Jiffynotes    

Jiffynotes index page

\\ home \ Tess of the D'Urbervilles:
Chapters 1, 2, and 3

Phase the First: The Maiden

Chapter 1

On a May evening, a middle-aged man walks home to Marlott, with a limp and carrying an empty basket. Along on a horse comes an elderly parson who addresses him as Sir John. The younger man appears confused since his name is simply Jack Durbeyfield. The parson explains that he discovered by accident that Durbeyfield is a lineal representative from the line of d'Urbervilles, an ancient noble family. Jack is shocked to hear of his bloodline, and he asks for more information. The parson tells him unfortunately that they are an extinct family but that their tombs are at Kingsebere-sub-Greenhill. He further relays that there is really no worth to the information, since the great family has fallen and no longer holds any mansions or estates.
Durbeyfield immediately calls a passing boy and summons him to go to the Pure Drop Inn and send back a carriage to carry him the rest of the way home. A d'Urberville ought to travel in style. The boy is initially skeptical, owing to Durbeyfield's poverty, but once he is paid, he sets about accomplishing his tasks. Before the lad leaves, Durbeyfield asks him to explain what is the occasion for the brass band he is hearing. It is the women's club-walking, of which one of Durbeyfield's daughter is a member. The boy leaves, and Durbeyfield lies upon the grass awaiting his carriage.

Chapter 2

That day, the May-Day dance is happening, where the women are walking and dancing together in a sisterhood. They are all dressed in white gowns, though no two shades of white are the same. Each woman also carries a peeled willow-wand and white flowers of their own choosing. Though there are several older women in the group, most are young country girls.
As they walk past the Pure Drop Inn, one of the girls sees Tress Durbeyfield's father, Jack, riding home in a carriage. Tess, a pretty and innocent-looking girl, is embarrassed at the sight of her father, makes an excuse for his appearance, and scurries away.
At the dance, the girls first dance with each other, since the men have not retired from work just yet. Among the onlookers are three brothers, passing through Marlott. The elder two, Felix and Cuthbert, do not wish to dance with the girls who are below them in status, but the youngest, Angel, stays for a few dances, agreeing to meet up with his brothers after a short while. Angel enters and chooses a girl with whom to dance. His boldness encourages other men to join in and soon the barn is alive with dancing and music.
When Angel finally notices the time, he takes leave of the girls, only then noticing Tess with whom he regrets not having danced. Still there is no time to dawdle on the regret since he is late meeting his brothers and he takes off running. He looks back to see Tess watching him leave. He is again struck by the sad wish that he had danced with her but not being able to help the situation, he dismisses the subject and continues running.

Chapter 3

Tess, meanwhile, does not as easily forget the event, and Angel's departure causes her not to dance for a while. She watches him leave until she can no longer see him before returning to the barn and agreeing to dance. She would have danced even longer that evening but she remembers the strange sight of her father in the carriage and heads for home.
As she approaches, she hears her mother's usual humming and sounds of the laundry coming from her house. Their dwelling is small and sparse, and Tess enters its dreariness embarrassed that she has been having fun while her mother Joan has been doing the wash and rocking her siblings to bed. When Tess takes over for her, her mother heads over to get her father who has been drinking at a nearby pub. Before she leaves, Tess asks why her father was in the carriage that day, and her mother tells her of their noble lineage. Tess also learns that her father is ill, though his fate is unpredictable. Her mother leaves, asking Tess to return a fortune-telling book to the outhouse, too superstitious to have it remain in the house overnight. Tess wonders what might have caused her mother to consult in the book.
Tess looks after her siblings, Liza-Lu, Abraham, and four others in her mother's absence. It grows late and still her parents do not return, though they should have made their way through Marlott long before. She calls her brother Abraham and asks him to go to Rolliver's to see what has detained them. However, time passes and none of the three return, and Tess sighs and prepares to depart herself.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
Chapters 7, 8, and 9
Chapters 10 and 11
Chapters 12, 13, 14, and 15
Chapters 16, 17, and 18
Chapters 19, 20, and 21
Chapters 22, 23, and 24
Chapters 25, 26, and 27
Chapters 28, 29, and 30
Chapters 31 and 32
Chapters 33 and 34
Chapters 35, 36, and 37
Chapters 38, 39, and 40
Chapters 41, 42, 43, and 44
Chapters 45, 46, 47, and 48
Chapters 49, 50, 51, and 52
Chapters 53, 54, and 55
Chapters 56, 57, 58, and 59



 






Copyright © 1999 - Jiffynotes.com. All Rights Reserved.
To cite information from this page, please cite the date when you
looked at our site and the author as Jiffynotes.com.
Privacy Statement