Study Guide

Tess of the D'Urbervilles Phase V: "The Woman Pays," Chapter Thirty-Eight

By Thomas Hardy

Phase V: "The Woman Pays," Chapter Thirty-Eight

  • Tess's carriage pulls up to the gate of the village of Marlott, and she asks the turnpike-keeper if anything's new in the village.
  • He says that John Durbeyfield's daughter recently got married, and that "Sir John," as the villagers now call him, honored the occasion by getting drunk at The Pure Drop tavern and buying drinks for his neighbors.
  • This is obviously not very cheering news for Tess—she doesn't know how she's going to be able to face her family.
  • She decides it would be easier to approach the house on foot, so she leaves her luggage at the turnpike-keeper's house and walks into town.
  • An old friend meets her in the street, and asks where her husband is.
  • Tess answers that he's away on business, and goes into her parents' house.
  • Her mother is surprised to see her (obviously), and asks if she were married, and where her husband was.
  • Tess says that he went away, because she told him what had happened.
  • Her mother is furious, and calls her a fool.
  • But her mother's anger doesn't last long—she's so chill that she calms down and takes a "whatever happens, happens" attitude about it.
  • Her father soon gets home. He's been drinking at Rolliver's and bragging about his daughter's fine marriage.
  • Mrs. Durbeyfield tells him that Tess is home, and that Angel has left her.
  • Mr. Durbeyfield is pretty depressed about it, because he knows that they'll laugh at him at Rolliver's.
  • He asks if Tess is actually married this time, or if it's like before, with Alec.
  • Tess overhears all this from upstairs, and decides that if her own parents can doubt her word, she won't stay there for long.
  • Tess gets a letter from Angel the next morning, saying that he is going to look at farm in the north of England.
  • She uses that letter as an excuse to leave, and they all assume that the letter was asking Tess to join him.
  • She leaves half of the fifty pounds of cash that Angel had given her to her parents, and leaves their house.