Tess of the d'Urbervilles : quotations

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles is a notable literary work by Thomas Hardy. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Tess of the d'Urbervilles.


In this section, we will focus on the quotes of the novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. Let me mention these quotes and explanations.

Don’t you really know, Durbeyfield, that you are the lineal representative of the ancient and knightly family of the d’Urbervilles … ?

-Parson Tringham, Phase the First, Chapter 1

Parson Tringham informs John Durbeyfield of his noble lineage by tracing his ancestry to the prestigious d’Urberville family. This revelation impacts Durbeyfield as he learns about his aristocratic heritage. It contrasts his current modest living. The mention of being the “lineal representative” emphasizes Durbeyfield’s direct connection to this ancient and knightly lineage. It highlights the weight of his ancestry. This moment sets the stage for the story’s exploration of social class, fate, and the struggles faced by Tess, Durbeyfield’s daughter, as she guides a society deeply divided by class distinctions. The quote marks the beginning of Tess’s journey, illustrating the significance of heritage and societal expectations in shaping her fate.

But I don’t want anybody to kiss me, sir!’ she implored, a big tear beginning to roll down her face, and the corners of her mouth trembling in her attempts not to cry.

-Tess Durbeyfield, Phase the First, Chapter 8

Tess Durbeyfield is talking to someone and does not want them to kiss her. She is very emotional, with tears in her eyes, trying hard not to cry. The words show Tess’s vulnerability and unwillingness, indicating she is upset or scared. This moment reflects Tess’s innocence and her struggles with her emotions. The author uses these details to create a strong sense of Tess’s feelings. It makes readers sympathize with her.

I was born bad, and I have lived bad, and I shall die bad in all probability. But, upon my lost soul, I won’t be bad towards you again, Tess.

-Alec d’Urberville, Phase the Second, Chapter 12

Alec d’Urberville is confessing his wrongdoings to Tess. He is saying that he was born evil and has done bad things. He believes he will continue being bad in the future. However, he promises Tess he will not be harmful to her anymore. He accepts his past mistakes and regrets his actions, especially towards Tess.

Why didn’t you tell me there was danger in men-folk? Why didn’t you warn me?

-Tess Durbeyfield, Phase the Second, Chapter 12

Tess Durbeyfield says these words to her mother because she feels betrayed and angry. Tess trusted the men around her, but they mistreated her, causing her much pain. She wonders why her mother did not warn her about the dangers men could bring into her life. Tess expresses her disappointment and frustration, feeling let down by the people she thought she could rely on. These words highlight Tess’s vulnerability and the harsh realities she faces in a world where men can pose severe threats to women.

Suppose your sin was not of your own seeking?

-Tess Durbeyfield, Phase the Second, Chapter 13

Tess wonders what happens if you do something wrong but does not mean to do it. She is thinking about sin, which usually means doing something wrong. Tess feels guilty, even though she might not have intended to do something wrong. This question shows Tess’s inner struggle and raises important thoughts about responsibility and forgiveness. Tess is grappling with the consequences of her actions and trying to make sense of her situation.

The baby’s offence against society in coming into the world was forgotten by the girl-mother; her soul’s desire was to continue that offence by preserving the life of the child.

-Narrator, Phase the Second, Chapter 14

The narrator is talking about a young girl named Tess. Tess had a baby, and society did not like it because she was unmarried. People were angry about the baby’s birth, but Tess did not care what society thought. All she wanted was to protect and care for her child. The quote means that even though society considered the baby a problem, Tess only wanted to love and save her baby’s life, not caring about society’s judgment. It shows Tess’s strong motherly love and determination to protect her child despite society’s disapproval.

‘Was once lost always lost really true of chastity?’ she would ask herself.
-Tess Durbeyfield, Phase the Second, Chapter 15

Tess Durbeyfield questions the idea that once someone loses their chastity (virginity or purity), it is lost forever. She is pondering whether this concept is genuine. Tess is exploring the complexity of chastity and wondering if it is something that can be regained or if it is lost forever once it has gone. This shows her internal struggle and her contemplation about the societal norms and judgments about a person’s purity. Tess is grappling with the moral implications of her actions and the societal expectations placed upon her.

All the while they were converging, under an irresistible law, as surely as two streams in one vale.

-Narrator, Phase the Third, Chapter 20

The narrator compares two people, Tess and Angel Clare, to streams in a valley. The narrator says these two people are coming together, or “converging,” because of a solid and unavoidable force, like how two streams in a valley naturally come together. This comparison highlights that their meeting is not a coincidence but a result of fate or destiny. The phrase “irresistible law” suggests that their coming together is bound to happen, and nothing can stop it. This sentence emphasizes the inevitability of their connection. It emphasizes a sense of fate guiding their paths.

It is that this sound of a non-existent coach can only be heard by one of d’Urberville blood, and it is held to be of ill-omen to the one who hears it. It has to do with a murder, committed by one of the family, centuries ago.

-Alec d’Urberville, Phase the Fourth, Chapter 33

There is a spooky legend about a phantom coach that only someone from the d’Urberville family can hear. This mysterious sound is considered a bad sign for the person who hears it. The legend is connected to a murder committed by a d’Urberville ancestor many years ago. In this part of the story, Alec d’Urberville, one of the characters, encounters this mysterious phenomenon. This adds a sense of foreboding and mystery to the novel’s plot.

You were more sinned against than sinning, that I admit.

-Angel Clare, Phase the Fifth, Chapter 35

Angel Clare says Tess has suffered more than she has done wrong. He admits she has been mistreated and empathizes with her difficult life. This quote shows Angel’s understanding of Tess’s hardships and his compassion for her. He sees her as a victim of circumstances and sympathizes with her struggles. Angel’s words reflect his deep concern for Tess and his disclosure of the injustices she has faced.

How can we live together while that man lives?—he being your husband in nature, and not I. If he were dead it might be different.

-Angel Clare, Phase the Fifth, Chapter 36

Angel Clare is torn between his love for Tess and the fact that she is married to another man. He finds it difficult to live with Tess while her husband is still alive. Angel suggests their situation might be different if Tess’s husband were dead. It indicates his inner conflict and the societal constraints of their time. This highlights the characters’ moral dilemma and the challenges of navigating relationships within societal expectations.

O, will you go away—for the sake of me and my husband—go, in the name of your own Christianity!

-Tess Durbeyfield, Phase the Sixth, Chapter 46

Tess is begging Alec d’Urberville to leave, thinking about her and her husband. She asks him to go by mentioning Christianity. Tess is upset and wants this person to leave for both their sakes. Her words show how troubled she is, revealing her emotions. This quote reveals Tess’s vulnerability and her difficult situation.

I do love you, Tess—O, I do—it is all come back!

-Angel Clare, Phase the Seventh, Chapter 57

Angel Clare is telling Tess that his love for her has returned. Despite their challenges, his love for her is deep and genuine. This moment shows their endless love in difficult times.