Under the Greenwood Tree Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Under the Greenwood Tree: Part Three Chapter 1 to 4

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Part Three: Summer


Summary – Chapter One ‘Driving Out of Budmouth’, Chapter Two ‘Farther Along the Road’, Chapter Three ‘A Confession’ and Chapter Four ‘An Arrangement’

Dick sees Fancy as he drives along the main street in Budmouth. He tells her he will give her a lift to Mellstock and when she does not answer he climbs down and helps her up. They are both embarrassed initially as she still has not responded to his letter. She does not answer when he asks if Shinar means any more to her than he does. He asks why she does not answer and she says, “‘Because how much you are to me depends upon how much I am to you’”. He replies, “‘everything’” and puts his hand out towards her. She tells him to not touch her and starts when she sees a wagon approach.


When they move away from them, Dick asks her to tell him she loves him. She says it is not time to do that, and he says love cannot be put on and off “‘at a mere whim’” and asks her to be honest. She whispers tenderly that she does love him a little, and agrees he may call her Fancy and she will not call him Mr Dewy anymore.


In Chapter Two, they travel along and are caught behind a farmer’s cart. They are then overtaken by a brand new gig and the driver ‘and owner as it appeared’ is ‘really a handsome man’ and his companion is Shinar. As they pass, they both turn to look at Fancy.


Dick glances at Fancy at this moment and returns to his driving ‘with rather a sad countenance’. She asks him why he is silent and he replies “‘nothing’”. When she asks again, he says how differently she is when in love compared to how he is and says she looked flattered when the men stared at her. He also explains how Shinar persuaded the vicar to have her play the organ in church. She says truthfully that she did not know this and never wanted to turn the choir out of the church, and does not care “‘a morsel’” for Shinar.


The distance between Budmouth and Mellstock is 18 miles and 6 miles out of Budmouth they stop to feed the horse. Fancy takes a room for tea and he comes to her after seeing to the horse. She questions the propriety of this and says she has her position to think about. He proposes they get engaged, as she says she could sit with a young man if this were the case. She blushes at the proposal and says it is as though she meant him to say that.


He asks if she will be his wife and her heart grows ‘boisterous’. She says she will if her father will let her. He goes to kiss her and she says no. He draws back a little and she asks him to kiss her and then asks him to let her go as somebody is coming.


Dick emerges from the inn half an hour later, ‘and if Fancy’s lips had been real cherries, Dick’s would have appeared deeply stained’. He talks to the landlord who teases him about taking tea with a passenger, and Dick tells him they are engaged to be married.


Chapter Three begins three months later and the course of Dick and Fancy’s love has ‘run on vigorously during the whole time’. There is a cloud on Fancy’s horizon, though, as she tells Susan Dewy it appears that Dick has danced with a woman at a picnic.


When Dick enters, the narrator explains that he only danced with Fancy’s ‘rival’ out of ‘sheer despair’ of getting through the afternoon without Fancy. However, Fancy has ‘settled her plan of emotion’ and tells Dick she is in great trouble and has allowed herself to “‘fl…’”. He finishes her sentence and says “‘flirt’”. He is now miserable and asks who with, and she says “‘Shinar’”. They are in the garden and the silence is only broken by the sound of an apple falling.


She tells him Shinar said he would show her how to catch bullfinches by the stream. She looks guilty and Dick urges her to tell him everything. She says Shinar touched her hand and told her he wanted to marry her. Upset, Dick asks if she is willing to have him and she says no, and Dick comes to his senses a little. He says she has been exaggerating and has done so to make him jealous as he went to the party. He says he will not stand for it and walks away. She trots after him and asks that he forgive her. He stops when she tells him the ‘serious part’, that her father has given Shinar his consent to court her.


Dick takes this seriously, in Chapter Four, but the truth is that Geoffrey knows nothing about Fancy’s walks with Dick as they have been careful to not be seen in public after her father said he would have to think over their meeting together (and then forgot about it). She says her father has also written her a letter to say he wishes her to encourage Shinar. Dick wants to see her father immediately, but she says they need to “‘win his brain through his heart’”, and thinks this is the way to always manage people.


She says she is going to her father’s a week on Saturday to help with the ‘honey-taking’ and he could come to her there and have something to eat and drink and not say explicitly why he is there, but let her father guess. Dick says he will come, but will ask for her “‘flat and plain’” and not wait for him to guess. She cannot decide what to wear and he suggests she wears a bonnet rather than a hat as the bonnet is “‘more quiet and matronly’” and the hat is “‘rather too coquettish and flirty for an engaged young woman’”. She thinks for a moment and decides the hat will do best.


Analysis – Chapter One ‘Driving Out of Budmouth’, Chapter Two ‘Farther Along the Road’, Chapter Three ‘A Confession’ and Chapter Four ‘An Arrangement’

The love story between Fancy and Dick is given a boost in these chapters as Dick proposes and Fancy attempts to make him jealous after going to a party without her and dancing with another woman. For the purpose of dramatic effect, a love story necessitates having some obstacles on the way to a happy union and Fancy’s desire for drama and jealousy may be interpreted in this light.


Her behavior may also be read as a given symptom of her sex, however, if one understands women as stereotypically manipulative. Despite her profession as schoolteacher, of which little reference is made, Fancy is characteristically fashioned into a flighty young woman who would rather shape others to her will than be straightforward as Dick suggests. 


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