Several moral lessons can be drawn from Hardy's intricate short story. One of these involves Sophy and Sam; one involves Vicar Twycott; one involves Twycott and Randolf. The moral lesson to be drawn from Sophy and Sam is that significant changes, sometimes even disastrous changes, can occur in life as a result of unresolved quarrels between loved ones. Had Sophy and Sam mended whatever it was they quarreled about--whatever it was that let loose havoc in their lives, especially Sophy's--then Sophy would not have continued to work for Twycott. As consequence, she would not have fallen and permanently injured her foot. As a result, Twycott would never have proposed marriage to her. Thus, Randolph would never have sent her miserable to an early grave.
'Sam Hobson has asked me to marry him, sir.'
'Well--do you want to marry?'
'Not much. But it would be a home for me. And we have heard that one of us will have to leave.'
A day or two after she said: 'I don't want to leave just yet, sir, if you don't wish it. Sam and I have quarrelled.'
He looked up at her. He had hardly ever observed her before, ...
The moral lesson to be drawn from Vicar Twycott is that pride and arrogant manipulation of another person's spirit and life result in artificiality that must at one time or another crumble; result in disappointment and unhappiness; result in failures and sorrows. Twycott knew marrying a village lass like Sophy was putting himself in an insupportable social situation. To solve this, for his own sake, not Sophy's, he hid out in a remote corner of London among working class people: "Sophy's milieu being a suburb of minor tradesmen and under-clerks." He was content and grew to like it, though Sophy always yearned for her nook in North Wessex. Twycott's education of Sophy, that had such small affect, wore her down--giving her the plaintive look the narrator describes--and made her inferior and a humiliation in her son's eyes:
she met the eyes of several of her observers by lifting her own, showing these to be soft, brown, and affectionate orbs, a little plaintive in their regard.
The moral lesson to be drawn from Vicar Twycott and Randolph is that while a child might have sympathies and kindness of heart "extending as far as to the sun and moon themselves," a hard-hearted and proud parent can dampen the fire of sympathetic love into an smoldering ember of self-righteous judgmentalism and that parentally instilled errors such as this one can be worsened by unmitigated negative influences imposed by educational institutions, a lesson dramatically relevant today.
His education had by this time sufficiently ousted his humanity to keep him quite firm; though his mother might have led an idyllic life with her faithful fruiterer ....