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Studyworld Studynotes
\Studyworld\ Studyworld Studynotes \ Tess of the D'Urbervilles:
Chapters 38, 39, and 40

Chapter 38

Tess is suddenly struck by the thought of facing her parents, and she asks a passerby who does not know her if there is any news from Marlott. He relays to her how her parents celebrated her wedding on their own, since they had not been invited to the gentlemanly affair, which makes Tess sick with sadness. Joan Durbeyfield is surprised to see her daughter, and soon Tess breaks down and confesses to her mother everything. Joan calls her a fool, but Tess says she could not help unmasking her deception out of her true love for him. Joan, as always, finally resigns herself to the fact that they must deal with the incident as best they can.
Her mother breaks the news to her father. She overhears her father questioning her honesty and Tess cannot take it anymore. If her own parents will not believe her, she can only expect worse from the other townspeople. She knows she cannot stay in Marlott.
A few days later, Angel writes to her saying that he is in North England to look at a farm. Tess uses it as an excuse to leave, and she gives half of the money Angel gives her to her parents, saying that it was to remedy the trouble and humiliation she had brought them. Tess leaves, and Joan hopes that all is resolved and that the two lovers have realized how miserable they are apart.

Chapter 39

Three weeks after his marriage, Angel pays a visit to his parents. As he walks, he thinks back to Tess, embittered that he did not turn her away when she revealed that she was a d'Urberville according to his principles. If he had left her then, their romantic dealings would have ended before any of this had happened. He had seen an announcement of land opportunities in Brazil, and the idea of a country with new ideals and beliefs attracts him.
He enters his home and encounters his mother, who is surprised that Tess is not with him. Angel relays that he plans to head to Brazil and since it is not safe for Tess to go immediately with him, she is with her parents temporarily until he sends for her. That night, they read a passage about a virtuous woman from the Bible instead of their usual evening reading. Angel is choked with emotion, but he does not reveal the entire truth to his mother, only saying that he and Tess have quarreled. His mother continues by saying that only Tess' background, which she assumes to be clean, is important; all else is secondary. This makes Angel even more miserable, knowing that Tess' background is not pure and that he has just lied to his mother. His blindness at seeing Tess' faults however blocks him from seeing any of her more superior qualities.

Chapter 40

The next morning, Angel makes his way to the bank to withdraw money and afterwards, he writes to Tess about his travels to Brazil. He then takes leave of his parents and goes to the Wellbridge farmhouse to pay rent for their stay there after their wedding. He comes across Izzy Huett, who is calling to see how he and Tess are. Angel tells her that Tess is not with her, and then he offers her a ride home. He is reminded that the girls at Talbothays used to have affections for him. He asks Izz if he had asked her to marry him instead of Tess, would she have said yes, and she replies enthusiastically in the affirmative. Energized by her earnestness, he asks if she is willing to go with him to Brazil, though they would be committing an immoral act. Izz does not care and agrees. However, she mentions Tess' superior love for Angel, which brings him back into reality, and he rescinds his offer to the disappointed Izz. However, what passing love he has for Tess goes away quickly, and his plans for Brazil go on undeterred. If he is right to scorn her at the beginning, time has not change his righteousness.

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Historical Context
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Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
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Chapters 10 and 11
Chapters 12, 13, 14, and 15
Chapters 16, 17, and 18
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Chapters 31 and 32
Chapters 33 and 34
Chapters 35, 36, and 37
Chapters 38, 39, and 40
Chapters 41, 42, 43, and 44
Chapters 45, 46, 47, and 48
Chapters 49, 50, 51, and 52
Chapters 53, 54, and 55
Chapters 56, 57, 58, and 59


 

 



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