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]

1. To what extent is this passage pivotal in Phyllis's "history"?

2. In what sense is the relationship of the German hussar and the daughter of a reclusive Wessex physician "star-crossed"?

3. To what extent is the parting of MatthŠus and Phyllis inevitable, and to what extent is it the result of mere coincidence?

4. How is the development of the characters and plot in this short story typical of Hardy's handling of his heroines' love-affairs?

5. How do Hardy's allusions to the Shakespeare heroines Desdemona and Cleopatra clarify Phyllis's behaviour in this passage towards the man she loves?

6. How does the gentlemanly behaviour of the "foreign barbarian" MatthŠus Tina here contrast that of "court follower" and scion of an ancient English family Humphrey Gould?

7. What is the chief difference between the recent film "The Scarlet Tunic" and Hardy's short story?

Five responses by Students in English 3412, Lakehead University, Ontario

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