Tess of the D'Urbervilles Tess of the D'Urbervilles discussion


101 views
What is Angel's intention for not answering Tess's critical question?

Comments Showing 1-17 of 17 (17 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Mimi (last edited Mar 18, 2013 10:06AM) (new)

Mimi I have been wondering for a while, what is Angel's intention for not answering Tess's critical question whether they will meet again after death. Tess took it as no, and so as I. How cruel is he, to destroy Tess's last hope altogether? (Oh, I hate Angel, and I hate Tess for blindly loving him so much who is not worthy of her. )

My question was, did he mean,

"There is no spiritual world after death. " Or

"She is going to different spirit world than he is, because she is a sinner, and he is not."

Can you share your interpretation on that?


Silverpiper At that point I think he didn't want to meet her after death because he felt betrayed. I don't believe it was directly indicative of his beliefs about the afterlife.


message 3: by Mimi (last edited Mar 19, 2013 12:18PM) (new)

Mimi Silverpiper wrote: "At that point I think he didn't want to meet her after death because he felt betrayed. I don't believe it was directly indicative of his beliefs about the afterlife."

"He didn't want to meet her after death." Wow, good point. So you mean, "he felt betrayed", because she cheated on him? If so, he didn't really forgive her for returning to Alec and he helped her just for pity???


message 4: by Silverpiper (last edited Mar 20, 2013 02:42PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Silverpiper I need to revise my thought after re reading this passage as it has been many years since the original reading.
I realize that I had my timelines mixed up. Angel doesn't give her an answer simply because he still hopes to avoid her eventual capture and death.

"he kissed her to avoid a reply at such a time"

I actually think Angel grew enough as a person to realize that Tess had done nothing that required him to forgive her. She did not ask to be raped or to be abandoned by Angel. He was sincere at the end but it was too little too late.


Emily Stoker I believe he stays silent as Angel doesn't believe in a heaven because of his reading into evolutionary science, he has already rejected a God. I think that by the end of the novel he has realised how unfair he has been to Tess, he no longer feels betrayed he is remorseful and in addition by her murdering Alec she has shown her love for him. However I also think that he is cautious of her, doesn't want to upset her before she is eventually taken away and therefore does not state that there is no heaven for him. I think he wishes to be sensitive towards her as well as spend the time before her inevitable capture hoping somehow it to be avoided, like said above.


message 6: by Angie (last edited Apr 12, 2013 12:35PM) (new)

Angie If Angel thought of her as a sinner or a terrible person, then he didn't change.

At that point, Angel would have been a more comprehensive man and accept that he had some fault of Tess' actions, he would have understood that he loved her and also she did.


message 7: by Mimi (new)

Mimi Silverpiper, Emily, and Angie, thank you for sharing your opinions.
I kinda agree with Emily on that he doesn't believe afterlife at all. But, is avoiding the answer more considerate than saying "no" ? 

However, I don't really think Angel has completely changed.
Tess said to him in the end that she was glad to die so she didn't need to live to see him despise her, and that's what he would do sooner or later if she had lived. I've read what Hardy said about the Angel, that if Tess had lived, he would eventually have started taunting her about her falls. 

Why did Hardy bail him out then?


Emily Stoker I think Hardy bailed him out because he is reflective of the society - completely backwards, the innocent woman is hanged in front of someone who really has been awful throughout most of the novel and he walks away with a future portraying the injustice of the times and perhaps of life generally


message 9: by Mimi (new)

Mimi Emily wrote: "I think Hardy bailed him out because he is reflective of the society - completely backwards, the innocent woman is hanged in front of someone who really has been awful throughout most of the novel ..."

Emily, I like your interpretation. Angel as the conventional ideas of Victorian society. Tess was sacrificed by the society represented by Angel Clare.

That's why people can't help feeling a big deal of injustice after reading this book, especially in Angel.


Brigitte Cross Mimi wrote: "I have been wondering for a while, what is Angel's intention for not answering Tess's critical question whether they will meet again after death. Tess took it as no, and so as I. How cruel is he, t..." I think that at that point he had perhaps given up on the concept of heaven and religion due to the pain he experienced while upholding his religious beliefs and deeming Tess to be unworthy of him. Also because of the murder Tess had commited, perhaps he was hoping that there would be no judgement after death so that Tess would not have to go through hell any longer.


message 11: by Dave (new) - added it

Dave As much as Hardy is criticized for his instructional narrative, he's ambiguous at critical points leaving us questions to ponder. Just as we don't know exactly the extent to which Tess was forced by Alec in the Chase, and exactly why Tess killed Alec, we don't know why Angel left Tess miserable at the thought she'd never find Angel in an afterlife.

Actually, the only reason to care what Angel meant was his affect on Tess. The emotional culmination of the novel with Tess' execution wouldn't have meant as much had she died believing something wonderful would await her in her afterlife. No, she dies with her life cornered in misery without any happiness, no fulfillment and no spiritual future. The picture of Tess in this nadir of her existence is well described in Hardy's Tess' Lament. She wishes her life a blot and to be completely forgotten. What could be a more powerful and heart wrenching end to the novel?


message 12: by Mimi (new)

Mimi Dave wrote: "As much as Hardy is criticized for his instructional narrative, he's ambiguous at critical points leaving us questions to ponder. Just as we don't know exactly the extent to which Tess was forced b..."

Great comment, Dave. That makes Hardy's intention more clear.

<"she dies with her life cornered in misery without any happiness, no fulfillment and no spiritual future. The picture of Tess in this nadir of her existence is well described in Hardy's Tess' Lament. She wishes her life a blot and to be completely forgotten. What could be a more powerful and heart wrenching end to the novel?"

I totally agree with you. Thank you.

You've mentioned about Hardy's poetry and Hardy's comments in Tess' discussion. I'm familiar with those because I've read a lot of books and papers about Tess, but are you studying about Tess or some kind of expert or something? Just curious...


message 13: by Dave (new) - added it

Dave Mimi wrote: You've mentioned about Hardy's poetry and Hardy's comments in Tess' discussion. I'm familiar with those because I've read a lot of books and papers about Tess, but are you studying about Tess or some kind of expert or something? Just curious...

Mimi, like some others on this forum I've been obsessed by Tess. Decades ago I read the novel for plot, skimmed over the words not understood, was a bit sad by the conclusion and in a couple of weeks had forgotten the story. A year ago I reread the novel and had a very different, much more intense experience. I took my time to savor Hardy’s language and used an ereader providing quick definitions to the uncommon words, and I took in the emotionally provocative descriptions which I’d ignored decades ago. I empathized fully with Tess and was devastated by the ending. I’ve never had an experience quite like my rereading of Tess.

Hardy presents emotions I've experienced so clearly and intensely I've felt he was reintroducing me to myself.


message 14: by Mimi (new)

Mimi Dave, I was astonished to find how similar your experience with Tess was to me. I've experienced very similar emotions to one of the characters as well.
I think it’s amazing.


message 15: by Dave (new) - added it

Dave Mimi wrote: "Dave, I was astonished to find how similar your experience with Tess was to me. I've experienced very similar emotions to one of the characters as well.
I think it’s amazing."



Mimi, who was the character that absorbed you?


message 16: by Mimi (new)

Mimi Dave,

I mean, the character to whom I've experienced similar emotions was Angel Clare. I learned that I should never judge people the hard way; I lost a friendship. However I don't have any sympathy for him.

I admire Hardy for creating such complex characters like Angel Clare and Sue Bridehead. I haven't come across fictional characters like them ever before. However, the most interesting character for me is Tess. Her complexity and ambivalence she presents absorbed me and fascinated me, for her actions and motives didn't make sense to me.

How about you? Do you mind sharing?


message 17: by Dave (last edited Jan 24, 2014 03:22PM) (new) - added it

Dave Mimi wrote: "Dave,

I mean, the character to whom I've experienced similar emotions was Angel Clare. I learned that I should never judge people the hard way; I lost a friendship. However I don't have any sympat..."


It's interesting you've been intrigued by Angel. He's certainly conflicted, intelligent, educated, intellectually rebellious and yet conformist. And even while he inflicts great pain on Tess, we can understand why. Don't we all care what others think? Do you find Angel's father interesting as well? To me he's more genuine: a rigid Calvinist but a true believer in forgiveness and compassion. If Tess had completed her intention, met Angel's father and asked for help we can wonder what he'd have thought and done. Once convinced she was Angel's wife he doubtlessly would have assisted her, but there is no free lunch. What would've been the strings attached to his charity? Probably they'd include strong urging that Tess' return to Christianity, and we can only guess how Tess would respond to that. Maybe Tess would have seen something of Angel in his father.

Angel's self-assessment as a free thinker recalls the many adolescents and young adults who consider themselves independent thinkers often rejecting the convictions of their parents. Yet most of these individuals in middle age come to think and act just like their parents. Hardy portrays Angel's brothers as considering themselves much like their father yet they're snobbish, and superior. Angel may be a better Christian and more a free thinker than his brothers, but it's clearly a struggle for him.

It might be that in comparing Tess and Angel, Angel is confused and conflicted about what he thinks and who he really is while Tess is naturally and fully herself and accepting of her full humanity. In that sense it's not surprising Angel idealized Tess as an earth goddess. He might've been seeking out her qualities.


back to top