Study Guide

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

By Thomas Hardy

Phase I: "The Maiden," Chapter Seven

  • Tess wakes up early the day she is supposed to set out for The Slopes.
  • Her mother insists that she wear her finest dress, and Tess objects that she's going to work, not for a holiday.
  • Her mother presses her, and Tess finally agrees to let her mother dress her in any way she sees fit.
  • Her mother washes and dries Tess's hair so that it's all soft and fluffy, and ties it back with a big pink ribbon.
  • The narrator tells us that Tess's huge hair, combined with her… ahem, other assets—make her seem older than she is.
  • Her mother is very pleased with how pretty Tess looks.
  • Tess says goodbye to her father, who tells her that he's willing to sell the other branch of the family the rights to the family name for a thousand—no, a hundred—no, for fifty—okay, fine, for twenty pounds.
  • Tess feels rather bitter as she turns to leave.
  • Her mother and some of the younger children walk with Tess to where she's arranged to meet the cart.
  • Tess is about to climb into the cart when they see a second one coming. This one is a fancy two-person carriage, driven by—you guessed it—Alec D'Urberville himself.
  • Tess is hesitant to climb up with him—she would have preferred the plain country cart that is carrying her luggage. But, after a moment's hesitation, she climbs in with him.
  • As soon as Tess is out of sight, the younger children start to cry. Even Mrs. Durbeyfield tears up.
  • That night in bed, she expresses her misgivings to her husband—maybe, she thinks, she ought to have looked into the young man's character a bit before trusting her daughter with him so far from home. But then she comforts herself with the thought that "if he don't marry her afore he will after" (7.38).