The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion

by

Thomas Hardy

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The unnamed narrator is a man from the part of the English countryside in which the story takes place. He was told the story by Phyllis many years ago, when he was a teenager and she was 75. The narrator plays no part in the events of the story, but mentions that he has visited the churchyard where the two soldiers and Phyllis are buried. He is the first to share the tale widely, having waited many years to do so out of respect for Phyllis’s wishes that it be kept secret until she had been dead a long time.

Narrator Quotes in The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion

The The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion quotes below are all either spoken by Narrator or refer to Narrator. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Captivity, Restriction, and Escape Theme Icon
).
Part 1 Quotes

The oblivion which in her modesty and humility she courted for herself has only partially fallen on her, with the unfortunate result of inflicting an injustice upon her memory; since such fragments of her story as got abroad at the time, and have been kept alive ever since, are precisely those which are most unfavourable to her character.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Phyllis Grove
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

The daughter’s seclusion was great, but beyond the seclusion of the girl lay the seclusion of the father. If her social condition was twilight, his was darkness. Yet he enjoyed his darkness, while her twilight oppressed her.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Phyllis Grove, Dr. Grove/Phyllis’s Father
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2 Quotes

Ever since her childhood it had been Phyllis’s pleasure to clamber up this fence and sit on the top—a feat not so difficult as it may seem, the walls in this district being built of rubble, without mortar, so that there were plenty of crevices for small toes.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Phyllis Grove
Related Symbols: The Garden Wall
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

Phyllis used to say that his English, though not good, was quite intelligible to her, so that their acquaintance was never hindered by difficulties of speech. Whenever the subject became too delicate, subtle, or tender, for such words of English as were at his command, the eyes no doubt helped out the tongue, and—though this was later on—the lips helped out the eyes. In short this acquaintance, unguardedly made, and rash enough on her part, developed and ripened.

Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

The stone wall of necessity made anything like intimacy difficult; and he had never ventured to come, or to ask to come, inside the garden, so that all their conversation had been overtly conducted across this boundary.

Related Symbols: The Garden Wall
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3 Quotes

This account—though only a piece of hearsay, and as such entitled to no absolute credit—tallied so well with the infrequency of his letters and their lack of warmth, that Phyllis did not doubt its truth for one moment; and from that hour she felt herself free to bestow her heart as she should choose. Not so her father; he declared the whole story to be a fabrication.

Page Number: 9-10
Explanation and Analysis:

Phyllis had not the smallest intention of disobeying him in her actions, but she assumed herself to be independent with respect to her feelings. She no longer checked her fancy for the Hussar, though she was far from regarding him as her lover in the serious sense in which an Englishman might have been regarded as such. The young foreign soldier was almost an ideal being to her, with none of the appurtenances of an ordinary house-dweller; one who had descended she knew not whither; the subject of a fascinating dream—no more.

Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4 Quotes

Without him her life seemed a dreary prospect, yet the more she looked at his proposal the more she feared to accept it—so wild as it was, so vague, so venturesome. She had promised Humphrey Gould, and it was only his assumed faithlessness which had led her to treat that promise as nought. His solicitude in bringing her these gifts touched her; her promise must be kept, and esteem must take the place of love. She would preserve her self-respect. She would stay at home, and marry him, and suffer.

Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

She looked into it, saw how heavy her eyes were, and endeavoured to brighten them. She was in that wretched state of mind which leads a woman to move mechanically onward in what she conceives to be her allotted path. Mr Humphrey had, in his undemonstrative way, been adhering all along to the old understanding; it was for her to do the same, and to say not a word of her own lapse.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Phyllis Grove, Humphrey Gould
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 5 Quotes

The spot at the bottom of the garden where she had been accustomed to climb the wall to meet Matthäus, was the only inch of English ground in which she took any interest; and in spite of the disagreeable haze prevailing she walked out there till she reached the well-known corner. […] She observed that her frequent visits to this corner had quite trodden down the grass in the angle of the wall, and left marks of garden soil on the stepping-stones by which she had mounted to look over the top. Seldom having gone there till dusk, she had not considered that her traces might be visible by day.

Related Symbols: The Garden Wall
Page Number: 18-19
Explanation and Analysis:

Their graves were dug at the back of the little church, near the wall. There is no memorial to mark the spot, but Phyllis pointed it out to me. While she lived she used to keep their mounds neat; but now they are overgrown with nettles, and sunk nearly flat. The older villagers, however, who know of the episode from their parents, still recollect the place where the soldiers lie. Phyllis lies near.

Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
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Narrator Character Timeline in The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion

The timeline below shows where the character Narrator appears in The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Secrecy, Rumor, and Storytelling Theme Icon
The narrator sets the scene for a story he was told many years ago, which he’s telling... (full context)
Part 5
Captivity, Restriction, and Escape Theme Icon
Love vs. Societal Expectations Theme Icon
Secrecy, Rumor, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Their unmarked graves lie next to each other in the churchyard, a place the narrator only knows because Phyllis showed him. Phyllis keeps the graves well-maintained for the rest of... (full context)