Hetty Sorrel, who stays with her relatives the Poysers in Hayslope, is pretty, vain and headstrong. Because of a somewhat deprived childhood, Hetty is vulnerable to the charms of Arthur Donnithorne, the callow aristocrat who breezes into town on a fishing expedition and stays long enough to play with her affections and get her pregnant without really caring about her. Hetty uses her attractiveness to get her way. She is a manipulator rather than an achiever and, because of her youth, a victim who is used by the older Arthur Donnithorne. Hetty is ruled by passion and self-interest, not unlike Arthur. Although the death of her infant is sad, the reader gets the impression she really cares more about losing Arthur than losing her child.