In Chapter XV several months have passed and Tess accepts an offer to be a milkmaid in Talbothays. Tess is hopeful for her future, and my book induced depression is subsiding.
In Chapter XVI we find out a few years have actually passed and Tess is now 20. It’s May and she’s headed to Egdon via Stourcastle, which is in the opposite direction of Trantridge. The journey takes most of the day, and all of the chapter. Not too much happens in this chapter, instead it sets the scene for this third phase of Tess.
The narrator tells us that she’s sad to go, but also knows it’s the best choice for her and the family. Although they will feel the loss of her at first, they will adjust to the new normal and Tess believes it will likely improve their fate by removing her bad example from the household. How sad is that?
So, the area that she is going to is an area that she has never been to, it seems to be a bit harder to travel to this area from Marlott and out of the sphere of influence for them. But she does feel connected to this area, perhaps because she’s passing the burial place of her ancestors, the real d’Urbervilles. At this she recognizes that she is only part d’Urberville. She got her beauty from her mother, but her spirit from her father.
The other thing we learn about in this chapter is about Egdon. The area is quite different from Marlott. It’s a much larger area, and the farms are much larger here. Its strikes me that Marlott is mostly a small self sustaining village and Egdon is more of an “industrial” farm town.
And so the chapter ends with Tess arriving in Egdon just as it’s time to milk the cows.
If you’re wondering where this is in England, it’s south of Bath.