Literature Study GuidesTess Of The DUrbervillesPhase The Third Chapters 22 24 Summary

Tess of the d’Urbervilles | Study Guide

Thomas Hardy

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Tess of the d’Urbervilles | Phase the Third, Chapters 22–24 : The Rally | Summary

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Summary

Phase the Third, Chapter 22

Dairyman Crick has received a letter in which a customer complains the butter has a tang, which he determines to be a result of garlic. He sends the workers out to find the invasive garlic weeds in the field. Angel has offered to help and "not ... by accident that he walked next to Tess." When they have a moment of privacy—afforded to them by Dairyman Crick who suggests she rest for a while—she draws his attention to the dairymaids Izz Huett and Retty Priddle. Bluntly Tess suggests he "marry one of them, if you ... want a dairywoman and not a lady; and don't think of marrying me!" She then keeps her distance from him.

Phase the Third, Chapter 23

It is July, and Tess has been at Talbothays for two months. She and the other three maids are going to Mellstock Church, three to four miles away. On the way they discover the road is flooded. They come across Angel, who pauses to look at the four women and offers to carry them across the water. He carries the first three across, leaving Tess for last in order to have time alone with her, unseen by the other girls. Afterward the others tease Tess; she admits to herself she loves him but tells the others she'll stay out of their way. However, it is obvious Angel is only interested in Tess.

In conversation Izz wonders about the woman Angel's family has chosen for him to marry. On hearing this Tess decides his interest in her is no more than fleeting.

Phase the Third, Chapter 24

July passes, and Angel is troubled by his interest in Tess, who is silent to him. One morning as Tess is milking her cow and looking far away into the meadow, Angel studies her at length and in detail. Moments pass, and suddenly he embraces her. He stops before kissing her and apologizes for not asking. He professes devotion to her. The cow, Old Pretty, is startled and lifts her foot to kick the milk. Tess starts crying. Angel explains his feelings, adding he won't press her if these feelings upset her.

Analysis

The growing attraction between Angel and Tess is so strong even Dairyman Crick notices. When the workers and Crick himself are scouring the field to find the garlic that has tainted the butter, Crick withdraws to give Angel and Tess time alone.

The pattern of Angel's attentions echo the pattern Tess experienced with Alec four years before. She steadfastly refuses the attention the male admirer continues to offer. The more she ignores it, rebuffs it, and avoids it, the more ardent the pursuer becomes. The significant difference here is the attraction is mutual; she is attracted to Angel and in love with him as much as he is with her. But the echoes of her former, disastrous encounter give this ostensibly positive romance a foreboding note.

However, realizing she loves him does not change Tess's reasons for avoiding marriage. At this point in her life, she is well aware women who are fallen are judged harshly. Avoiding marriage enables her to keep her past a secret. Additionally Tess's only sexual experience ended in tragedy. It is not unreasonable to infer her own experiences of trauma as a component of sexuality play a part in her refusal of Angel's affection. In any case, in "the interval since Crick's last view of them something had occurred which changed the pivot of the universe for their two natures," and the happiest period of Tess's life is about to end.

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