The Narrator's Knowledge in "The Melancholy Hussar"

Laura Lisabeth Prinselaar '06, Lakehead University (Canada)

Phyllis's resolve is not as strong as she would like it to be in the passage which relates that she will not flee with her foreign lover, but he is an honourable man who does not attempt to take advantage of her weakness. This passage suggests that the narrator has heard the story on more than one occasion (perhaps even from elders in the community, as well as from Phyllis) because of the word "always," though that is not the impression that Hardy's persona gives at the beginning of the narrative. Considering that the writer-narrator kept "The Melancholy Hussar" as an unpublished work for so many years, it is unlikely to have contained such a flaw in continuity. Instead, that "She always attributed her success . . . to her lover's honour" should be read as proof that the narrator heard the story first-hand, Phyllis may have said something like "I always knew he could have changed my mind, had he attempted to persuade me to accompany him." The theme of the honourable lover who refrains from manipulating Phyllis versus that of the dishonourable fiancé who deceives out of cowardliness is exemplified in this example of the course of honour pursued by both Phyllis and her legionaire.


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Last modified 29 April 2004