A woman opposes the marriages of her niece and son because she's a curate's daughter and the proposed spouses are ever so slightly less respectable than she believes herself to be; she is then surprised when the niece and the son are a little miffed at her. A man fluctuates between two women because he's bored. A woman sets her cap at a man she hasn't met because she hopes he'll take her to Paris and the man ( who has left Paris because he hates it) marries her and- persisting in his half baked plan to open a school for the underprivileged- opines that she'll make "a good school matron".
Hardy's people are so silly.
And the universe- which for the purposes of this novel is known as Egdon Heath- punishes silliness as cruelly as the Victorians wanted to believe it punished wickedness.