Tess of the d'Urbervilles Contents
- Social / political context
- Religious / philosophical context
- Chapters 1-9
- Chapters 10-19
- Chapters 20-29
- Chapters 30-39
- Chapters 40-49
- Chapters 50-59
- Tess as a 'Pure Woman'
- Tess as a secular pilgrim
- Tess as a victim
- The world of women
- Tess as an outsider
- Coincidence, destiny and fate
- Disempowerment of the working class
- Heredity and inheritance
- Laws of nature vs. laws of society
- Nature as sympathetic or indifferent
- Patterns of the past
- Sexual predation
- Inner conflicts: body against soul
Synopsis of chapter 21
Tess's pastoral happiness is disturbed by two small events:
- A story she overhears about a jilted dairymaid and her subsequent enforced marriage makes Tess realise her past is still with her. Whilst everyone else treats the story as rather comic, she feels it deeply
- She also discovers her three companions are all in love with Angel, but they realise they have no hope of him. They believe Angel is attracted to Tess, and, whilst Tess is tempted to make something of this, she resists, having taken an inner vow not to marry because of the past.
Commentary on chapter 21
For the first time, Hardy distinguishes between the dairymaids and begins to characterise them. Tess is thus introduced to a sub-community of thwarted lovers within the greater community. This is the theme of the chapter.
the butter would not come: the milk to be made into butter is turned in a churn until it begins to thicken, or 'come'. The turner can hear when this happens because it makes a different sound.
Conjuror Trendle's son: a conjuror in country terms would be someone endowed with country wisdom and cures for ailments. He might use remnants of old pagan rituals to aid him. Trendle is mentioned a number of times in Hardy's Wessex Tales. The Mayor of Casterbridge contains an episode where Henchard visits another conjuror, Fall.
cast folk's waters: tell a person's fortune by testing their urine
dog-days: the hottest part of the summer, when the Dog Star (Sirius) is in the ascendancy in the night sky, roughly early June to mid-August.
county annals: history of the country. Hardy has previously mentioned the Paridelles as being rather like the d'Urbervilles (Ch 19).
Owlscombe: Batcombe, in the hills some six miles north of Dorchester, near a village called Minterne Magna.
almanack: calendar which lists holidays, stars and planets, seasonal happenings
ballyragging: cursing, verbally abusing
en: dialect form of 'them'
'hor's bird: bastard (literally 'whore's bird')
pummy: apple pulp, left after cider-making
Investigating chapter 21
- What purpose is served by introducing the butter-turning incident?
- What does it show us about the community?
- What does it show us about Tess?
- Look at the description of the sun and the bird song as examples of the pathetic fallacy.
- What does it show about Tess's emotional state?
- How does this description compare to previous descriptions of sunrise and sunset?
- How does Hardy distinguish the three dairymaids?
- In what ways are they all set apart from Tess?
- What does the phrase 'more woman than either' mean?
- What dilemma is Tess now faced with, having overheard the dairymaids' conversation?
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
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