View Full Version : The worst thing that Angel did?

06-22-2012, 09:06 PM
Contains possible spoilers.

I have just been reading this (digitalcommons.colby.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2492...cq) bleak essay titled "Hardy's Reading in Schopenhauer: Tess of the d'Urbervilles". It seems that Angel's differences with the Church of England's 39 articles went far beyond whether the resurrection was physical or spiritual. He does not seem to believe in any afterlife at all. He can't even bring himself to tell Tess they will meet after death. Of course Tess deferentially believes whatever Angel does. It might have been something along these lines that Tess tells Alec in chapter 46 (although it might also have been about determinism or a lack of belief in an interventionist God). When Alec starts behaving like a rake again, it may be because he's been persuaded there is no damnation. Also in chapter 46 Tess tells Alec she is forbidden to pray because God wouldn't change His plans on her account, so how could she repent before her execution?

Imagine reading that in 1891. For both Alec and Tess it's either oblivion or damnation. Depending on your religious beliefs, that would be the worst thing that Angel did.

06-25-2012, 01:12 PM
I have just read in a study book about Hardy that in a previous draft of Tess, Angel's original confession to Tess on their wedding night had a lot more to do with having lost his faith. I wonder whether Hardy's publishers found this even less acceptable than sex outside marriage.