Study Guide

Tess of the D'Urbervilles Phase II: "Maiden No More," Chapter Fifteen

By Thomas Hardy

Phase II: "Maiden No More," Chapter Fifteen

  • Tess stays in her father's house in Marlott through the winter, making money doing odd jobs around the village, and turning the fancy clothes Alec had given her into good working clothes for her brothers and sisters.
  • Tess takes note of dates as they pass—the date of her rape in The Chase, the birth and the death of the baby.
  • Then she begins to think about her own death. On what day of the year will it occur? Will it be on a crisp October morning, or a sunny June afternoon?
  • These meditations make Tess's already complex character even more complicated.
  • Tess had stayed out of the way of most people since her "trouble," and since more than a year has passed, most people in Marlott had almost forgotten about it.
  • But Tess knows that she'll never be really comfortable again in the place where she had known such tragedy.
  • She wants to escape the past, but knows she can't, so she resolves at least to escape her hometown.
  • It's a fine spring, and Tess is chomping at the bit—she wants out of there.
  • Her mother happens to receive a letter from an old friend of her mother's—it's from a dairy farmer who's looking for a good dairymaid to come and work for him during the summer.
  • It's not all that far away, but Tess decides that it's far enough, since she wasn't known outside of the Vale of Blackmoor and Trantridge.
  • Tess doesn't want anyone at the dairy to know about her D'Urberville heritage. It's brought her nothing but trouble in the past, and she's embarrassed that her father has gotten so ridiculously snooty about it.
  • But the dairy where she's going to work is actually very close to the ancient estate of the D'Urbervilles, her ancestral lands.
  • Tess perks up at the prospect of leaving her troubles behind her.