Angel Clare's Parents (Family) in Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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      The family of Angel Clare is much less richly drawn than Tess’s but still Hardy distinguishes between the parents, with their rigid Evangelical faith, but fundamental charity to their fellow human beings, and the liberalism of thought. Angel’s is a middle-class family and the parents show concern at Angel’s choosing to marry a country girl. But at the same time they like their son, are capable of holding an idealized picture of country innocence. They from their first remarks to their last, show a far greater intolerance of people of a lower class than themselves. Hardy says nothing about the physical appearance of the parents but draws their characters with a loving and favorable hand. Their singleness of purpose, their simple Christian lives, help us to understand Angels’ background and the kind of thinking he can no longer accept.

The Father - Clergyman

      Mr. Clare, the father of Angel Clare is the Vicar of Emminster. His reputation is that of being the, “earnestness man in all Wessex”. He has married for the second time in life and Angel Clare is by his second wife. He has two other sons by his second marriage. We are told that he is a clergy of the old school, a low church clergy. Describing him one of the dairymaids at Talbothays says, “He is a God-fearing man of sixty-five, and has a face lined with thought and purpose.”

Their Sacrificing Nature

      The parents of Angel Clare are described as a self-denying pair who forget their own needs and those of their family in trying to help the needy parishioners. Although they would have liked Angel to marry the daughter of their friend, they keep an open mind regarding Tess and resume liking for her until they can meet her. Had Tess followed through on her plan to visit them, she would have enlisted their sympathy, for their hearts went out towards extreme cases. When they learn of Tess’s sin, their tenderness is instantly excited.

Mr. Clare—Considerate and Tolerant

      Mr. Clare has a deep love for the church and is devoted to it with his heart and soul. He leads a very simple life and manages to save some money with which he sends two of his elder sons to Cambridge. Later they are ordained and become true servants of God. Angle’s refusal to the ordained deters Mr. Clare from sending him to Cambridge because he felt “What was the good of education, if it was not to be used for the service of God. The money which is saved because of his not being sent to Cambridge is placed at his disposal to be invested in a farm at his discretion.”

His Theoretical Narrow-mindedness

      Mr. Clare is theoretically narrow-minded where religious doctrines are concerned. But practically he is quite forgiving and tolerant. Repentant sinners are no doubt forgiven by him but he also does not nurture any ill-will for those who do not repent. There are various instances which exhibit his unlimited generosity and kindness towards the parishioners. For example, the black pudding brought by Angel from Talkothays is given to a needy family and they keep the wine in reserve to be used as medicine for the poor and suffering. Tess misunderstood them but had she gone to him and his wife she would have been forgiven.

Mrs. Clare

      The mother of Angel Clare is a good-natured and kind-hearted lady. She seems to be a right match for Mr. Clare and is highly compatible with him. However, she is more of a snob than her husband. She is concerned whether Tess is of a good family and later urges Angel not to be anxious about a “mere child of the soil.” She is disappointed when Angel comes home without his bride and instinctively asks, “Angel there is no irritation in my mind or your father’s against you for this marriage; but we have thought it much better to reserve our liking for your wife till we could see her. And now you have not brought her. It seems strange.” She again asks Angel if Tess’s history will bear investigation. To Angel’s answer of Tess being “spotless”, she tells him that since Tess is pure and chaste, she would have been refined enough for her. She feels sure that Angels companionship and tuition will help Tess overcome any crudeness of manner.

Earns Self-respect

      Mr. Clare is a well-known person in Wessex. His fame extends beyond his own parish, for he has affected the lives of many people. He is of the Low Church school, Evangelical, and is regarded as an extremist own by his contemporaries. He wins the admiration of all for his thoroughness and his great energy in applying his principles. A man of apostolic simplicity in life and thought, he is known as good, kind, sincere, and the “earnestness” man in all Wessex. He is Sanguine as a wild, and he prays for Alec and other pinners. He wins the respect of Angel by the way he lives his life and for his unworldliness. He never once inquires whether Tess is wealthy or penniless, his major concern is whether she has a Pauline view of life. However, he is uncompromising—his fixed ideas cannot be altered—but he secretly mourns over his treatment of Angel and his “self-generated regrets are far better than the reproaches” his wife occasionally expresses. He has a strong sense of justice, however, and sets aside a sum every year for Angel to purchase or lease land.


      Mr. Clare has the gift of charity to the full and lives an exemplary life. He is an admirable character. The suffering humanity would be said of the corruption and misery if more people with his zeal and devotion to duty take to the service of religion.

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