Study Guide

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

By Thomas Hardy

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

  • Tess still hasn't named the wedding day by the time November rolls around (note that it was traditional for the woman to name the day of the wedding after agreeing to get married).
  • It's calving season, and Tess and Angel walk together between the cow hospital, where the calves are born, and the dairy.
  • Angel points out that, with calving season, there are fewer cows to milk (the cows give all their milk to the calves), and so she won't be needed at the dairy anymore.
  • He suggests that they get married at around Christmas, and she agrees.
  • When they get back to the house, they tell the Cricks, and they are congratulated appropriately.
  • Tess still feels anxious, and wants to tell him everything before they're married, since she thinks that a man like Angel wouldn't appreciate being told after the fact.
  • She writes to her mother asking for advice on this subject, but her mother already said her piece, and doesn't respond.
  • The date they agree upon is December 31—New Year's Eve.
  • One Sunday, about three weeks before the wedding, Izz Huett comes home from church and tells Tess that her name hasn't been read out.
  • Historical Context time:
  • Back in the day, it was traditional for a proposed wedding to be announced three Sundays in a row at church before the ceremony. That way, if anyone knew of a reason why the couple shouldn't marry, they'd have a chance to get their say in. This tradition was called "reading the banns," or "publishing the banns."
  • And that's why Izz thought it was important to tell Tess that the banns hadn't been read that Sunday: because now there would only be two Sundays left until the ceremony, instead of the required three.
  • But Angel says that he didn't want to have a big public ceremony, anyway, and that he'd just applied for a marriage license, instead. It would be more private that way.
  • Tess is relieved—if anyone knew about her history and saw or heard the banns, they might say something.
  • The next question is about her wedding clothes—should she wear her best white dress, or should she buy something new? Before she's able to ask Angel, he presents her with a package. He'd ordered a whole new outfit for her, down to gloves and shoes. It's not all that fancy, but it's nicer than anything she's ever had.
  • She's very grateful, and goes to try it on, but can't seem to shake her sense of dread.