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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
PHASE THE FOURTH -- THE CONSEQUENCE
Confused by Tess's reaction to his advances, Angel decides to stay away from her. Since it will be difficult to do so on the farm, he decides to go for a visit with his family for a few days. On his way home to Emminster, Angel analyzes his amorous feelings. He concludes that his love for Tess is genuine and decides to tell his parents about her.
When Angel arrives home unannounced, his parents and two brothers are having breakfast. His brothers notice that Angel is greatly changed, seeming now like a farmer rather than a scholar. Angel also thinks that his brothers have changed, growing limited in their views of life. Felix, a curate in a neighboring town, can only focus on church matters; Cuthbert, a dean at Cambridge, can only focus on university matters.
This chapter contrasts Angel and his brothers. Staying and working at Talbothay's dairy has changed Angel. He is now much less a polished scholar and much more a country farmer, both in appearance and in thought. By contrast, his brothers lead much more sophisticated lives, one being a curate and one being a dean at Cambridge. But Angel feels their thinking has become very limited by their professions. He knows he no longer has anything in common with them other than his roots.
It is important to notice the family's reactions to the gifts sent by Mrs. Crick. Her black pudding and mead have no place in their meal, for the family considers such plain country cooking to be unsuitable for consumption. Angel realizes that although his family is good in their religious duties, they lack real human sentiments. They cannot even appreciate the affection and love symbolized in Mrs. Crick's gifts.
In the evening, Mr. Clare tells Angel that he has saved the money not spent on Angel's Cambridge education. He is willing to give it to his son so that he may purchase some land to farm. They then talk about a suitable wife for Angel. Mr. Clare suggests that his son marry Mercy Chant, a wonderful Christian girl who is the daughter of a neighbor. Angel admits that he has someone else in mind, a young woman who is familiar with farming. His mother quizzes him about her social background, but Angel says it makes no difference in a farmer's wife. Instead, he praises the other virtues of his beloved Tess. In the end, his parents judge Tess to be inferior to Mercy and her many accomplishments, and Angel is sad at their prejudices. At the end of the discussion, his parents advise Angel not to rush into anything and agree to meet Tess in the future.
When it is time for Angel to return to the farm, his father accompanies him for awhile. As they walk, Mr. Clare speaks of his successes and his failures. He is particularly bothered by the fact that a young man from the D'Urberville family has been remiss in his spiritual duties. When Mr. Clare confronted him, they argued. Mr. Clare feels like he has failed to influence this young man and continues to pray for him. Angel is upset about the treatment his father has received from the D'Urbervilles, and his dislike for such unscrupulous, historical families increases. The irony is obvious.
It is important to notice the difference between the attitudes of Mr. and Mrs. Clare towards Tess. She is concerned about Tess's social background, questioning if she is a lady. Mr. Clare is not worried about her wealth or social status; instead, he is totally concerned about her religious background. Angel tells his mother that social class is unimportant on a farm and assures his father of Tess's religious beliefs. Angel thinks to himself that he must work on Tess's religion and plans to give her appropriate reading material to enlighten her. Before she has ever agreed to marry Angel, he is already trying to change Tess, foreshadowing that there will be future problems in this relationship.
It is obvious to the reader that the young D'Urberville whom Mr. Clare discusses is none other than Alec. It is ironic that Mr. Clare is praying for this young man and hopes that it will benefit Alec in the future. Angel's reaction to the discussion is also significant. He is disgusted over the young man's unscrupulous behavior and resents his wealthy family.