1. What is the significance of the title? How does it shape the reader's reception of the tale?
  2. What is the alleged source for this tale? How does this claim frame the questions asked by the reader?
  3. What point of view is allegedly taken by the narrator?
  4. What are implications of the name Baptista Trewthen? What are the circumstances of her background and employment?
  5. What are her motivations for her marriage to Heddegan? To what extent is the reader expected to sympathize with them?
  6. Do her parents and friends give her good advice? How does their opinion affect the reader's view of her choices?
  7. What do we learn at first about Baptista's tastes and character? Does she have a sense of independence? An interest in culture?
  8. What seem to be her redeeming traits?
  9. What is the nature of Charles Stow's and Baptista's courtship? What had been the nature of their previous relationship? Had he sought to court her previously?
  10. In general, how is Charles presented?
  11. How is the wedding described? Why is their marriage not consummated? Under what circumstances does Charles go for a swin?
  12. What are features of the narrator's tone and manner? How do they contribute to the effect of the story? Does the story offer any foreshadowing of the events to follow? (grim amusement, unexpected twists, exact descriptions of unpleasant details)
  13. What characterizes the account of Charles's death and Baptista's reaction?
  14. What is added to the story by Baptista's attendance at Charles's burial?
  15. What do the local details of setting add to the story?
  16. How is Heddegan characterized? What are his demerits and merits?
  17. What is added to the story by the fact that Heddegan joins Baptista on the boat home?
  18. By the details of their respective behavior on their wedding trip?
  19. What are we to make of the fact that so many events occur in the same places--for example, that both wedding trips end in Pen-Zephyr?
  20. What is the effect of the story's repeated use of coinciences--e. g., the placement of Charles' hat in the wedding chamber; the use of the same inn for a honeymoon trip and burial? (coincidences have thematic significance)
  21. How does the narrative and plot employ irony? Does it contain humorous touches? (adds to unity of time, place and action)
  22. Do you find Baptista's change of heart at the end believable? If so, what events have prepared us for it?
  23. In addition to the use of irony and coincidence, what are some other features of Hardy's style?
  24. According to what assumptions do Baptista and her husband consider her earlier half-day marriage and his twenty-year affair and possession of four unacknowledged children to be roughly comparable?
  25. What roles are played by Heddegan's daughters in the narrative? Is this part of the story equally developed, and if not, is this appropriate?
  26. Is Baptista shown as likely to be a good stepmother?
  27. What is unexpected about the ending? Is it an appropriate one for the plot? What final impressions are left with the reader?
  28. What are some chilling and/or surprising and/or consoling features of this story? What are some points which it tries to convey, moral or otherwise?
  29. Does "A Mere Interlude" remind you of other Victorian short stories you have read? Does it resemble other stories on marriage?
  30. Is the narrator's point of view essentially sympathetic to the characters?
  31. What attitude does the narative convey toward convention, social ritual, family ties and marriage?
  32. Do you think this is a good short story, and if so, why?