The follkowing passage constitutes the pivotal moment in the lives of Phyllis, Matthäus Tina, and Humphrey Gould.

She always attributed her success in carrying out her resolve to her lover's honour, for as soon as she declared to him in feeble words that she had changed her mind, and felt that she could not, dared not, fly with him, he forbore to urge her, grieved as he was at her decision. Unscrupulous pressure on his part, seeing how romantically she had become attached to him, would no doubt have turned the balance in his favour. But he did nothing to tempt her unduly or unfairly.

On her side, fearing for his safety, she begged him to remain. This, he declared, could not be. [Wessex Tales]

Phyllis has made the moral and honourable decision to stand by her promise and follow through with her engagement to Gould; she chooses the course of duty over the promptings of her heart. Tina, the Hussar, also behaves according to the best of moral codes, and unselfishly refuses to try to persuade Phyllis to reverse her decision. The star-crossed lovers' lives have been forever changed by their decisions, as has Gould's. Although he is unaware of what Phyllis nearly did, her decision to stay will undoubtedly have an impact on Gould's life, whether she decides to denounce Gould to her father or not. It seems that in punishing Phyllis with loneliness and Tina with death by firing squad Hardy is illustrating that no matter what the motives or the ethics behind one's choices, fate will act capriciously.


Victorian Overview Authors Thomas Hardy

Entered the Victorian Web 29 April 2004; last modified 9 June 2014