A Pair of Blue Eyes: by Thomas Hardy - Short Summary

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A PAIR OF BLUE EYES (1873)

      A Pair of Blue Eyes is the story of the love of a young architect Stephen Smith and Elfride Swancourt, the daughter of a vicar. On the northern coast of Cornwall the characters of this novel move. Stephen Smith had come to Endlestow to repair a church tower and fell in love with the blue-eyed beautiful daughter of the vicar of the church. The old vicar is willing to unite them. But when he comes to know that the architect does not belong to a good family his willingness changes into stem objection. Love is blind and cares for none. Both run away to be married but their elopement remains futile because the girl proves weak in the love. She vacillates. Stephen accepts a job in India. He goes there to make his fortune.

      In his absence, Henry Knight takes his place and begins to woo Elfride. He is a man of letters. He had been a friend and patron of Stephen. Once, Knight saves the life of Elfride and the result is their betrothal. Knight is the worshipper of chastity; frailty in character is despised by him. He never kisses any woman and wants that his bride should also be untouched. A woman who had witnessed the elopement of Elfride with Stephen and who due to some personal grudge wanted to avenge herself on Elfride, tells her history to Knight. Knight knows no forgiveness. He breaks the engagement and cherishes in his heart a hate for Poor Elfride, whose heart is very rudely broken, can do nothing except shed tears.

      When Stephen returns from India and comes to know that Elfride is unmarried yet, he runs to her, for he still has a soft corner for her. Knight also comes to know about the reality of the elopement. Now he wants to forgive and he also rushes to Elfride. The train which is carrying them both is also carrying the corpse of Elfride who had committed suicide. The beauty of the novel lies in its Shakespearean dialogues.

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