Tess of the d’Urbervilles

by: Thomas Hardy

Phase the Third: The Rally, Chapters XVI–XIX

Summary Phase the Third: The Rally, Chapters XVI–XIX

Tess’s assertion that the answers she seeks are not to be found in books indicates that she wants to learn directly from life experiences. Tess is ready to experience the world, and, of course, she has already made some mistakes as a result. Her assertion demonstrates that she wants to become knowledgeable and self-sufficient. In other words, she does not want to rely on anyone else. This independence contrasts with the way Tess’s mother used to consult the fortune-telling book for all her guidance. In the same way that Angel seeks to become independent from his family’s current legacy, Tess wants to become independent of hers.

These chapters fully introduce Angel into the novel. A great deal of narrative and an entire chapter are devoted to summarizing his recent accomplishments and family background. Given that Angel is introduced immediately after the saga between Tess and the ruthless Alec d’Urberville, the contrasts between these two men emerge vividly in these chapters. For instance, Angel has soothing, elegant conversations with Tess and gives her classical, idealistic nicknames like “Artemis” and “Demeter.” Alec, on the other hand, mocks her with demeaning words and low-society nicknames like “coz.” Through this juxtaposition, Angel appears an angel and a savior to the troubled but coping Tess.