Friday, February 10, 2017

Writing 'A Pair of Blue Eyes'

The cover to a recent mass-market edition
of Thomas Hardy's third novel
A Pair of Blue Eyes.
A Pair of Blue Eyes was Thomas Hardy's third novel. It is an interesting transitional book in that contains, like the two prior to it, conceptual threads of his never-published first effort The Poor Man and the Lady. Unlike those books, it was written entirely after his introduction to his future wife, Emma Gifford, and it was published under his own name. Before digging into the substance of the novel itself, it may prove valuable to examine the circumstances under which it was produced.

Hardy had completed Under the Greenwood Tree in what one might characterize as a weakened position in terms of his ability to bargain. His first novel, Desperate Remedies had ended up costing him money and had slipped into the remainder bin prior to the release of his follow-up. After fumbling for some time to find a publisher for his finished manuscript for Greenwood, he finally settled it with the same publisher, Tinsley, but only by selling the copyright for a mere £30, a pittance more than the sum he'd lost on his first book.

It was a dynamic time in Hardy's life. He was living between four places: his family home near Dorchester; Weymouth, where he pursued architectural work; London, where he mixed architecture and publishing business; and St. Juliot, where he was pursuing a future with someone who seems to have loved him as unequivocally as he loved her. It was a romance conducted largely by correspondence, punctuated by intense periods of dreaming together about the possibilities of the future. Emma became his sounding board and his copyist and, depending on how seriously you decide to take her later claims, his collaborator.

Reviews and sales on his second book had been stronger than his first and it was Tinsley this time who came to Hardy, in late June of 1872, interested in tying up his next effort for serialization and eventual publication. Hardy had already told him of a new story he was working on, drawn, at least in part, from his recent excursions to Cornwall. Tinsley offered him 200£ for the serialization and rights of a novel called A Pair of Blue Eyes to publish the novel but the first installment had to be published in September.

It was real money but it came with real demands from him as a writer. Some sources suggest Hardy had as many as five chapters written before he made the agreement with Tinsley. Taking that at face value, it represents about 10% of the book that was to be serialized monthly until its end in April of the following year. He completed the first installment by the first of August 1872 and then embarked for a visit, his first, with Emma's parents to discuss the prospect of her hand in marriage.

That visit is one of the black holes that Hardy installed in his own biography by destroying all references to it and speaking of it only in the vaguest terms. Emma's father, impoverished but apparently still possessing all the class prejudice of his upbringing, rejected Hardy outright and the grudge-bearing author never saw either of Emma's parents again. As A Pair of Blue Eyes has a ill-fated love between a low-born but ambitious man and a liberal-minded but tradition-bound heroine sitting at its core, it's a challenge not to project that narrative on to the void Hardy constructed around this devastating moment in his life.

Emma's parents may have rejected Hardy but Emma did not. It was their foolhardy attitudes about class and money that had abandoned her to become a maid-servant to her sister, who had married a septuagenarian clergyman under the duress of a similar paucity of options. Hardy loved her. He had ambition. He had talent. It was a gamble but, given her precarious position, it was, perhaps, the wisest bet available to her.

Unfortunately, Emma's parents were not the only parties opposed to the union. Hardy's mother, Jemima, was opposed to any of her children marrying and there was nothing about Emma that appeared to inspire feelings to the contrary. She seemed to resent the implication that her Thomas wasn't good enough for someone else's family and rejected Emma on similar grounds. The pair of lovers were faced with a future unendorsed by either of their respective families.

It was in this highly-uncertain but, doubtless, highly-emotionally charged period that Hardy completed his obligations (by March of 1873) to Tinsley LIKE A BOSS. A Pair of Blue Eyes was Hardy's first novel to be published under his own name and, by my reckoning, also the first that has moments (long stretches, even) where we encounter the full power of Thomas Hardy, the novelist. It sold well, was reviewed well and led immediately to the development and creation of Hardy's first great novel, Far from the Madding Crowd.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Review: Thomas Hardy by Claire Tomalin

Penguin Books. 2007. 528 pages
It has been said that a biography (and historical narratives in general) tell us more about the time in which and the audiences for which it is written than about the subject under scrutiny. Michael Millgate wrote two Hardy biographies, spaced some two decades apart in time, as well as restoring Hardy's autobiography from the poorly-edited pseudepigraphical biography, published under Florence Hardy's name, that it had been for the five decades prior to his involvement with the work. One might suggest that Millgate's treatment of Hardy was more historical than biographical as he felt a compulsion to unearth all of the resources that had been buried under Hardy's compulsion to control the narrative about his life. His work answers the questions, "What can be known about Thomas Hardy and how shall we weigh the validity and centrality of the sources available to us?"

Claire Tomalin's Thomas Hardy asks different questions and answers them for, perhaps, a different audience than Millgate's work. Her take on Hardy is more narrative than exhaustive, addressing central questions surrounding Hardy and his body of work free of the compulsion to overturn every stone and document the contents hidden beneath it. In this sense, she serves as a filter for Millgate's work, producing a biography aimed the uninitiated rather than specialists seeking to expand the framework of Hardy scholarship.

The most notable focus to Tomalin's narrative is the close scrutiny on Emma Hardy's diaries as a barometer for the internal pressures of the couple's difficult marriage. Tomalin's picture of the relationship as it evolved over the course of their lives is more nuanced than the one Millgate presents, if only because of her greater interest in it. The close reading of Emma's personal writing can sometimes take on the quality of text-based biblical criticism as Tomalin often invites us to infer feelings and resentments between them from what is not said. All told, this aspect of the book does offer a more robust picture of the relationship that would define much of Hardy's later poetry in absentia.

The rest of the book, however, feels like retreading ground already exhaustively covered by Millgate. Tomalin is the more lyrical writer between them and, for someone who only wants to read one book about Thomas Hardy, there would be no reason not to choose this one. Her reading of Hardy's work in conjunction with his personal narrative is often insightful and demonstrates clearly her commitment to her subject.

Perhaps there is an apples-to-oranges unfairness in comparing the work of one writer who has dedicated his scholarly life to a subject to that of another who interest is more journalistic, seizing upon a subject for the time it takes to write a credible biography before moving on to her next book but that's kind of where I ended up with Tomalin's Thomas Hardy. It was engaging enough to move me from introduction to conclusion. It made me rethink a few of my own ideas about the Hardy's marriage. It was written well-enough that reabsorbing information with which I was already familiar was no more tedious than it needed to be. But, at the end of the book, I didn't feel like I had so much learned more about Thomas Hardy as I had examined the particular intersection of elements to his life story that would compel Tomalin to write about him.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Review: The Phantom of Thomas Hardy

University of Wisconsin Press.
2016. 184 pages
2016 has been something of a remarkable year in that it has seen the release of three novels featuring Thomas Hardy as a character. I wrote earlier in the year about the first two of these, Winter by Christopher Nicholson and Max Gate by Damien Wilkins. The third, The Phantom of Thomas Hardy, is perhaps the most engaging to the admirer of Hardy's work who will, in its pages, recognize a common kinship with its author, Floyd Skloot, through his very personal quest to connect with Dorset and the places that shaped Hardy's life and his writing.

The Phantom of Thomas Hardy sits on the bleeding edge of modern fiction in that it poses as a memoir while slyly inserting elements of fiction alongside Skloot's very believable and vulnerable writing about himself, his wife, and their journey to Dorset. He expands the range of the novel beyond an extended trip to Hardy country with his wife by including in a much larger narrative about Hardy's longstanding presence in his intellectual life. Skloot's presence in the work is also informed by his decades-long process of coping with neurological eccentricities that came with the development and recovery from brain lesions in the 1980s.

These eccentricities, in fact, form the fulcrum of the suspension of our disbelief throughout the novel as Skloot is visited, numerous times throughout the novel, by the titular phantom of Thomas Hardy as he explores the locales that served as the backdrop for the pivotal moments in Hardy's life. Even as Skloot questions the validity of his own experiences against the expectations of a mundane world, the reader is invited to wonder where the line between what happened and what is imagined within the book actually lies.

It will be difficult for Hardy's admirers not to identify with Skloot and his journey in this book. His trip to Dorset is informed by a lifetime shared with Hardy's work. The narrative isn't merely a travelogue to Dorset. Skloot cuts directly to the heart of why Thomas Hardy and his work still speak to an audience more than a century removed. His first-person account serves as a crucible for the work, the man, the place and the reader to intermingle in a way that reflects my own internal experience with Hardy's work and, I suspect, that of many others.

The ending of the book wraps up just a little too neatly for my taste, having the effect of showing how a magic trick is performed just before its awe-inspiring climax. I was enjoying Skloot's high-wire act, balancing fact and fiction so deftly that I couldn't distinguish between them and the close of the novel definitely dispels that in a way that is unmistakable. It reminded me of an element of Max Gate that drew me out of the narrative at nearly the same point in the book. Perhaps both intended it to serve as a kind of narrative frontality to underscore the fictional nature of all seemingly biographical writing?

It didn't spoil the book for me in either case but I was perfectly happy to let this one close without being reminded that the otherwise note-perfect writing was not just a love letter to Thomas Hardy but also to his many fans. As Hardy himself might note, there is nothing unsavory in giving oneself over to the passion evoked by a well-written love letter but there is wisdom in retaining some small piece of the self in skepticism because love is prone, by the very selflessness of its nature, to overselling its own durability.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported this blog by reading this year. Please enjoy this drawing of the famous window serenade scene from Under the Greenwood Tree as rendered by my lovely wife Shayna Pond!

Happy holidays and a very merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Under the Greenwood Tree Part 7 - The Hazards of Love

Fancy Day and her suitors from the 2005 BBC adaptation of
Under the Greenwood Tree.
The eccentricities of Under the Greenwood Tree's love story really stuck out to me after watching the 2005 BBC interpretation of the novel, as adapted by Ashley Pharoah and directed by Nick Laughland. As a film considered on its own merits, it's a light-fare historical romance that features competent acting and direction and asks little of its audience. As an adaptation of Under the Greenwood Tree, it's a dismal failure because it misses (or ignores) the fact that the novel is not a romance but a romantic tragedy.

The only meaningful tension in Dick and Fancy's year-long journey to the altar is in its utter frivolousness. It is a given that Fancy, having completed her training as a teacher and moving into the parish, is going to marry someone. Her father explains it plainly to Dick when he first presents himself for her hand.

'Well, and do ye know what I live in such a miserly way for when I've got enough to do without it, and why I maker her work as a schoolmistress instead of living here?'


'That if any gentleman, who sees her to be his equal in polish should want to marry her, and she want to marry him, he shan't be superior to her in pocket.'

Now, in the film, this exchange is sold to the audience as evidence of Geoffrey Day's prejudice towards the potential of the working class as Dick is demonstrating through his action that he intends to grow his father's business into something more than what it has been. By saying that Fancy has been groomed to marry a man who can take care of her to the standard to which she has become accustomed, Geoffrey is implying that Dick will never be able to do that. We, who are swayed Dick's can-do attitude and his ability to transcend his meagre circumstances, believe like Dick and Fancy that he can and will.

One can find only last-minute assertion of this character trait or aspiration in the book. There is every reason to believe that Dick is going to wind up in a place only slightly better than the one his father currently occupies: sincere, honest, respected among his peers and slightly less working poor due to the infusion of Geoffrey Day's money and status.

Perhaps if their love is something truly magical, we should applaud this union anyway? Let's assume that it is. Again, Geoffrey Day:

'D'ye know what her mother was?'


'A teacher in a landed family's nursery, who was foolish enough to marry the keeper of the same establishment;'

Though Day was able to marshal the resources, through his connection with the Lord of the county, to raise his social status, it comes as cold consolation as Fancy's mother is dead. His sacrifice is to his daughter, whom he had hoped to push up into the next class. Even if Dick is able to raise himself by some miracle into Geoffrey's status (as he might in marrying his daughter), the net elevation for Fancy is still zero.

And again, if their love is magical and enduring, perhaps that's ok too?

Before approaching that question, let's consider her alternatives. Farmer Shiner, as a spouse, would not gain Fancy a particular elevation in class, though it would boost her status. Parson Maybold, on the other hand, has the best path to give her both, as he is presented in both book and film as a thoughtful, educated and somewhat ambitious man. This post in Mellstock is just a test run for his assumed social ascent to follow.

Hardy gives remarkable little time in the book towards developing either alternate suitor as a character of any depth. Farmer Shiner gets the better treatment of the two at least in terms of time in the story. He emerges almost immediately as Dick's rival for Fancy's affections and Geoffrey Day sees him as the natural match for her. Hardy, however, gives us almost no reasons to believe that, other than her father's wishes, Fancy might develop a reciprocal feeling for him. He is presented as boorish, awkward and socially obtuse.

As for Parson Maybold, Hardy leaves the development of his character and, thus, his interest in Fancy until late in the book. The locals speculate early on that the two would make a natural couple but it is not until much later that the possibility of an actual romance between the pair rears its head. Like Shiner, Maybold is left as a cipher who we really only see in terms of what his offer of marriage could provide to Fancy from a social and material standpoint.

The filmmakers saw this as a point that obviously needed punching up if we were to take either man seriously as a rival. Under their vision, Shiner gains a vulnerable side that he is able to show Fancy through his steadfast pursuit. When she finally rejects his advances, it feels like a genuine moment and makes us like her a little better in her delicate handling of his feelings. The Parson is given, likewise, more character development and emerges as someone that the audience could probably live with Fancy having dumped Dick for. But, she doesn't and that potential sails off into the sunset, leaving her to fend with the future with Dick alongside her.

But, if their love is magical and enduring, that's ok, right?

The film's creators take their cue from other Hardy works, like Far from the Madding Crowd, and say, "Yes." Fancy has been presented with three roughly equal suitors in terms of their relative virtues; Shiner, who offers financial stability and a self-awareness of his own limitations as a partner who can inspire great passion in her; Maybold, who offers culture, education and the promise of upward social mobility; and Dick, who offers her youthful virility, sincerity and an ambition to move upward slightly status through dint of his hard work. She chooses Dick and they all live happily ever after.

While Hardy's young master Dewy is certainly sincere and virile, he's also something that the film misses (or omits) entirely - namely a member of the Mellstock community. This is the tragedy of the novel. Because members of the Mellstock community are not passionate about their wives or husbands nor do they demonstrate a clear understanding of how and why they came to be married at all.

Mrs. Penny turned around. 'Well, 'tis humps and hollers with the best of us; but still and for all that, Dick and Fancy stand as fair a chance of having a bit of sunsheen as any married pair in the land.'

'Ay, there's no gainsaying it.'

Mrs. Dewy came up, talking to one person and looking at another. 'Happy, yes," she said. ''Tis always so when a couple is so exactly in tune with one another as Dick and she.'

But how exactly in tune are Dick and Fancy? Fancy who accepts another man's invitation to marry while engaged to Dick? Fancy, whom Maybold sees clearly upon his discovery of her duplicity, as "less an angel than a woman"? Hardy lays it all out plain in the novel's closing.

'Fancy,' he said, 'why we are so happy is because there is such full confidence between us. Ever since that time you confessed to that little flirtation with Shiner by the river...I have thought how artless and good you must be to tell o' such a trifling thing and to be so frightened about it as you were. It has won me to tell you my every deed and word since then. We'll have no secrets from each other darling, will we ever? - no secret at all.'

'None from to-day,' said Fancy. 'Hark! what's that?'

From a neighbouring thicket was suddenly heard to issue in a loud, musical, and liquid voice--

'Tippiwit! swe-e-et! ki-ki-ki! Come hither, come hither, come hither!"

'O, 'tis the nightingale,' murmured she, and thought of a secret she would never tell.

And so it was that Fancy Day, educated and groomed to move out of the orbit of the Mellstock community by virtue of a good marriage, squandered her father's sacrifice to marry an handsome but otherwise ordinary young man who fell in love with the first pretty girl he met.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Under the Greenwood Tree Part 6 - Marriage and Jemima Hardy's Curious Philosophy

It's wot bwings us togevva today. 
I like a story with a bad moral. My sonnies, all true stories have a course touch or a bad moral, depend upon't. If the storytellers could ha' got decency and good morals from true stories, who'd ha troubled to invent parables? [Reuben Dewy]

I have reserved the love story that provides Under the Greenwood Tree with the bulk of its plot for the end of the discussion because its role in the novel is both slight and strange. Judged through the lens of great literature about the joys and hazards of young love, the story of Dick Dewy and Fancy Day's journey from strangers to spouses lacks on many levels. Both characters are written so flatly that they can hardly be said to have a personality at all. They have no interests drawing them together other than the fact that they are both described as being of above average attractiveness. The obstacles that arise along the way are either flimsy or ultimately brushed aside by something nonsensical. As a courting narrative, it is strangely uninspired by these deficiencies.

Where it fails in satisfying common expectation, though, Under the Greenwood Tree is rich in tantalizing opportunities to examine Thomas Hardy's anxieties about the rituals of love and marriage at a particularly momentous junction in his life. The novel was placed into its final form just after Hardy had met his own future wife, Emma, though it is suggested that some amount of it had been written prior to that meeting. Given the novel's intimate connection to Hardy's birthplace and his penchant for blending the biographical and fictional in his writings, I find the idea that it offers some of the clearest glimpses at Hardy's own inherited ideas (and distrust) of the institution of marriage to be too compelling to ignore. 

This is valuable information because Thomas Hardy's mother, Jemima, was known to hold some fairly curious notions about it herself and, miraculously, enforced them upon three of her four children. Only Tom escaped her expectations that the brothers and sisters should remain unmarried throughout their lives in the interest of maintaining some kind of clannish integrity and neither of his marriages yielded offspring. If that sounds weird, that's because it is. It's one of the enigmatic aspects of Hardy's life that baffles understanding, which is ironic because it positively haunts his work. One could say that it is what makes his art distinctive.

Throughout Under the Greenwood Tree, there is a recurring theme about love suggesting that is a kind of mania that robs both future husband and wife of their sanity and, once it's begun, there is no recovery for which one might hope. It is pronounced within the novel because it is not only demonstrated by the courting narrative but echoed by the members of the community who witness it.

After the Quire has serenaded Fancy Day on Christmas Eve, giving Dick his first glimpse of her, they retire to the church nearby to eat, drink and warm up before continuing their tour of the county. Suddenly, they realize that Dick has gone missing. After rattling through a list of possible tragedies that may have befallen him, Reuben declares:

'A strapping lad like Dick d'know better than let anything happen onawares,' Reuben remarked. 'There's sure to be some poor little scram reason for't staring us in the face all the while.' He lowered his voice to a mysterious tone: 'Neighbours, have ye noticed any sign of a scornful woman in his head, or suchlike?'

'Not a glimmer of such a body. He's as clear as water yet.'

'And Dicky said he should never marry,' cried Jimmy, 'but live at home always along wi' mother and we!'

'Ay, ay, my sonny; every lad has said that in his time.'

The answer was staring them "in the face all the while" as Dick has lingered at Fancy's window, where they later find him before moving on to play for the parson. There, Reuben makes a prophecy that Miss Day and the parson will become romantically involved, no doubt to his son's chagrin.

Prior to a party at the Dewy's later the next night, we are given this glimpse into Dick's parents' marriage. His mother remarks that, "Not one of my family were sich vulgar sweaters, not one of 'em. But Lord-a-mercy, the Dewys! I don't know how ever I cam' into such a family!" with his father reminding her that it was due to her "woman's weakness when I asked ye to jine us."

The subject of Reuben and Ann Dewy's courtship arises again when, much later in the book, Dick queries his father about how they came to be married.

"'Ann,' said I, as I was saying...'Ann,' I said to her when I was oiling my working-day boots wi' my head hanging down, 'Woot hae me?'...what came next I can't quite call up at this distance o' time. Perhaps your mother would know, --she's got a better memory for her little triumphs than I. However, the long and short o' the story is that we were married somehow, as I found out afterwards."

This notion of courtship amnesia is echoed by another community member, Mrs. Penny as she recalls how she broke with her first courting partner for her present husband, saying that "Penny asked me if I'd go snacks with him, and afore I knew what I was about a'most, the thing was done."

This metaphor of disassociation reaches into the plot itself at the book's climax, the wedding of Dick and Fancy. One would think that the wedding to which the book's action had been pointed for a few hundred pages would receive that classic Hardy description. Instead, we get this:

Now among dark perpendicular firs, like the shafted columns of a cathedral; now through a hazel copse, matted with primroses and wild hyacinths; now under broad beeches in bright young leaves they threaded their way into the high road over Yalbury Hill, which dipped at that point directly into the village of Geoffrey Day's parish; and in the space of a quarter of an hour Fancy found herself to be Mrs. Richard Dewy, though, much to her surprise, feeling no other than Fancy Day still.

This final note, about Fancy's surprise at her lack of transformation at this critical junction in her life, is the terminal ring of a warning bell that Hardy has been ringing throughout the book. In the final (and forthcoming) installment of our exploration of Under the Greenwood Tree, I'll be contrasting the novel with the Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of the novel from 2006 to show that while the book is a story of love, it is not one with a happy ending.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Under the Greenwood Tree Part 5 - The Social Contract

A cordwainer, that is, a maker of shoes;
differentiated from a cobbler
who merely repairs them.
The last major facet of Thomas Hardy's Dutch portrait of his Dorchester community in decline is more nebulous than the others I've outlined so far; specifically, the relationship between the individual and the larger community or social convention. I say that it's more nebulous because, unlike landscape descriptions or dialogue, it's rarely explicit in the text. It's implied in the ways that characters interact with one another.

It is, however, one of the central themes of the book, embodied in the disruption that Parson Maybold's installation brings to the community. Before the nature and scope of that disruption can be appreciated, it will be valuable to understand what it is that is being disrupted. There is a relationship between the land, the individual, the family and the community that can be thought of as a web that has been undisturbed for generations prior to the opening of the book. Individuals assume vocations (and in fact are defined by those vocations) based on the needs of the community and, in some cases, by the traditions that exist within the family into which they are born.

As the members of the quire gather in Reuben Dewy's home to drink cider and rehearse prior to the long night of caroling, Hardy uses this curious sequence, from the mouth of Mr. Penny, the shoemaker, to underscore the intimate nature of the relations between members of the community.

"Well," said the shoemaker, seeming to perceive that the interest the object had excited was greater than he had anticipated, and warranted the last's being taken up again and exhibited; "Now, whose foot do ye suppose this last was made for? It was made for Geoffrey Day's father over at Yalbury Wood. Ah, many's the pair o' boots he've had off the last. Well, when 'a died, I used the last for Geoffrey, and have ever since, though a little doctoring was wanted to make it do. Yes, a very queer natured last it is now, 'a believe," he continued, turning it over caressingly. "Now, you notice that there" (pointing to a lump of leather bradded to the toe), "that's a very bad bunion that he've had ever since 'a was a boy. Now, this remarkable large piece" (pointing to a patch nailed to the side), "shows a' accident he received by the tread of a horse, that squashed his foot a'most to a pomace. The horseshoe cam full-butt on this point, you see. And so I've just been over to Geoffrey's, to know if wanted his bunion altered or made bigger in the new pair I'm making."

In this one short speech, Hardy demonstrates that the whole of Geoffrey Day's life is bound up in Mr. Penny's shoemaking capabilities. The same is true of everyone else connected to the service he provides. He later asserts that he once identified a corpse otherwise unrecognizable from the bloat of drowning by the shape of the foot. It is no wonder then that when he produces a shoe intended for Geoffrey's daughter, Fanny, it is viewed by those in the room as an intimately tied to her person as if she'd suddenly appeared in the room. Reuben's son, Dick, uses it to fill in the gaps in his imagination about her, while noting that it filled him with "a delicate feeling that he had no right to do so without having first asked the owner of the foot's permission." Penny makes an interesting distinction about the boot though, noting that he "don't care to mend boots I don't make," (because he is a cordwainer, a maker of shoes, not a cobbler, a repairer of them) suggesting that, though born of the community, Fancy Day is apart from it in a way that her father is not.

Another passage, describing the exterior of Mr. Penny's shop, outlines a similar idea from another angle, noting that:

No sign was over his door; in fact--as with old banks and mercantile houses--advertising in any shape was scorned, and it would have been felt as beneath his dignity to paint up, for the benefit of strangers, the name of an establishment whose trade came solely by connection based on personal respect.

This notion that the labor and creativity of the individuals in the community belongs solely to the community asserts itself quite forcefully on one of the two central plots; namely, the eviction of the Mellstock Quire as the principal music providers in the church.

To Parson Maybold, someone with roots in the region but not a member of the community, there is little gravity in the decision to "modernize" the church by replacing the string ensemble with an organ. It is the most obvious outcome of having a) an organ b) someone who can play it (Fancy) and c) a wealthy supporter who has asked him to make the change (Fancy's other suitor, Farmer Shiner). Ironically, all three people who are involved in the decision --The Parson, Fancy, and Farmer Shiner-- are excluded by circumstances from the community: The Parson, by birth and education; Fancy by education and slightly elevated social status stemming from her father's relationship with the Earl of Wessex; and Shiner by his wealth.