Thomas Hardy, who believed that we are all in the inescapable hands of fate, thrives on hap throughout Tess of the durberville. Through this characteristic, Hardy is able to develop the heroine of the novel, Tess Durbeyfield. Hap plays a role in fate, coincidence, bad luck, and accidents throughout the novel. Hardy begins the novel with early distinctions of fate. When Angel Clare, who is briefly introduced in the beginning of the novel, sets his eyes on Tess Durbeyfield, he feels a connection with her immediately: As he fell out of the dance, his eyes lighted on Tess Durbeyfield, whose own large orbs wore, to tell the truth, the faintest aspect of reproach that he had not chosen her. He, too, was sorry then that, owing to her backwardness, he had not observed her; and with that in his mind he left the pasture.
(12) Hardys description of the visual encounter between Tess and Angel foreshadows that the pair will indeed meet again in their predestined pathway of life. Hardy also focuses on the attraction presented between Tess and Angel. The attraction proves to foreshadow the importance of the early relations that they have shared: This white shape stood apart by the hedge alone. From her position he knew it to be the pretty maiden with whom he had not danced She was so modest, so expressive, she had looked so soft in her thin white gown that he felt he had acted stupidly. (12) Angels actions of ignoring Tess are portrayed as part of who he is.
He wished that he had inquired the unknown about Tess when he had the chance at the dance. However, he does not venture to find out any information about this peasant girl. Angels action parallel the future event when Tess wants to confess her sins to Angel. He chose to ignore her until they are married and settled leading them more towards their fated marital downfall. I am so anxious to talk to you- I want to confess all my faults and blunders! (208) No, no- we cant have faults talked of- you must be deemed perfect to-day at least, my Sweet!
(208) Angel realized that Tess was hurt by this oversight at the dance. This parallels when Angel would not forgive her for her sins of her past, proving that fate had the upper hand in their relationship. Trifling as the matter was, he yet instinctively felt that she was hurt by his oversight. He wished that he had asked her; he wished that he had inquired her name. However, it could not be helped, and turning, and bending himself to a rapid walk, he dismissed the subject from his mind. (12) Upon first seeing Tess at the church dance, Angel ignores his feelings for her in the same manner as he did after Tess confesses her past with Alec dUrberville.
Tess decided not to visit the Clares because she overhead Felix and Cuthbert Clares vicious thoughts regarding her. Tess ventured on to find work at Flintcomb-Ash. While leaving she heard a preacher, and visited the barn where he was presenting his sermon. She recognized the preacher to be Alec dUrberville.
The three oclock sun shone full upon him, and the strange enervating conviction that her seducer confronted her, which had been gaining ground in Tess ever since she had heard his words distinctly, was at last established as a fact indeed. (298) Utilizing coincidence, Hardy had Tess and Alec meet again. Although their brief encounter was only a mere coincidence, this reunion played a large role in the future of Tess temperance and tenacity. Tess advanced on to Flintcomb-Ash. She found work and with the consent of the Masters wife she began her labor immediately. Tess met the master of Flintcomb-Ash.
She immediately realized that he was coincidentally the same man whom Angel hit at the Inn and the man she fled from in the forest. Her new master, Farmer Groby, was the same man who insulted her through harassing her about her past. Presently they heard the muffled tread of a horse, and the farmer rode up to the barn-door. When he had dismounted he came close to Tess, and remained looking musingly at the side of her face.
She had not turned at first, but his fixed attitude led her to look round, when she perceived that her employer was the native of Trantridge from whom she had taken flight on the high-road because of his allusion to her history (285-6). Hardys description of the dairy's dreary atmosphere coincidentally depicts the harsh treatment Tess received from Farmer Groby, who enjoyed making her life more difficult. Tess returned home to help take care of her mother.