The short story of the “Melancholy Hussar” is such a sad and unhappy tale because the events that go on within the story are all very sad. The reader’s hopes go up and down all the way through the tale. As you read the story the author Thomas Hardy makes the reader feel very sad and unhappy, by the way he brings realism to the story. The time at which the story is set also makes it sad because the rules of society make it much harder for the young girl Phyllis who is the main character, to have a relationship with a man that she really loved rather than someone whom her father considered to be the right person for her.

Also the constant rising and dashing of hope for the future bring over the feeling of despair. This story has a lot of bitter irony about some of the events that make it sad and unhappy, an example of this is when Hardy uses coincidence, bad luck, fate, and chance to the story. Phyllis is always on a roller coaster going backwards and forwards, going from happy to sad. One way in which Hardy makes the reader think that the story is real is by describing the scenery at which the story is set and the time it was set in. Thomas Hardy starts the story by saying “Phyllis told me with her own lips”, this makes the story have realism.

Hardy also says that this is a story he could never forget. Hardy presents the story to us as if he is telling the story directly to the reader. At the beginning of the story, Hardy makes the story seem real, he does this by saying, “here is the place”, when he says this it makes you feel as if you are really there and he is showing that particular place to you. Another example of hardy reading directly to the reader is at the end of the story when the two soldiers Matthaus Tina and Christoph are executed, Hardy writes the inscription of what is written on their gravestone.

This makes you feel very sad and that you are really there experiencing what is going on. We are told that the soldiers’ uniform was strange “epaulettes, queer cocked hats, breeches, gaiters, and ponderous cartridge box and buckled shoes”. Another example of realism is when Hardy talks about the dates and ages, this gives it realism for example “she was then an old lady of seventy five and her auditor a lad of fifteen”. At the start of the story Phyllis presents herself to be very unhappy. Phyllis is very lonely; she lives alone with her father whose hobby is trimming the box-tree borders to the plot.

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She is so lonely that every noise she hears her imagination thinks it is a visitor, for example “like the brushing skirt of a visitor” was heard on the doorstep it proved t it proved to be a scudding leaf. She is also thinking that she is seeing things, like when she imagined that she could see someone at the end of the gate at dusk, was actually a yew bush. Thomas Hardy used light and dark imagery such as her social condition was twilight and her father was darkness. Hardy raises the hopes of the reader when Humphrey Gould proposes to her and is accepted; now there are hopes for Phyllis’s life to get better.

But Humphrey Gould has to go away, one year passes and still no Humphrey Gould, all she gets are some letters, which are really very cool. Now the reader’s hopes for Phyllis drop. The next event in the story is when Phyllis meets Matthaus Tina. She meets him out of pure coincidence when she is at the bottom of her garden, as she describes it a “solitary figure” walking along the path, this of course was Matthaus Tina (a German Hussar). A few days later Phyllis decides she will go back and see if Matthaus Tina was there again and he was.

They began to talk and they touched hands. In those days this was considered to be a really big step. At this point the reader hopes that Phyllis will be happy now she has met someone whom she really likes. The third time that Phyllis meets Matthaus, he is there for a very long time and when he returns to his camp he gets his stripes taken away from and he does not she that there is any point in staying so he asks Phyllis to run away with him. He asks to go back to Germany with him to live with his mum in Saarbruck.

Phyllis really wants to go because her father had realised that she had been seeing one of the German hussars and said she must go and stay with her aunt, which she really did not want to do. At this point the reader has hopes for a good future for Phyllis. The attitudes of the time do not help towards her decision because she is engaged to someone else which is considered to be wrong, she is seeing a solider this is wrong because he is socially beneath her and she is risking her good name and reputation. But she decides to go. At this point in the story just as she is going to be happy, Humphrey Gould comes back.

Phyllis thinks he is coming back to be with her, so she decides not to go with Matthaus Tina. Phyllis overhears a conversation between Humphrey Gould and a friend. He said, “Have you got the present safe? ” he replied, “Yes”. This makes Phyllis think he has come back to be with her and is giving her the present to say sorry. At this point for short while the reader’s hopes go up but they are soon to be dropped. Humphrey Gould has not come back to be with her he has come back to say he has married someone else and that there relationship is over.

Now Phyllis’s life is going downhill, she has lost Humphrey Gould and most of all Matthaus Tina who she really loves. The readers hopes go right down because Phyllis has lost everything she was ever happy with and is now worse than what she was at the beginning because she had there hopes of happiness and it has been snatched away from her. Just as the reader thinks nothing else could go wrong. She was as in her garden again just like she was when she met Matthaus Tina. Phyllis looked over the wall and could see two coffins, which lay empty on the ground.

Then she saw that it was Matthaus Tina and his friend Christoph who were the two men to be executed they were then executed and the colonel of the regiment said “turn them out” and the coffins were taken away. Just as this happened Phyllis fell from the wall and no one had noticed but she was found, but did not recover consciousness until a few days after. At this very last point in the story nothing could of made Phyllis even unhappier but to have seen, Matthaus Tina and Christoph be executed. There was a very sad ending to the story. Phyllis had lived until she was 87 years old and she still had not told anyone else the story.

She told the story to Thomas Hardy when she was very old, she remembered every little detail. When Phyllis was alive she always attended the graves of Matthaus Tina and Christoph when they grew over. The very last sentence in the story was “Phyllis lies near”; this says she is still on her own and very lonely and worst of all she is not buried next to Matthaus Tina. The conditions of that time made it hard for Phyllis to have a relationship with someone other than who her father said. This story is made by the twists of fate and coincidence all contribute to making this a very sad story.


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