The irony and hypocrisy of Angel's reaction are indicated by the title of this section. It is a classic statement of society's double standard, which judges men's sexual behavior leniently and punishes women for the same behavior.

Why is Angel unable to forgive her when she just bestowed the gift of forgiveness on him? Is her sexual experience the cause or his character and misconceptions? Does her confession necessitate their separation, or do they part because of particular traits each has? Could Tess have averted the parting by behaving differently and thereby changed her destiny? Or is her destiny unchangeable? Is she victim, self-victimizer, or both?


Tess's confession destroys Angel's idea of Tess as a virginal, simple child of the soil; as a result, he cannot see, let alone appreciate, the vital, loving Tess before him. Preferring his fanciful love, he is "smothering his affection for her" (page 231). At the same time that he is disappointed in his vision of her innocence and lowly status, Angel blames her for the family background which he previously thought would make her acceptable to respectable middle class society; he is self-contradictory because his rejection of society's values is superficial; at a deeper level, he still believes in society's moral laws and social code.

Nevertheless, he does love Tess. His grief in laying Tess in the stone coffin clearly expresses his love; this action also symbolizes his belief that his beloved, really his ideal of his beloved, no longer exists. Earlier in the evening he is torn by the desire to follow her to their bedroom. He is stopped by the portraits of the evil-looking d'Urberville women, who resemble Tess. Is chance or even a malevolent fate operating in this incident? Or is Hardy indulging his taste for melodrama and carrying coincidence too far?

Rejecting Tess at this point causes Angel's face to assume a "terribly sterile expression" (page 236). Thinking and clinging to society's values cut him off from nature and, of course, Tess; he has just come from the lush, fertile Froom Valley where the appetite for joy carried him along, yet now he is "terribly sterile." Choosing intellect over nature or the instinctive/emotional life destroys the life force; Angel "was becoming ill with thinking; eaten out with thinking, withered by thinking; scourged out of all his former pulsating, flexuous domesticity" (page 244). The repetition emphasizes the importance of this idea and expresses the intensity of Hardy's feelings about Angel's intellectuality.

Hardy offers a somewhat contradictory judgment of Angel's reliance on the mind: "Some might risk the odd paradox that with more animalism he would have been the nobler man. We do not say it. Yet Clare's love was doubtless ethereal to a fault, imaginative to impracticability" (page 246). Though Hardy is reluctant to say that being more open to the physical or sexual would make Angel a better man, he is critical of Angel's over-reliance on abstractions and imagination.

As Angel watches Tess's coach slowly move up the hill, he hopes that she will look back at him. Too devastated to move, she does not look out. Is this one more lost opportunity for reconciliation? If so, is the force of circumstances against them?


Angel's rejection pains Tess deeply; nevertheless, she remains "Throbbingly alive" (page 238) and still has the potential to recover and flourish. Emotionally she is still in touch with natural drives. Angel, on the other hand, is cut off from nature by his intellect and his acceptance of society's moral code; hence, he is sterile.

Guilt-ridden, Tess submits to his anger and, except for a few arguments, takes no action to win him back. Because he is smothering his affection for her, a determined effort might win him back. She passively hopes that being in her physical presence in the same place will win him around, and she says, "I have no wish opposed to yours" (page 241). Is her submissiveness only a response to his rejection? Or are her personal traits–like passivity, a sense of responsibility, and a sense of guilt–also working to defeat her chance of happiness?

She allows the sleepwalking Angel to carry her and is willing to let him kill her. Is more than passivity involved in this incident? Does Tess has a self-destructive tendency? Before the wedding ceremony, she is moved by the desire to belong to Angel and "then, if necessary, to die" (page 213). She is deterred from committing suicide on their wedding night, she says, lest the resulting scandal reflect badly on Angel. Is it self-destructiveness that keeps her from telling Angel about his sleepwalking? Does she over-identify with his feelings and interests rather than consider her own? Or does her concern for the anger, grief, and loss of dignity he would feel if he knew explain her silence?

Tess makes it easy for Angel to leave her. It is she who suggests that she can return to her parents' home; Angel did not think of this possibility. When Angel asks if she is sure, Tess does not express her own feelings but gives the reply she thinks he wants, "Quite sure" (page 246). Hardy stresses that a determined appeal and activity could have won Angel back:

If Tess had been artful, had she made a scene, fainted, wept hysterically, in that lonely lane, notwithstanding the fury of fastidiousness with which he was possessed, he would probably not have withstood her. But her mood of long-suffering made his way easy for him, and she herself was his best advocate. Pride, too, entered into her submission–which perhaps was a symptom of that reckless acquiescence in chance too apparent in the whole d'Urberville family–and the many effective chords which she could have stirred by an appeal were left untouched. (Page 255)
This passage merits close reading. What does the phrase "fury of fastidiousness" reveal about Angel's state of mind and feeling? What traits make Tess so submissive? Are they all personal, or do they traits include inherited from her ancestors?

Does Tess's behavior suggest a pattern of self-sacrifice? For instance, does it appear in her decisions concerning her family's welfare? (She gives them half of the £50 Angel gives her for a new roof, as well as money for later emergencies.) Or do you agree with J. Hillis Miller, who sees in Tess "a suicidal passivity, a self-destructive will not to will"? Does Hardy have in mind a willingness to sacrifice herself for others when he associates her with "Apostolic Charity herself" (page 243) [Apostolic: of Christ's apostles, their teachings, faith, or times; Charity: in Christianity, the love of God for human beings or their love for one another]. Does a tendency to self-sacrifice motivate any of her behavior with Angel?

Is she a victim of circumstance, of inevitable fate, of Angel's character, of her own character, of her heredity, or some combination of these factors?


The failure of her wedding journey to the d'Urberville manor marks the beginning of Tess's decline, which proves to be continuous and irreversible. She is humiliated by how her reappearance in Marlott looks to friends and neighbors. There is no longer a place for her in the family home; not only is her bedroom occupied by her siblings, but her father doubts whether she is really married. Tess's isolation deepens. Her social and economic status decline with the temporary jobs she takes. They become more physically demanding, and she suffers poverty. Pride prevents her from letting either her parents or Angel's parents know of her financial difficulties. She is completely alone.


Phase the First: The Maiden
  Chapters 1-11, pages 1-73
Overview of Hardy
The Opening
Tess's Personal Traits
Tess and Alec
Phase the Second: Maiden No More
  Chapters 12-15, pages 74-100
Rape or Seduction?
Phase the Third: The Rally
  Chapters 16-24, pages 101-152
Nature and the Froom Valley
Phase the Fourth: The Consequence
  Chapters 25-34, pages 153-227
Tess and Angel
Phase the Fifth: The Woman Pays
  Chapters 35-44, pages 228-307
Tess and Angel Part
Phase the Sixth: The Convert
  Chapters 45-52, pages 308-372
Alec Again
A Pure Woman
Phase the Seventh: Fulfillment
  Chapters 53-59, pages 373-405
The Ending
May 14, 2009