In chapter XXXV Angel turns into a hypocrite and can’t deal with Tess’ confession.
It’s the following morning and Angel sends away the village woman who has come to help them and makes breakfast for Tess and himself. When he calls Tess down she’s down within a few minutes and full dressed, indicating she had been awake and dressed for a while and sitting by a cold fire.
The pair were, in truth, but the ashes of their former fires. To the hot sorrow of the previous night had succeeded heaviness; it seemed as if nothing could kindle either of them to the fervour of sensations any more.
When Angel sees her he sees the pure woman he fell in love with and asks again if it is true, as though if she just denied it they could pretend it didn’t happen. But she admits it did. Angel then asks if he is living. Tess states the baby died, but Angel actually wants to know if the man is alive and in England. Things might have been different, or at least easier if he was dead.
Tess offers a divorce, but Angel says it would be impossible, which is news to her. She had always thought that if Angel could not accept her that he could at least divorce her. Against this wall she offers to kill herself, and says that she almost did the night before. Angel at least still thinks enough of her to make her promise not to do that.
After that they have an awkward breakfast together and then Angel goes to the mill to learn about milling. When he returns for lunch she has it ready for him and they have a less awkward meal discussing what he had learned that morning.
Later that evening she is working in the kitchen to keep herself busy and Angel tells her to stop, that she’s his wife, not his servant. Apparently he’s not the only one confused because she thought he wouldn’t allow her to formerly be his wife. So she cries. But just as he had turned his back on the church he has also resolutely turned his heart from Tess. The conversation goes from that to her respectability and he says she’s respectable, his loss of love is one of principle.
What? He admits he didn’t let her tell him, that she was a victim, that she is respectable. He says he forgives her. What the hell principle is he talking about? He sounds like a self righteous man!
After another day Tess gives him an invitation to kiss, which he rejects. Her mood is darkening and Angel offers that they need to stay together for a while to avoid scandal.
Angel isn’t doing so well himself, after a few days he’s mumbling to himself about what is to be done. Tess finally asks if they will be together long and he tells her no. He’s afraid he will start to despise himself and then her if they stay together. Then he mentions the possibility of their having children and then the possibility of them finding out about Tess’ past and hating her. It’s enough to get her to back off.
Tess really frustrates me in this chapter. In the last chapter she was at least fighting for Angel, in this one she’s become sad and depressed and gives up. She’s not the Tess that I love, or the one that Angel loves.
Tess offers to go home to her family, to leave him. She doesn’t really want to do this, but in the end Angel accepts her offer. It seems that parting is not intended to be forever, but to give them both a chance to reevaluate. He tells her that he may think of her better with distance and maybe they can come together again in time.
Wow, these two are quick to give up on each other. I thought with our 50% divorce rate in the US that we would be more temperamental. Apparently not!