kind of quarrel with Tess.
  • She asks if it has something to do with her past, but Angel replies, lying through his teeth, that Tess is "spotless."
  • The narrator points out that the real trouble was not with Tess, but with Angel, and his limitations. He's bound by conventional ideas about purity and virtue, and ignores Tess's innate purity because of the "stain" of her history.

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