Study Guide

Tess of the D'Urbervilles Phase IV: "The Consequence," Chapter Thirty-Four

By Thomas Hardy

Phase IV: "The Consequence," Chapter Thirty-Four

  • Angel has rented an old manor house that used to belong to the D'Urbervilles for their wedding night.
  • The house is pretty dilapidated, and an old woman from a neighboring cottage has been hired to come over and bring them meals, and make sure there's a fire going when they get there so that they won't freeze.
  • The woman has left them what they need, and they're happy to have the house to themselves.
  • The house is full of old portraits of the D'Urbervilles, and Angel can see the family resemblance to Tess.
  • As they eat their supper together, Angel reflects on how dependent she is on him, and swears to himself that he'll never betray her trust.
  • After a while it starts to rain.
  • Their luggage had been sent separately, and they're surprised that it hasn't arrived yet.
  • When they hear a knock on the door, they assume it's old Jonathan with their luggage, but it's not—it's someone delivering a package.
  • Turns out Angel's godmother had left some jewelry in his mother's keeping, to be given to Angel's wife if he should ever marry. So the package contains a set of diamonds.
  • She tries them on, and looks totally gorgeous.
  • Then, finally, Jonathan arrives with their luggage.
  • Angel asks why he's so late, and he explains:
  • It's because Retty Priddle tried to drown herself that afternoon. She was found in time, though, and will be okay. And Marian was found dead drunk in a gutter somewhere in the next town.
  • Izz is okay, but very depressed.
  • After Jonathan leaves, Angel says that he's sorry that Tess should have heard the bad news about the girls on what was supposed to be the happiest night of her life.
  • Then, suddenly, Angel reminds her that they had promised to tell each other their faults after they were married.
  • He says that he has something to confess, and wants her to forgive him, and not be angry that he hadn't told her before.
  • She's shocked—he's saying exactly what she wanted to say.
  • He tells her that although he has a problem with the way the church is organized, he's a stickler for good morals. So he's been beating himself up for this for a long time. But the long and short of it is, he was really depressed this one time, and went to London, and had a brief fling with some strange woman.
  • But he never did it again. He realized that it was wrong, and went home, and never talked to her again.
  • Of course Tess forgives him, and says she's actually kind of glad about it, because she wants to confess something, too.
  • He says that it can't be more serious than his offense, and she gets hopeful: maybe it isn't, and he'll be able to forgive her, after all.
  • So she sits next to him, and holds his hand, and tells him all about it.