Study Guide

Tess of the D'Urbervilles Phase I: "The Maiden," Chapter Eight

By Thomas Hardy

Phase I: "The Maiden," Chapter Eight

  • Alec drives Tess up the first hill as they leave Marlott, "chatting compliments" to Tess as they go (8.1).
  • Tess is rather nervous in carriages ever since the accident with Prince, so she asks Alec to go down the hill slowly.
  • Alec says he likes going down quickly, and is surprised that Tess doesn't.
  • When Tess persists, Alec says that Tib (the mare) is a wicked horse, and does what she wants—he can barely control her sometimes.
  • So the horse bolts down the hill (Alec probably encouraged her), and Tess clutches at Alec's arm.
  • Alec cries out for her to hold his waist—clutching his arm interferes with his ability to control the horse.
  • She's pretty angry when they reach the bottom, and lets go of him.
  • When they reach the top of the next hill, he takes off again.
  • She clutches the side of the carriage this time, to avoid touching him.
  • He tells her that he'll stop if she allows him to kiss "those holmberry lips" (8.29).
  • Tess is surprised and pulls away from him as best she can, and he rocks the carriage even harder.
  • She miserably agrees, but dodges at the last minute.
  • He's angry, and swears he'll break both their necks if she goes back on her word like that.
  • Tess agrees again, but complains that she thought he was going to protect her, as her "kinsman."
  • Alec (who, as we know, isn't her kinsman at all) insists on the kiss.
  • Tess doesn't want to be kissed, but allows it anyway. But as soon as he's kissed her, she rubs her cheek with her handkerchief.
  • Alec is annoyed that she felt the need to wipe it off, so when they reach the top of the final hill, he threatens to race down it unless she allows him to kiss her again, and not to wipe it off.
  • Tess starts to agree, and then her hat blows off. She asks to climb down to get it.
  • Once she's down, she refuses to climb back up, even though it's still five or six miles to Trantridge.
  • Alec suspects that she let the hat blow off on purpose. She doesn't answer.
  • He scolds her and calls her names, and she yells at him for using bad words, and tells him she hates him, and will go back to her mother.
  • Alec cheers up in response, and offers to allow her back into the carriage without pressing her for any more kisses.
  • She doesn't trust him, even though she probably could at this point.
  • So she walks the rest of the way to Trantridge, and Alec walks the carriage along beside her.
  • She considers going back home to her parents, but is afraid that she would seem wishy-washy.