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Chapters 45, 46, 47, and 48

Phase The Sixth: The Convert

Chapter 45

Tess stares at her former oppressor, seeing that he has been entirely transformed. His lips, which used to spew romantic overtures, now are devoted to fervent religious dogma. Her initial surprise is slightly tamed by her admission that Alec would not have been the first man to undergo such an incredible change in belief. She moves to leave, not wanting to see him, but as she does so, he recognizes her.
Alec's reaction to seeing Tess is strong, she being one of his greatest misgivings in his life. He knows he brought about her undoing, and he is repentant. Running after her, he is sad to learn that she wishes to have nothing to do with him. Moreover, she is largely skeptical of his conversion and is outraged that it is he who has harmed her so greatly in her past. She listens to him explain how he is converted by Angel's father, but she is still indignant with his presence. She tells him about their baby and her great sorrows over his death, and Alec is shocked to learn the information. Before he allows her to leave, however, he makes her swear upon a relic not to excite his heart, and although she thinks it ridiculous, she assents. She tells him to stay away from her. As she walks away, she asks a nearby shepherd if the relic is indeed real, but he tells her that it is not, but rather an ill-omen connected to a horrible act. Tess is mortified as she makes her way back to the dairy house, meeting Izz along the way who is in the middle of her own courtship.

Chapter 46

Tess is working hard in the fields when Alec d'Urberville comes to see her. She scoffs him, but he tries to convince her of his earnest intentions. He reveals a marriage license and tries to do the right act, but Tess reluctantly reveals to him that she is married to someone else. Alec is surprised at the news, since he does not expect that Tess' husband could allow her to work so hard. He continues to question the character of a man who does not realize how valuable Tess is, but Tess fervently defends Angel, though she does not tell Alec the identity of her husband. Alec confesses that the sight of Tess has aroused great and lost feelings in him, but he acknowledges the other man. However, Tess tells him that Angel is far away, and Alec is again indignant that Tess could be treated so poorly. Just then, Farmer Groby comes over to see why Tess has been detained, but Alec does not like how he treats her. Tess, however, asks him to leave, and in her private thoughts, she thinks over his marriage proposal and laughs since he is so unpleasant to her.
That night, Tess again tries to write a letter to Angel to assure him of her undying love but she thinks back to Izz's story and cannot finish the letter. Some days later, Alec comes to her house, confessing his obsession with her. He learns that Tess' religious beliefs have been influenced by Angel, so that she might even be considered an infidel, but Tess defends Angel ardently for his patience in teaching her. Moreover, Alec tells Tess that the sight of her has removed all pretense of religion in his life, and that he is ignoring a speaking engagement to come to see her. Tess cries that she does not want him to do that, but Alec is too smitten and cannot resist her. As he leaves her, he thinks of how to use Tess' religious beliefs in his favor to win her from Angel, cleverly plotting his ways to get Tess back.

Chapter 47

It is a big work day, and everyone at the dairy is working hard, with Tess having the most difficult and unrelenting job of all, owing to her employer's dislike of her. Still, with Marian's aid, Tess handles the job well. Soon, she learns that Alec again wishes to speak to her, but she ignores him, proceeding with the rest of the day. She asks why Alec continues to trouble her, but Alec retorts that he is the troubled one, since the image of Tess haunts him. He can no longer do any of his preaching, since he has fallen out of his belief in his infatuation with Tess. She tells him to leave her alone, but Alec tries to persuade her of his good intentions. He cannot see her struggling like she is, and he wants to provide for her if she will only go away with him.
Tess' indignation gets the best of her and she hits him with one of her leather gloves, causing him injury. Alec is angry that she has lashed out at him, since he is only trying to do right by her, and he threatens that in some way, she will be his. He leaves, promising to return, leaving a stunned Tess.

Chapter 48

That afternoon, Tess is still working hard, with her employer demanding that their task be finished by that day. She is not surprised that Alec comes to visit her again, but she ignores him and works even harder. She is the only woman working on the machine, giving her a difficult task but she perseveres. To Tess' surprise, Farmer Groby tells her that it is okay for her to see Alec, but knowing that Alec himself has made the request, she refuses and toils on.
Finally, Alec has an opportunity to speak with her and he pursues his intentions of marrying her. He cannot understand why she suffers in her job, when he can provide handsomely for her and her family. Tess is piqued at the mention of her family, but she says that if he wishes to help them, she does not want to be informed. That night, Tess writes a passionate letter to Angel, pouring out her love and her desire just to be with him, if only as his servant. She begs for him to agree to let her come and join him, if he would only send for her.

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


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