Study Guide

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

By Thomas Hardy

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

  • The chapter opens with Mrs. Durbeyfield's response to Tess's letter. Mrs. Durbeyfield thinks that on no account should Tess mention her "trouble" to Angel, since it was so long ago and not at all her fault, anyway.
  • Tess might not trust her mother's judgment in most things, but this piece of advice makes Tess feel better about her decision to marry Angel, and she's actually happy for a while.
  • It's October, and the custom among the country folks is that engaged couples can hang out as much as they want outside, without a chaperone.
  • So Tess and Angel wander around the countryside, holding hands and being all mushy.
  • One evening, they're sitting by themselves in the house. Everyone else is out working or on errands.
  • She cries out suddenly that she's not worthy of him.
  • And he says of course she is—the world's "conventions" about social status don't mean a thing, since she's lovely and pure.
  • Of course, that only makes her feel worse, since she feels that she isn't "pure."
  • He asks her what day they'll get married. He needs to start thinking about where to set up as a farmer, and he wants to get married before all that business stuff.
  • Tess gets nervous again as they discuss it, and she's sitting very close to him just as Dairyman Crick and Mrs. Crick and the other workers come in.
  • Tess is embarrassed to be caught so close to him, and jumps up with a blush and runs away.
  • Of course, Dairyman Crick doesn't care—and Angel announces that they're going to be married.
  • The Cricks are pleased to hear it.
  • The other milkmaids go upstairs to see Tess.
  • They're not angry with her, although Retty says she wants to be.
  • Tess gets upset again, and starts sobbing that he ought to marry one of them.
  • They calm her down again, and Tess resolves that she'll go against her mother's advice, and tell Angel her whole history. Not to tell him would seem wrong both to him, and to her friends.