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Archived Group Reads 2012 > Tess, Phase the 5th; Ch 35-44

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message 1: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1418 comments The Woman Pays


message 2: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha | 4 comments It was hurtful when Angel reconciled with Tess. I think neither Alec nor Angel was deserving of such a strong and selfless woman.


message 3: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I am just at the part now where Angel confessed his sin, then Tess did the same. His reaction and her begging him for forgiveness is filling me with a white hot rage.


message 4: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments I am filled with such anger as well. You really just want to reach in and throttle Angel. It really takes an amazing author to evoke that powerful of an emotional response.

I just want to point out here, that, throughout the entire book, I have been awestruck with Hardy's use of light. Light and shadow are such elusive concepts, but he paints such beautiful pictures with them. When on the dairy farm it feels so real, and you can almost feel the warmth of the fire as it flickers before Tess as she makes her confession. Using light in usch meaningful and descriptive ways really forces the reader to paint perfect mental images of the scene. Its very fascinating.


message 5: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I completely agree about Hardy's descriptions. I was particularly affected about his description of Tess and Angel's drive to and from delivering the milk, talking about the storm starting, the wind whipping around their heads. Also, the night she spent outside while hearing the sounds of the hunted pheasants dying around her. I will be on the lookout for light and shadow references now too.

I was literally yelling at the book when Angel nearly cheated on Tess. It does take a fantastic author to get me so mad and yet still love the story!


message 6: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments As of Chapter 43, I absolutely hate Angel Clare.


message 7: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments Oh man, the scene with the boots and Clare's brothers, actually really choked me up on Tess' behalf.


message 8: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I am just at that point now. I see you work with librivox, Becky. Are you listening to the librivox recording of Tess? This is the first time I've listened to this narrator and I think he's doing a fantastic job.


message 9: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments I am listening to the Librivox version! I love Adrian Praetzellis, he is such an excellent reader, and one of my favorites. He also reads Treasure Island which I read/listen to every year.


message 10: by Denise (new)

Denise (dulcinea3) | 400 comments Unfortunately, Angel is a victim of societal mores and double standards. I think this gets back to Hardy's view on the superiority of the primeval and pagan. Angel is not of that world, and so he sees things through a filter. Tess is of that world, and so she takes things as she finds them, and judges people by what they are and do, and not what society says they should be or do.


message 11: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Becky wrote: "I am listening to the Librivox version! I love Adrian Praetzellis, he is such an excellent reader, and one of my favorites. He also reads Treasure Island which I read/listen to every year."

I will definitely be listening to more of his work!

Denise - I am trying to remember that this was a different time, and that I'm bringing my own modern views and prejudices to the table. I think I was doing a pretty decent job, up until Angel propositioned Izz.


message 12: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments Admittedly I cringed when Angel told Tess he wanted to "cart her away as his property." Before then I was able to shake my head anytime HE decided what she was feeling, ie that she was being coy instead of denying him in earnest, etc.


message 13: by Nina (new)

Nina (ninarg) | 106 comments I will join in on the Angel bashing:) He had clearly substituted the real Tess with an ideal image of his own imagination and then punished her the harder when she couldn't live up to it. Also, I think it is brilliant of Hardy to put Angel and Tess in equal situations (i.e. non of them were "pure" before marriage and both wanted to tell the other but couldn't) and then show how unequal the punishment is. And where Angel knew what he was doing when he lost his virginity, Tess was taken advantage of and was by far in the worst situation of the two. This section is called "The Woman Pays" - how perfect of Hardy.

Tess began to annoy me a little in part four, but she is back in my good graces now. I find her very admirable, the way she keeps herself up and even dares to hope in a situation that is less than cheerful


message 14: by Sera (new)

Sera Wow! This section of the book really packed a wallop. Yes, Angel, for all his perfection, comes off as a real dolt here. It really ticked me off, too, that he was so willing to run off with another woman until SHE said something about Tess that made him reconsider it. I kept thinking - "be a man, already". He could have taken Tess to Brazil where no one knew them.


message 15: by Sera (new)

Sera Did anyone else think that it was odd how the lives of the 3 other dairy women fell apart after Angel married Tess?


message 16: by Sera (new)

Sera What did you all think of the last chapter where our old friend found religion? I guess that Angel's dad had an impact on him after all.

I can't believe that the book is so good. I'm at work and dying to keep reading. I guess that I'll have to wait until tonight - darn!


message 17: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 495 comments Angel is here a terrible figure: all that coulb be felt as horrible: you've already pointed it our: we in Italy say "Due pesi e due misure" - two weights, two mesurements" exactly to underline the way the same thing can be judged in totally different ways depending on who is the judge.
But will Alec really be converted? It looks so strange to me ...

Sera wrote: Did anyone else think that it was odd how the lives of the 3 other dairy women fell apart after Angel married Tess?
But don't you think that in the end they stuck to Tess anyway? I find them maybe the best characters of the whole novel ...


message 18: by Sera (new)

Sera LauraT wrote: "Angel is here a terrible figure: all that coulb be felt as horrible: you've already pointed it our: we in Italy say "Due pesi e due misure" - two weights, two mesurements" exactly to underline the ..."

LauraT, good point about the 3 dairy women. Their loyalty is impressive. Plus, they end up being sort of like family to Tess when she has no one else to turn to for solace.

The whole Alec thing really swung me for a loop. I can't wait to see where that part of the book is going.


message 19: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Mar 18, 2012 10:06AM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) It does seem as if Angel is really no angel at all, but a man who is unforgiving and unyielding towards what he perceives as his wife's indiscretion. What bothers me and I do know that I am looking at it with modern eyes is Tess's obvious sense of guilt. She has taken on the burden of behaviour that was not of her doing and becomes in her mind a woman to be shunned. Her family keeps taping her for money, something they think she can readily provide them, but think nothing of her survival. Tess ultimately becomes a lesser being on all accounts including her own estimation of herself. She is so willing to accept her fate as if she totally deserves everything that has come her way.

My heart breaks for her, yet I also want to shake her and make her aware that it is she who is the most elevated of all the people within this novel. I do like the other dairymaids too!

Mr Clare is a brute and a coward.


message 20: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 495 comments Marialyce wrote: "What bothers me and I do know that I am looking at it with modern eyes is Tess's obvious sense of guilt..."

This is what I was trying to say before: it is HER sense of guilt that make her accept behaviours from those arounf her that are definitly unaccettable, at least from our standards. But Probably they were "normal" for that time: In Italy up to 20 years ago rape wan a guilt against public morality, not against the body of a person!!!


message 21: by SarahC (last edited Mar 19, 2012 01:08PM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1418 comments Good points, Marialyce and Laura. I think that is what Hardy is doing -- showing us that society very heavily controlled who was assigned guilt. Women have legal protection today and a voice in the law and in their own choices in life - in other words, we have the choice to choose therapy, a different path, our OWN mindset, etc. after a tragedy like this. Women are looked at as individuals who are not grouped into a category as Angel has grouped Tess.

I won't cause a spoiler here, but I can't not think about the scene in Downton Abbey on the topic of Mary's reputation when she is confessing her past, in which these Hardy characters are actually mentioned. This scene was written by the modern writer Julian Fellowes, and he allowed a more modern mindset for his characters. Sorry no spoilers - I know some of our Victorians! here have not seen Downton. [If you want to comment on the Downton storyline, you might put it in SPOILER code.]

And I am not saying the Downton story is unrealistic. And I do not know if Hardy's character of Angel is realistic either. He seems a confusing mix of the modern thinker and the traditional male-dominate person. It seems he loses any sense of love for her at this point in the story. He just wants to concentrate on the possible "weakness" of this person he has admired so much.

Angel's story and that of his father seem at contrast here. His father is also very strict in his thinking, but he talks of waiting to see if the seeds of hope spring up in the people he tries to help with his ministry. In other words, he seems to believe in people more than Angel does. Any thoughts on this?


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I do think that Angel's father is a lot more forgiving in his approach to life. Angel seems rigid in his thinking, the kind of man who would make a domineering husband and father I think. Come to think of it, his other sons seem just as rigid as Angel. One has to wonder why the brothers have grown to be like this since their example figure, their father, is a minister who allows for human fraility.


message 23: by Sera (new)

Sera Marialyce wrote: "I do think that Angel's father is a lot more forgiving in his approach to life. Angel seems rigid in his thinking, the kind of man who would make a domineering husband and father I think. Come to t..."

Angel's father does deny Angel an education though for failing to serve the church.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Sera wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "I do think that Angel's father is a lot more forgiving in his approach to life. Angel seems rigid in his thinking, the kind of man who would make a domineering husband and father ..."

True, I didn't think of that.


message 25: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments It wasn't for failing to serve the church. Angel was fairly heretical, an openly against the prescribed religion. Angel's father didn't want him using that education to attack the church. If Angel had been less vociferous and instead called simply to a different vocation, rather than being so outspoken, his father may have given him an education.

I think Angel's father was ulitamtely disappointed with all three children. The two that went into the Churchw ere always described in a very worldy way, they dressed and acted properly always. They really only cared about their station, not their vocation. I feel it was different for Angel's father, he may have been rigid, but he truly believed in salvation and charity. Hardy specifically mentions that if Tess had gone to them, their heart would have broken for her, that she was exactly the kind of sad story that they looked after.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Yes, Becky, that is what made me think he was kind hearted. I agree, the sons were certainly a lot more worldly and a lot less forgiving,


message 27: by Sera (new)

Sera Me, too, Becky.


message 28: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1418 comments Yes, part of the elder Clare's rigidity may have been to try to focus his children on real spiritual and humane beliefs. Maybe compare it to the fact that I am probably considered the 'tough parent' around locally because I am rigid in things like young people using their manners and speaking to each other politely. It is being tough but for the reason of keeping focused on humanity and people's needs and feelings around us.


message 29: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Denise wrote: "Unfortunately, Angel is a victim of societal mores and double standards. I think this gets back to Hardy's view on the superiority of the primeval and pagan. Angel is not of that world, and so he..."

That's an excellent comment, as are the comments about how effective Hardy is in raising in us rage at Angel and sympathy for Tess.

It's very hard for us to find any justification for Angel, but as you point out, he's a victim of a different upbringing than Tess. He had such an idealized vision of Tess that when it's shattered he just can't deal with it. As he says, she isn't the woman he married.

In light of the much less stringent moral principles of our modern society, his actions are unforgivable and even cruel. But I think it's part of Hardy's genius that he makes clear to us that Angel is in as much pain as Tess is.


message 30: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Sera wrote: "I can't believe that the book is so good. I'm at work and dying to keep reading. I guess that I'll have to wait until tonight - darn! "

This is why we love Victorian writing so. There is no modern writing that can compare with it, partly I think because the limitations on what they could say and how they could say it make their writing much richer and more subtle than the overt sex scenes that so many modern writers rely on.


message 31: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Marialyce wrote: "Mr Clare is a brute and a coward. "

I have to disagree with you. A brute would not feel the anguish that Angel does as he debates with himself what he needs to do. He is not deliberately cruel to Tess; he is just incapable of forgiveness or of accepting the change from the idealized Tess to the actual Tess. By his own lights, I think he is really trying to do the right thing. To us, of course, it is totally the wrong thing; he should have forgiven Tess and gone on living with the Tess as she was rather than as he believed her to be. But that's not the act of a brute, at least not in my mind.

As to coward, I don't see that either. Isn't he really taking a harder way out of his dilemma? I think it takes a degree of courage for him to deprive himself of Tess's love and sexual companionship for the sake of a principle.

I agree that the offer to Izz is a shock, but he does recover quickly enough. There was probably more courage in telling her no than there would have been in fulfilling his offer to take her with him.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Everyman wrote: "Sera wrote: "I can't believe that the book is so good. I'm at work and dying to keep reading. I guess that I'll have to wait until tonight - darn! "

This is why we love Victorian writing so. Ther..."


Great point! Although I feel there are a few good modern writes who do come up to the Victorian writers, I think. The gratuitous sex that seems to pervade a lot of books cheapens them I believe. Fortunately for us, the Victorian writers had to operate under parameters of a followed etiquette and behaviours.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Everyman wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "Mr Clare is a brute and a coward. "

I have to disagree with you. A brute would not feel the anguish that Angel does as he debates with himself what he needs to do. He is not de..."


I do see your point, Everyman. However, his leaving Tess to a life of uncertainty was brutish to me. He did not know what would happen to her. How could this be love I have to wonder? He so wanted her and loved her and yet, he leaves her bereft. Yes, I know he gave her money and the ability to contact his parents, but does he bring her to them? Did he think of her first ever and himself secondly? I have to think that he really did not love her just wanted to posses her, own her, and when he found she was not the perfect little woman and was damaged he left. I can't help but feel that his behavior was brutal.


message 34: by Sera (new)

Sera Everyman wrote: "Sera wrote: "I can't believe that the book is so good. I'm at work and dying to keep reading. I guess that I'll have to wait until tonight - darn! "

This is why we love Victorian writing so. Ther..."


That's a very good point. Less is more oftentimes, isn't it?


message 35: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 495 comments Everyman wrote: "Sera wrote: "I can't believe that the book is so good. I'm at work and dying to keep reading. I guess that I'll have to wait until tonight - darn! "

This is why we love Victorian writing so. Ther..."


I DO agree here!!!!


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