A Pair of Blue Eyes
By Thomas Hardy
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A Pair of Blue Eyes is Thomas Hardy's third published novel. It is basically the story of a blue-eyed beauty, named Elfride Swancourt, who has to choose between her two suitors who come from completely different social backgrounds. Her heart is more attracted to Stephen Smith, a mason's son and a good-natured man with professional aspirations, yet her mind tells her that she has to choose Henry Knight, the older and richer gentleman who represents London society. Thus, in most of the narrative, Elfride is depicted as an innocent young woman who keeps on wavering between passion and reason. The novel is also believed to be partly autobiographical, drawing a parallel between Elfride and Hardy's own beloved and wife, Emma Gifford. Later in the novel, Elfride goes with Henry when her family learns about Stephen's humble origins and dismisses him. Generally, Hardy's novel highlights the importance of social differences in late-Victorian English society. It equally proves Hardy's genius as a storyteller and as a masterful painter of both society and landscape.