In Chapter IV we left off with Tess and Abraham taking the bee hives to Casterbridge. After falling asleep Tess had an accident with another carriage, causing the death of the family horse, Prince. Tess was feeling quite guilty and I was concerned about what she would do to make it up to her family.
As I guessed, Tess’ guilt did leave her looking for ways to make this up to her family and with the urging of her father not to, she decided to go to the d’Urberville house to claim kin.
In case I haven’t said it yet, I’m really starting to like Tess. She’s bright and knows her parents aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, but is still loving and respectful to them.
In this chapter we do find out a bit more about Tess and the family, that she is loved by the community and has developed great friendships with the girls of her same age. She doesn’t think highly of her mother, who has had too many children and is mentally more a child then the mother of the household. That has left Tess burdened with many household responsibilities and with yet another burden she goes to find the extended family…
Once arriving at the home of the d’Urbervilles she quickly realizes that this is not the home of titles and money, but rather of a new wealthy family, but having gone this far, does not turn back.
Of course the reader finds out that this is actually the home of the Stoke-d’Urbervilles, a wealthy family with no ties to the d’Urbervilles other then to have chosen the name out of a stack of other fancy sounding names meant to distance the family from its merchant routes.
Upon arriving at the home Tess meets Alexander, or Alec as Fifty Shades of Grey readers know him. He’s standing outside and once the reason for her visit is explained, he explains that his mother is an invalid and he is the only son of the family. He does not reveal that they are not d’Urbervilles and the way it is written, one could assume that he is aware of the “borrowing” of the name.
But never the less, Tess seems to be attracted to Alec and he to her. At first glance he seems like a gentleman. Until you take into account that he lets her go on thinking they are cousins, and that feeding her strawberries and showering her with roses might be a bit odd for cousins and perhaps a bit forward during Victorian times.
So yes, he gave her a tour of the grounds, FED her strawberries and gave her more to take home. Then picked roses for her to put in her bosom (not my word). And apparently she has more then ample bosom for her age – Alec is a boob man!
WTF? For what it’s worth, she does try to decline these offers, but falls under his spell and goes along with all of this. Poor girl, I don’t think Joan had, “the talk” with her.
Alec also makes an effort to have lunch with her without the interruption of his servants and almost steals a kiss from her before stopping himself. He’s not sounding like a stand up guy by Victorian standards! But here is how Hardy narrates the story:
Thus the thing began. Had she perceived this meeting’s import she might have asked why she was doomed to be seen and coveted that day by the wrong man, and not by some other man, the right and desired one in all respects – as nearly as humanity can supply the right and desired; yet to him who amongst her acquaintance might have approximated to this kind, she was but a transient impression, half forgotten.
Hardy goes on, foreshadowing the doom that is to come. Alec seems to go on to plot his debasement of Tess, and that pisses me off!