Literature Study GuidesTess Of The DUrbervillesPhase The Fourth Chapters 27 29 Summary

Tess of the d’Urbervilles | Study Guide

Thomas Hardy

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Tess of the d’Urbervilles | Phase the Fourth, Chapters 27–29 : The Consequence | Summary



Phase the Fourth, Chapter 27

Angel returns to the dairy where he sees Tess just waking from a nap. He is fervent in his admiration. He entreats her to call him his name rather than "Mr. Clare." He proposes to her, but she says she can't marry him. Angel attempts to understand why, asking if she loves him and if she's already engaged. She confirms she loves him and is not promised to anyone else. Tess, trying to avoid the subject, says his family wouldn't approve. They discuss religion as Angel tries to clarify if she is high or low Church; the issue is of little interest to her.

Angel accompanies her to skim the milk. As they talk he tells her the story of his father's encounter with d'Urberville, simply meaning to show his father's depth of piety. Tess's face grows worn as he speaks; when he asks again if she'll marry him she refuses.

Phase the Fourth, Chapter 28

Angel continues to pursue Tess, deciding her objection is coyness or otherwise temporary. Tess continues to object, saying she is not good enough and her refusal is for his own good. Eventually he accuses her of being a flirt. Tess breaks down and says she'll explain herself on Sunday. She is tempted, she loves him, and she is wearing down. The chapter closes with her lamenting she cannot help but give in to him.

Phase the Fourth, Chapter 29

Dairyman Crick picks up the story of Jack Dollop again. Jack married a widow, who didn't tell him until after the marriage her money would end when she got married. They all discuss it. Tess is, again, emotional about the story of Jack Dollop. "I think she ought—to have told him the true state of things—or else refused him—I don't know." Angel, seeking Tess out, suggests that the "tremulous lives" they both lead are very different from the other dairy workers around them. She counters that most women's lives are tremulous and that there is more to the other milkmaids than he gives them credit for. Angel volunteers to drive the milk to the station and asks Tess to join him.


Angel's pursuit of Tess grows more persistent, especially after telling his parents about her. He is resolved she will be his wife, and to his way of thinking there is no objection she can raise to negate his love for her and his decision to marry her. Tess is as powerless here as she has been for all of her life. She has tried consistently to refuse Angel's affections and his intent to marry her, but she cannot convince him to stop pursuing her. She cannot leave her job. She cannot change her past. There is nothing she can do but continue to refuse, and the Cricks seem to conspire to keep Tess and Angel in each other's path. Even her attempts to steer Angel to another woman result in nothing. It's worth noting that, for all of Angel's professions of love, he seems oblivious to her discomfort or to the internal conflict he causes. He isn't a rapist like Alec, or neglectful and selfish like Tess's parents, but his overinsistence on having his way—not making Tess happy—makes him part of the problem, not a solution.

In the same story of Jack Dollop continued here, Tess is aware of its personal significance. She notes the right thing to do is share secrets before the wedding. The repeated references to Jack Dollop and the dishonest circumstances around his marriage mirror Tess's own dilemma and foreshadow the disaster to come. It is also an opportunity to reaffirm Tess's morality: she is aware of the "right thing" and she sets forth to do it. Readers may find it useful to remember Tess at this point is still only 20. She faces the difficulty of admitting to something she knows will result in harsh judgment, but she is barely more than a child with no experience.

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