Under the Greenwood Tree

by Thomas Hardy

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Characters Discussed

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Richard (Dick) Dewy

Richard (Dick) Dewy, a young carter with musical inclinations and talent. One Christmas season when he goes caroling with the church choir, for whom he plays accompaniment on his violin, he falls under the spell of Fancy Day, the new schoolmistress in the parish. When his companions look for him after he disappears from the group, they find him under the girl’s window, already in love. Dick Dewy begins courting Fancy at the Christmas party held in his parents’ home, but he soon finds he has a rival for her hand. Although she favors his courtship and reciprocates his affection, his hopes are somewhat dashed for a time by her father’s refusal to consent to a marriage. The father claims that his daughter is too well-educated for the young carter. The girl herself overcomes her father’s objections and wins his consent. A little more than a year after he sees her for the first time, Dick Dewy weds Fancy Day beneath a great tree near her father’s home.

Fancy Day

Fancy Day, the young schoolmistress at Mellstock, a pretty young woman well educated as a teacher and a musician. Her beauty and talent immediately attract admirers, including Dick Dewy, who later becomes her husband. Fancy is a pleasant young woman, almost guileless, whose only fault, if it is that, is the pleasure she takes in her appearance and her clothes. Her obvious concern about her appearance twice creates courtship problems, for Dick Dewy resents her love of apparel. Once Fancy is tempted into jilting her fiancé. This temptation occurs when the local vicar, Mr. Maybold, appears suddenly at the schoolhouse and proposes marriage. Fancy, taken by the idea of marrying higher than her station, says yes. The next day, upon consideration, she writes to the vicar and withdraws her answer; she is also wise enough to keep this incident a secret from her husband after their marriage.

Mr. Shiner

Mr. Shiner, a farmer of means and Fancy Day’s admirer. Although his courtship meets with no particular favor from the girl, it does create some problems for his rival, Dick Dewy. As a churchwarden, Mr. Shiner introduces an organ to replace the church choir, with Fancy Day as the organist. Dick Dewy’s problem then is one of conflicting loyalties, his loyalty to his beloved and his loyalty to the church choir. Mr. Shiner’s suit is favored by Fancy’s father, but Mr. Day’s approval fails to change his daughter’s mind.

Geoffrey Day

Geoffrey Day, Fancy’s father and agent for a great landowner. Pleased with his daughter’s beauty and talent, he wants her to marry well. He opposes her marriage to Dick Dewy as being beneath the girl and favors her marriage to Mr. Shiner, a well-to-do farmer. When Fancy goes several weeks without apparent appetite, Mr. Day becomes concerned about her health and is thus tricked into consenting to her marriage with the young carter.

Mr. Maybold

Mr. Maybold, the local vicar, a good-looking bachelor. Admiring Fancy Day and not knowing that she is engaged to marry Dick Dewy, he proposes to her. She accepts his proposal, but the very next day the vicar learns, to his sorrow, of her previous engagement to Dick Dewy. As an honorable man, Mr. Maybold writes a courteous letter to the girl asking to withdraw his proposal. In the meantime, Fancy has written him a note breaking their engagement. He later advises her to keep the incident a secret. Mr. Maybold creates a disturbance in the parish life by supplanting the choir with an organ, at the request of Mr. Shiner, one of...

(This entire section contains 744 words.)

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the churchwardens. His innovation is at first highly resented, but it is finally accepted by the choir because of his sympathetic attitude toward them and their displacement.

Reuben Dewy

Reuben Dewy, Dick Dewy’s father. As a member of the parish choir, he is the spokesman when the men go in a group to the vicarage to protest their being turned out of service.

William Dewy

William Dewy, Dick Dewy’s grandfather and leader of the parish choir. He is upset when his lifelong service to the church is ended by the introduction of an organ.

Mrs. Day

Mrs. Day, Fancy Day’s stepmother. She is an odd woman whom her husband regards as a cross he must bear. Her behavior, that of a person suffering from mental illness, is entirely humorous.




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