A Pair of Blue Eyes
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best of his heroines,34 but he well knew that both Elfride and the novel as a whole had been widely admired ever since the book’s first appearance and that Alfred Tennyson, as well as Patmore, had declared it to be his favourite novel.35 Northcliffe himself replied that he could recite ‘the story of A Pair of Blue Eyes backwards’.36 The novel’s publication history certainly bears witness to its popularity in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, and it seems to have been
‘You have an idea that Elfride died for you, no doubt,’ said Knight with a mournful sarcasm too nerveless to support itself. ‘Never mind. If we find that – that she died yours, I’ll say no more ever.’ ‘And if we find she died yours, I’ll say no more.’ ‘Very well – so it shall be.’ The dark clouds into which the sun had sunk had begun to drop rain in an increasing volume. ‘Can we wait somewhere here till this shower is over?’ said Stephen desultorily. ‘As you will. But it is not worth while.
whispered Knight. ‘And dead. Denied us both. I hate “false” – I hate it!’ Knight made no answer. Nothing was heard by them now save the slow measurement of time by their beating pulses, the soft touch of the dribbling rain upon their clothes, and the low purr of the blacksmith’s bellows hard by. ‘Shall we follow Elfie any farther?’ Stephen said. ‘No: let us leave her alone. She is beyond our love, and let her be beyond our reproach. Since we don’t know half the reasons that made her do as
in doubt whether she would meet with ridicule there. ‘That’s right. Now then, what is it about, dear?’ ‘About – well, it is a romance of the Middle Ages.’ ‘Knowing nothing of the present age, which everybody knows about, for safety you chose an age known neither to you nor other people. That’s it, eh? No, no; I don’t mean it, dear.’ ‘Well, I have had some opportunities of studying mediæval art and manners in the library and private museum at Endelstow House, and I thought I should like to try
episode. Ignoring conventional notions of womanly decorum, Elfride decides to walk on the parapet. Her unpremeditated act, literally placing her above the church, symbolizes her instinctive attempt to rise above the constraints imposed upon her by patriarchal society and its institutions. Her fall, however, suggests the futility of challenging the established system of male authority. Unsurprisingly, it is Knight who is responsible for this fall: his comments perturb her, shaking her confidence