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Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Phase the Fourth – The Consequence (Chaps 25 - 34). Overview. Develops the complex relationships between family, class, history, and gender Culminates in the double confession on the wedding night

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Tess of the D’Urbervilles


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    1. Tess of the D’Urbervilles Phase the Fourth – The Consequence (Chaps 25 - 34)

    2. Overview • Develops the complex relationships between family, class, history, and gender • Culminates in the double confession on the wedding night • Highlights Victorian double standards regarding sexual morality that reproduce systems of patriarchal oppression

    3. Class and family • Angel’s rejection of Tess and her passive acceptance of his judgement – rooted in their mutual idealization that is largely conditioned by class differences. • Culmination of earlier hints in the text of the tensions between Angel’s professed liberal-mindedness and his deep-seated conventionality • Use of irony to highlight Angel’s hypocrisy and subconscious class prejudices • Angel, who claims to hate old families, seizes on Tess’s d’Urberville bloodline as her social salvation, but later partly bases his rejection of Tess on this same bloodline

    4. Class and family • p.210: ‘the grand card’ (ie her bloodline)  recalls Mrs Durbeyfield’s conversation with her husband about Tess’s ‘trump card’ • Different assets that can be played in the matrimonial game • p.189: ‘Mistress Teresa d’Urberville’ • p.232: ‘Different societies, different manners. You are an unapprehending peasant woman… Decrepit families postulate decrepit wills, decrepit conduct.’

    5. Class and family • Dissonance between Angel’s professed and actual beliefs, his frustrated class aspirations  highlighted through the symbolic use of clothing • Class anxieties revealed in his response to the gift of godmother’s jewellery • p.220: ‘He remembered… His wife was a d’Urberville: whom could they become better than her?’ • Angel’s hypothetical remaking of Tess as a ‘woman of fashion’ decked out in evening wear instead of her peasant attire (p.220-1) • Recalls Angel’s gift of ‘a whole stock of clothing, from bonnet to shoes’ (p.206) for the wedding

    6. Class and family Angel’s visit to his family in Emminster • Setting – contrast between the Clares’ vicarage at Emminster and the Durbeyfields’ cottage in Marlott • Highlights the class and cultural differences between the two families • The Clares – middle class Evangelical Christians, serving the poor (ironically, those in a similar financial position as the Durbeyfields)

    7. Class and family • Use of free indirect discourse • shows Angel’s awareness of the way he is transgressing class boundaries in his relationship with Tess and his pride in this apparent sign of his freedom from convention • p.118: ‘The typical and unvarying Hodge ceased to exist.’ • p.154: ‘Whose was this mighty personality? A milkmaid’s.’ • p.156: ‘He loved her; ought he to marry her? Dared he to marry her? What would his mother and his brothers say? What would he himself say a couple of years after the event?’

    8. Class and family • Shifting narrative perspectives juxtaposed against each other to show the changes in Angel’s worldview and personality • p.158: ‘On their part they saw a great difference in him, a growing divergence from the Angel Clare of former times… He was getting to behave like a farmer.’ VS • p.168: ‘It was with a sense of luxury that he recognized his power of viewing life here from its inner side… and much as he loved his parents, he could not help being aware that to come [to Talbothays], after an experience of home-life, affected him like throwing off splints and bandages’

    9. Class and family • Angel’s conscious construction of an idealized image of Tess for his parents’ (and his own) consumption  assumes the right to remake her in his own image • p.164: ‘… while as to her reading, I can take that in hand. She’ll be apt pupil enough… She’s brim full of poetry… And she is an unimpeachable Christian…’ • p.189: ‘… after I have made you the well-read woman that I mean to make you’

    10. Class and family • Class assumptions reinforced by patriarchal power • Tess as a willing ‘blank’ upon which Angel imposes his aspirations  her assimilation of ‘his vocabulary, his accent, and fragments of his knowledge’ (p.175) • Her assumption of his intellectual superiority renders her incapable of resistance against his damning judgement of her after her confession

    11. Class and family • Marriage as a means of social advancement for women • Minor characters – function as a chorus (similar to Greek tragedy) providing different perspectives on the issue • The Talbothays milkmaids  recognize their commonality of experience with Tess and the unlikelihood of marriage to a man of Angel’s class • Tess’s continued identification with her fellow dairymaids – eventually drives her to making her confession.

    12. Class and family • The Clare and Durbeyfield mothers – reinforce class structures and attitudes towards sexual morality • Both attempt to socialize their children into accepting conventional gender norms and ironically reproduce the norms that hold women in subjugation • p.264: “Angel – is she a young woman whose history will bear investigation?... there are few purer things in nature than an unsullied country maid.’ • Mrs Durbeyfield  p.191: ‘Many a woman – some of the Highest in the Land – have had a Trouble in their time; and why should you trumpet yours when others don’t Trumpet theirs?’

    13. Class and family • Contrast between Tess and Mercy Chant  shows the extent to which marriage to Tess would go against the Clare family’s expectations • Symbolic name: indicates a Puritanical nature, an inhibition at odds with Tess’s natural sensuality

    14. Tess – duality, history and destiny • Repeated references to Tess’s D’Urberville heritage • Point to the weight of history that Tess cannot escape and that will determine her future – both her personal sexual history, and her family history • The wedding night - Symbolic setting • At Wellbridge, a farm-house which was once the manorial seat of the d’Urberville family (cf. ch1, p.9) • Highlights the decay of the D’Urberville family fortunes, and the duality in Tess’s character

    15. Tess – duality, history and destiny Use of foreshadowing • Portraits of the D’Urberville women literally hanging over Tess and Angel symbolic of a specifically female history that is oppressive and ominous (p.216) • Disturbs the notion of Tess’s ‘purity’ by drawing attention to those aspects of Tess’s character that parallel those of her ancestors • ‘Can’t be removed’ (p.217)  inescapability of history • Ominous references to the legend of the d’Urberville coach

    16. Tess – duality, history and destiny • Animal imagery  surfaces a wildness / potential savagery in Tess • Juxtaposed against the narrative’s original insistence on Tess’s essential innocence and goodness • Complicates the notion of Tess as a ‘pure’ woman • Reversal of the woman-as-prey / victim motif • p.169: ‘… he saw the red interior of her mouth as if it had been a snake’s’ • p.187: ‘the suspended attitude of a friendly leopard at pause’ • p.173: ‘All the girls drew onward…. the bevy advancing with the bold grace of wild animals – the reckless unchastened motion of women accustomed to limitless space – in which they abandoned themselves to the air as a swimmer to the wave’ (note: pun on ‘unchastened’)

    17. Tess – duality, history and destiny • Tess’s contradictory impulses towards self-abnegation and self-fulfillment are rooted in the conflict between the natural and the socially-conditioned • Natural imagery reminders of the equally strong opposing forces of social convention and natural impulse that Tess is caught in between, and that eventually destroy her • p.195: ‘… keeping back the gloomy specters that would persist in their attempts to touch her – doubt, fear, moodiness, care, shame. She knew that they were waiting like wolves just outside the circumscribing light…’

    18. Tess – duality, history and destiny • Water imagery  suggests the inexorable nature of desire • p.180: ‘Men had been cutting the water-weeds higher up the river, and masses of them were floating past her – moving islands of green crowfoot’ • p. 194: ‘Her feelings almost filled her ears like a babble of waves, and surged up to her eyes.’ • p.201: ‘The water was now high in the streams, squirting through the weirs, and tinkling under culverts; the smallest gulleys were all full’ • p.211: ‘the mastering tide of her devotion to him’

    19. Tess – duality, history and destiny • The difficulty of understanding Tess’s contradictory behaviour and personality is stressed using metaphors of reading and interpretation • p.175: ‘Clare… conned the characters of her face as if they had been hieroglyphics.’ • p.217: ‘Looking at her silently for a long time: “She is a dear dear Tess,” he thought to himself, as one deciding on the true construction of a difficult passage.’ • Use of shifting narrative perspectives  juxtaposes Tess’s subjective experience with Angel’s attempts to comprehend her

    20. Sexual morality • Angel’s narrative – framed by attestations of his virtue, morality and honesty (buttressed by quotations from both Christian and pagan – St Paul and Horace) • Deceptive apparent doubling that highlights the hypocrisy of the Victorian double-standard (p.224: ‘He seemed to be her double.’) • A symbolic silencing of the woman’s voice  narrative silence that obliterates Tess’s story while allowing Angel’s to be told in full

    21. Sexual morality • p.74: ‘An immeasurable chasm was to divide our heroine’s personality thereafter from that previous self of hers…’ • p.214: ‘… she you love is not my real self, but one in my image; the one I might have been!’ • p.228: “You were one person, now you are another.” Echoes other points in the text when Tess’s identity is tied to her chastity (or lack thereof):