Estimated read time: 6 min read

Table of Contents

  1. List of Characters

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Elfride SwancourtProtagonist
Stephen SmithProtagonist
Henry KnightAntagonist
Mrs. SwancourtSupporting Character
Mr. SwancourtSupporting Character
Jocelyn PierstonSupporting Character

Role Identification

In Thomas Hardy's novel "A Pair of Blue Eyes," several characters play significant roles in shaping the story. Elfride Swancourt, the main character, serves as the protagonist, while Stephen Smith and Henry Knight also have prominent roles. Supporting characters like Mrs. Swancourt, Mr. Swancourt, and Jocelyn Pierston contribute to the development of the plot.

Character Descriptions

Elfride Swancourt

Elfride Swancourt is a young and beautiful woman in her late teens. She has fair hair, striking blue eyes, and a delicate figure. Elfride is portrayed as innocent and vivacious, embodying the qualities of a Victorian heroine. Her appearance and demeanor attract the attention of both Stephen Smith and Henry Knight, leading to complicated relationships.

Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith is described as a tall and handsome young man with a gentle disposition. He is an architect and a self-educated man, driven by ambition. Stephen falls in love with Elfride at first sight and is deeply devoted to her throughout the story. He is sincere, passionate, and willing to sacrifice everything for love.

Henry Knight

Henry Knight is a middle-aged literary man who meets Elfride while researching material for his book. He is described as having a scholarly appearance with a beard and glasses. Knight is initially attracted to Elfride's beauty and youth. As the story progresses, Henry becomes a rival to Stephen for Elfride's affection, leading to conflicts and tension between the characters.

Mrs. Swancourt

Mrs. Swancourt is Elfride's mother, a kind-hearted and caring woman. She is supportive of her daughter's wishes and desires. Mrs. Swancourt plays a significant role in shaping Elfride's choices and influencing her relationships with Stephen and Henry.

Mr. Swancourt

Mr. Swancourt is Elfride's father, a widower, and a clergyman. He is depicted as an absent-minded scholar who is often preoccupied with his studies. Mr. Swancourt's absent-mindedness contributes to the challenges faced by Elfride throughout the story.

Jocelyn Pierston

Jocelyn Pierston is a supporting character who plays a vital role in Elfride's life. He is an older man who becomes infatuated with Elfride's beauty and pursues her affection. Jocelyn's presence adds complexity to the relationships between Elfride, Stephen, and Henry.

Character Traits

Elfride Swancourt:

  • Innocent
  • Vivacious
  • Beautiful
  • Indecisive
  • Romantic
  • Sensitive

Stephen Smith:

  • Ambitious
  • Devoted
  • Sincere
  • Passionate
  • Idealistic
  • Determined

Henry Knight:

  • Scholarly
  • Competitive
  • Jealous
  • Reserved
  • Mature
  • Intellectual

Character Background

Elfride Swancourt:

Elfride is the daughter of a clergyman and grows up in a small village. She has had a sheltered upbringing and is well-educated. Elfride's beauty and charm attract the attention of both Stephen and Henry, leading to a love triangle that shapes her character arc.

Stephen Smith:

Stephen is a self-educated man who comes from a modest background. He aspires to become a successful architect and improve his social standing. Stephen's encounter with Elfride awakens his romantic side and drives him to pursue his ambitions even further.

Henry Knight:

Henry is a successful literary man who has achieved recognition for his work. He is older than Elfride and Stephen, bringing a level of maturity and experience to the story. Henry's intellectual pursuits and competitiveness contribute to the conflicts in the plot.

Character Arcs

Elfride Swancourt:

Elfride's character arc revolves around her journey from innocence to maturity. Throughout the story, she undergoes emotional turmoil, torn between Stephen's passionate love and Henry's intellectual companionship. As the plot progresses, Elfride learns important life lessons, gains independence, and ultimately makes a decision that shapes her future.

Stephen Smith:

Stephen's character arc follows his pursuit of success in his career and love life. Initially, he is driven by his infatuation with Elfride, but as the story unfolds, he faces setbacks and challenges. Stephen's arc highlights his growth as he learns to balance his ambition with his emotions.

Henry Knight:

Henry's character arc primarily focuses on his jealousy and competitiveness. He initially sees Elfride as a muse for his writing but becomes possessive and resentful when he realizes her attraction to Stephen. Throughout the story, Henry's arc explores his journey towards acceptance and self-reflection.


Elfride and Stephen:

Elfride and Stephen's relationship is marked by intense passion and devotion. Their love develops quickly but faces numerous obstacles due to external influences and misunderstandings. Despite the challenges, their bond evolves, and they learn to navigate the complexities of their emotions.

Elfride and Henry:

Elfride's relationship with Henry is initially based on intellectual companionship. However, as Henry becomes infatuated with Elfride, their relationship becomes strained. The tension between them creates conflict and contributes to the development of their characters.

Elfride and Jocelyn:

Jocelyn's infatuation with Elfride adds another layer of complexity to the story. While Elfride is flattered by Jocelyn's attention, she remains loyal to her feelings for Stephen. Jocelyn's presence serves as a catalyst for self-discovery and decision-making in Elfride's character.

In conclusion, "A Pair of Blue Eyes" by Thomas Hardy presents a compelling array of characters with intricate relationships. Elfride, Stephen, and Henry undergo significant character arcs, navigating love, ambition, and personal growth. Through their experiences, Hardy delves into the complexities of human emotions and the choices that shape our lives.