Return of the native

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  • Return of the native

    From Sparknotes

    ELC Notes on: The Return of the Native
    Taken from:

    The entire opening chapter of The Return of the Native is devoted to a lengthy description of Egdon Heath, the setting of the novel. The heath must be significant in terms of the themes and the continue progress of the novel. The author of the novel, Thomas Hardy, made the heath so significant to the point that it can be look upon as a character like any other in the novel. The heath’s constant correlation with the plot and its “personality” even transformed it into the major antagonist of the story. In the opening chapter the heath is introduced just as how a major character of most novels would be introduced with detail. In fact, the way Hardy devoted the entire first chapter just to describe it gives it the level of importance that is over any other characters in the book. This seems to suggest that the heath is like the “ruler” of the story, it is the King, and it is more powerful than any person is. The heath demonstrates the idea that fate is more powerful than the desires of individuals. This theme can be seems throughout the novel. The biggest effect of this theme is on Eustacia. The fact that Clym delayed sending his letter to Eustacia, coupled with the fact that Captain Vye unwittingly kept the letter from Eustacia until it was too late, suggests that perhaps destiny is against her. It is under the downpour of the rain, on the rugged heath where Eustacia laments her fate. Eustacia’s own remark, “how destiny is against me!” (354) and “I have been injured and blighted and crushed by things beyond my control!” (354) affirm the existence of such a force, the power of fate. On Egdon Heath, night and darkness comes before its “astronomical hour” (11). This presents the idea of Egdon Heath’s unchangeable place in time. This early arrival of darkness gives Egdon Heath a sense of gloom. Dominance of darkness is clearly ominous and Hardy also says of the heath that it could “retard the dawn, sadden noon…and intensify the opacity of a moonless midnight to a cause of shaking and dread” (11-12). It is also inferred that the Heath itself creates the darkness “the heath exhaling darkness as rapidly as the heavens precipitated it” (12). This description of the Heath gives it not only a human like, but in fact, a monster-like quality. We see an image of a giant creature of darkness breathing out darkness. The atmosphere or tone created here is verging on evilness. The Heath is as hostile as it is gloomy. The place is “full of a watchful intentness…for when other things sank brooding to sleep the heath appeared slowly to awake and listen” (12). The Heath is personified as some sort of nocturnal predator and in the later progress of the novel, we see that the Heath is indeed hostile, perhaps “indifferent” would be the appropriate adjective, to the characters. Mrs.Yeobright's journey across the Heath after being turned away by Eustacia comes to mind. The conditions of the Heath under which Mrs.Yeobright makes her journey is described as “a torrid attack” (260) and “the sun had branded the whole heath with its mark” (260). “Brand” suggests pain and possibly torture and we find this is not far from the truth when Mrs.Yeobright makes her ill-fated return journey. However, the Heath is at its most hostile and cruel in darkness. It is in the middle of the night that the climax of the tragedy is reached, as Eustacia commits suicide amid the ferocity of the storm. In the opening chapter there is a forewarning of this, as we learn of the Heath that “the storm was its lover and the wind its friend” (13). As mentioned before, it is appropriate to describe the Heath as 'indifferent'. There is a feeling of helplessness that runs through the novel, as the characters fall prey to chance or fate. The tone is ironic, because we are watching the actions of the characters with superior knowledge. For instance, Clym's blaming himself for his mother's death is ironical: he does not know the conditions responsible for it and he is unaware that his mother did indeed call on him. It is possible to read this helplessness and irony as a result of the Heath's indifference to the characters. It is also an intended theme: man lives his life in a universe that is at least indifferent to him and may be hostile. The opening chapter is without doubt the most significant in terms of showing this. The sub-title of the opening chapter, “A Face On Which Time Makes But Little Impression”, establishes the unchangeable nature of Egdon Heath directly. The Heath is said to be eternally waiting and “unmoved” (12) in its “ancient permanence”(12). It is suggested that the Heath's existence dates back even into times of legend—“its Titanic form” (12)--and will last until the “final overthrow” (12), or Armageddon. Egdon Heath is as indifferent to man as it is to time. It may even be hostile, as “Civilization was its enemy” (12). In its “antique brown dress” (14) may be seen a “satire on human vanity in clothes” (14). Even in its indifference the Heath is mocking towards humans. The Heath is “inviolate” (15) and “even the trifling irregularities were not caused by pickaxe, plough, or spade” (15). Man cannot change Egdon Heath for it is indifferent to man. Hardy uses Egdon Heath as a portrayal of the larger scale of things, that is, the universe's indifference to man. Egdon Heath is treated as a character in the novel. It involves in everyday lives of its inhabitant. It also has relationships with each character: some likes it, like Clym, some wants to escape from it, like Eustacia. The relationship of Egdon Heath to the characters greatly influenced out the plot of the story. It is because Hardy chose to use Egdon Heath to carry out his themes. Overall, Egdon is portrayed as a member of the novel, not just a setting. Its participation as the role of antagonist greatly carried out The Return of the Native.
    Return Of The Native By Hardy
    Thomas Hardy feels that Edgon Heath, the setting of the novel The Return of the Native is a powerful, scary, dark and dreary place. He uses various techniques to express this attitude. Some of the techniques he used to convey this thought are diction, imagery, syntax, and tone. The diction he choose was specific and concrete, presenting an actual place that was depressing. The words he used attempted to present a specific, concrete perception of things. Such as when he writes, “approaching the time of twilight and the vast tract of unenclosed ild known as Egdon Heath embrowned itself moment by moment”. This presents a specific place, time and a specific insight which leaves with the thought of a darkening, scary place. Imagery played a very important role in Harding’s portrayal of the heath as a powerful, scary, live place. The imagery develops a light and dark imagery. The heath, earth is the dark and gloomy image, while the surrounding nature is light and good. He refers to the heath’s color as, “embrowned itself moment by moment,” and says that the “hollow stretch of whitish cloud shutting over the sky.” He refers to the heath as dark on many occasions, he says the “earth with the darkest vegetation... In such contrast the heath wore the appearance of an installment of night... darkness had to a great extent arrived hereon... the heath exhaling darkness.” These references of the heath as dark, give us a gloomy, somber feel of the heath. Harding also uses metaphors to make us aware of the power and life that Edgon Heath has. As in when he says “the face of the heath by its mere complexion added half an hour to evening... the place became full of a watchful intentness now: for when other things sank brooding to a sleep the heath appeared slowly to awake and listen.” These metaphors and personifications allow us to see that the heath is more than a hunk of dirt, it has a life and energy. Syntax is also used to enhance the power of the heath. Harding uses a combination of medium length and long and involved length sentences. These lengths enhance the feeling of power that Harding wants to express, because they are lengthy and have a body. They aren’t short and quick, each sentence says what it has to say and delivers it. These sentence exemplifies the strength and ability that the heath has. The sentence length is effective because each sentence allows Harding to go into detail about a specific detail about the heath, such as the power and strength it has. Harding also used more than 6 compound sentences in the description of the heath. This is so he can elaborate on a specific characteristic of the heath, as in “The face of the heath by its mere complexion added half an hour to evening: it could in like manner retard the dawn, sadden noon, anticipate the frowning of storms scarcely generated, and intensify the opacity of a moonless night to a cause of shaking and dread....” Harding also used it to compare the heath as in, “Looking upwards, a furze- cutter would have been inclined to continue work; looking down, he would have decided to finish his faggot and go home. The tone of the description of the heath is morose, somber and gloomy. In the description, Harding only describes the heath as dark and scary. He chooses to illustrate these things and gives the story a morose feeling. His somber and gloomy tone is reflected in his attitude toward the heath. The tone makes the heath appear seem scarier and more powerful. Thomas Hardy delivers a powerful and firm attitude towards Edgon Heath. He feels that it is a dark, scary and living place. He uses and combines various literary techniques in order to achieve his goal of convey his feelings towards the heath to his readers.
    Return Of The Native

    The novel, The Return of the Native, explores the clash between the inevitable social change and a traditional way of life. Set in imaginary landscape of Wessex, the story concerns Eustacia Vye, Mrs Yeobright, Thomasin, and Damon Wildeve - and how Clym Yeobright, the returning native of the title, affects each of their destinies, an his own. The brooding menace of Egdon Heath in Dorsetshire opens Hardy's novel of tragic passion. Eustacia Vye, willful and longing for the excitement of city life, awaits her lover on the forbidding moor. She married Clym Yeobright, newly returned from Paris, thinking he would take her there, but Clym is content as the country schoolmaster. With her dreams thwarted and confused circumstances that lead her to believe she has caused the death of Clym's mother, not even her affair with reckless Damon Wildeve can keep her from sinking into the despair that leads to her death by drowning. Once again Hardy creates a masterful net of destiny from which his tragic characters cannot escape. Clym affected each of their lives in a different way. Before returning to Wessex, Thomasin was going to marry Wildeve. But Wildeve and Eustacia secretly liked each other. Mrs. Yeobright wanted Thomasin to marry Clym when he returned. But Thomasin liked Wildeve. So when Clym returned, he fell in love with Eustacia. She also loved Clym, and persuaded Wildeve to marry Thomasin. Then Eustacia and Clym got married. Mrs. Yeobright did not approve of any of these marriages. After a while, Clym's eyesight grew weaker and weaker until he was force to become a spur's cutter. This made Eustacia mad because she thought she would never see Paris now. Suddenly, the feelings Eustacia and Wildeve had for one another grew stronger, and they began seeing each other again. All the while, Tomasin was feeling lonely. Her husband was not spending any time with her. Mrs. Yeobright felt as if she was being cast off by her son. When she went to visit him, but no one would let her in. She died on her way home. Rumors went around that Eustacia would let her in because she had a man in the house with her. So Eustacia left Clym, and went to her grandfather's house. She and Wildeve later decide to run away with each. But before they could live happily ever after together, they died. So in the end, if he had not returned, things may have turned out different. Cylm and Thomasin would have gotten married, and they and Mrs. Yeobright would have moved to Paris. Eustacia and Wild eve Would have also gotten married. The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy, achieves the intensity of classical Greek tragedy in its depiction of a pitiable human struggle against relentless fate. The author's somber view of human existence is expressed both in the superb opening description of Egdon Heath and in the tragic lives of Clym Yeobright, the returned native of the heath, his cousin Thomasin, Damon Wildeve, his mother Mrs. Yeobright, and Eustacia
    Return Of The Native By Hardy

    In Thomas Hardys The Return of the Native, the characters are responsible for their own decisions and actions. Eustacia, Wildeve, and Mrs. Yeobright all make choices that lead to the destruction of themselves and others. It is their influence, not the heaths, that eventually leads them to their graves. From the beginning Mrs. Yeobright is unhappy with the way things are, and is never happy throughout the entire novel. She is unhappy that Thomasin is going to marry Wildeve. She thinks that it’s a step down in class than someone she should be marrying. The tension between her and her son is immediate when she is irritated that Clym is planning to stay on the heath. She had hoped that Clym and Thomasin would be married, but he ends up marrying Eustacia to her disapproval. Then she’s absolutely had it when Eustacia won’t let her in and she can’t see Clym. She runs off into the hot heath and eventually succumbs to heat, and adder bite, and a “broken heart”. Wildeve’s ever love for Eustacia is what leads to his death. He had always loved Eustacia. He plans to marry Thomasin, but when they go to get married he “forgets” the marriage license. He eventually marries Thomasin, but continues to have an affair with Eustacia at the same time. He could not resist his passion for her, and their secret love is what indirectly causes the death of Mrs. Yeobright. The main woman behind this tragedy is Eustacia Vye. Her altering loves eventually links to all three of their deaths. She first is having a secret relationship with Wildeve, but when Clym comes back from Pairs, her dreams of one day going to Paris are possibly in sight. So she goes after Clym. She marries him, but soon realizes that Clym is never going back to Paris, so she goes back to Wildeve. Their deaths all fall back on each other’s decisions. Because Eustacia and Wildeve were having an affair, Mrs. Yeobright is turned away at Clym’s home. Her hate of Eustacia, hot-temperedness, and self-pity all lead her to wander across the scalding heath and to her death. Because of Mrs. Yeobrights death, Clyms anger with Eustacia depresses her pass her breaking point. She knows that she is going to be stuck in Egdon Heath for the rest of her life and that because of the accidental affects of her affair with Wildeve, her husband doesn’t love anymore and he doesn’t want to see her again. This leads to her not caring if she lives or dies, and she ends up drowning in the river. Wildeve is so broken up by this he can’t live without her and dies in the river once her hears what happened to her. The heath is what killed them physically, but because they were living in their own worlds, when one world came down it brought the others down with it. Their choices, their deaths.

    PART II: Analysis, Commentary and Notes

    Clym Yeobright
    The "Native" of the novel's title, Clym is the son of Mrs. Yeobright and the cousin of Thomasin Yeobright. He goes abroad to work as a diamond merchant in Paris, but comes home when he realizes that his ambition is not towards material wealth. He is pursued by Eustacia Vye, and eventually marries her, but their marriage turns sour when her ambition to move to Paris conflicts with his plan to stay on Egdon Heath and teach school. Clym is intelligent, cultured and deeply introspective. He is patient and generous, but also deeply determined, and fierce when angered: it is this determination that leads to his eventual split with his mother, and separation from Eustacia. At the end of the novel, weakened by a degenerative eye condition and by the trauma of losing his mother and Eustacia--for whose deaths he blames himself--he becomes an itinerant preacher, sermonizing about simple moral topics.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Thomas Hardy's long literary career witnessed and encompassed the most important artistic and literary changes of the modern era. Hardy was born in 1840 near Dorcester, England; before his death in 1928 at the age of 87, the genre of the Victorian novel had flowered and faded, and the erstwhile avant-garde movement known as modernism dominated the English literary landscape. In his ornate, wordy style and his sensitivity to issues of class, Hardy seemed a characteristic Victorian novelist. But his writing increasingly revealed a sensibility and a moral code that seemed to discard the strict Victorian social and sexual mores, and that tended towards atheism and subjective morality rather than an absolutist Christianity. His philosophy was out of place in Victorian England, and presaged the coming social and cultural upheaval of modernism.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Trained as an architect, Hardy was at first unsuccessful in breaking through in the London literary world. His first poems and novels went unpublished or unappreciated. It was only after Hardy's return to his native Bockhampton that his novels began to attract attention and commercial success. Far from the Madding Crowd, published in 1874, ushered in his most productive period; it was soon followed by many other novels, including The Return of the Native--published serially in monthly installments in an English magazine--in 1878. Controversy over the moral stance of his later novels Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1896) led Hardy to abandon writing novels, and to concentrate on poems and--to a lesser extent--short stories, for which he also won deserved fame.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]It is not at all coincidental that Hardy's success as a novelist followed his return home to Dorcester. Setting is of crucial importance in Hardy's novels, and his finest novels are all set in the region of "Wessex," which, while fictional, is based upon Hardy's own native corner of England. Wessex follows the geographical contours of Dorset, England, with only a few changes made by Hardy: it is not hard to see how the culture, language and geography of Hardy's home country shape his novels. The Return of the Native takes as one of its central themes--and, arguably, as its central character--the tract of windswept upland in Hardy's Wessex known as Egdon Heath. The novel is deeply rooted in the folk customs of the residents of the Heath, and attempts to imitate their attitudes and even their patterns of speech. It is the return to the heath of the educated Clym Yeobright that supplies the novel's title and catalyzing crisis. This surely derives from the experience of Thomas Hardy himself, who only a few years before the publication of the novel made his own return to his native country.
    Clym Yeobright - The "Native" of the novel's title, Clym is the son of Mrs. Yeobright and the cousin of Thomasin Yeobright. He goes abroad to work as a diamond merchant in Paris, but comes home when he realizes that his ambition is not towards material wealth. He is pursued by Eustacia Vye, and eventually marries her, but their marriage turns sour when her ambition to move to Paris conflicts with his plan to stay on Egdon Heath and teach school. Clym is intelligent, cultured and deeply introspective. He is patient and generous, but also deeply determined, and fierce when angered: it is this determination that leads to his eventual split with his mother, and separation from Eustacia. At the end of the novel, weakened by a degenerative eye condition and by the trauma of losing his mother and Eustacia--for whose deaths he blames himself--he becomes an itinerant preacher, sermonizing about simple moral topics.
    Diggory Venn - Throughout most of the novel, Venn works as a semi-nomadic "reddleman": he travels throughout the region selling the dye that farmers use to mark their sheep. As a consequence of his exposure to the dye, his entire body and everything he owns are dyed red. Entirely red, camping out on the heath in his wagon, and emerging mysteriously from time to time, Venn functions as an image of the heath incarnated. He watches over Thomasin Yeobright's interests throughout the novel, but also preserves his own interests: he has long been in love with her, and at the end of the novel they marry. Venn is very clever and insightful, and can be a devious schemer.
    Eustacia Vye - Born in the busy port town of Budmouth and transplanted to Egdon Heath to live with her grandfather, Eustacia despises the heath, and searches for a way to escape. However, even as she hates the heath, Eustacia seems in her deep, brooding passion, to be a part of its wild nature. She has an amorous relationship with Damon Wildeve, but enters into a tragic marriage with Clym Yeobright when she realizes that he is the more interesting, and urbane, of the two men.
    Damon Wildeve - A local innkeeper, Damon is described as a "lady-killer." At the start of the novel, he puts off his marriage to Thomasin Yeobright in order to pursue a relationship with the woman he truly wants, Eustacia Vye; when he is jilted by Eustacia, however, he marries Thomasin, and has a daughter with her. He drowns at the end of the novel just before making an escape with Eustacia. He is interested throughout in possession rather than love.
    Thomasin Yeobright - Clym Yeobright's cousin and Mrs. Yeobright's niece and ward. Thomasin is an innocent and goodhearted, if somewhat vacuous, woman who seems genuinely to care for Damon Wildeve--who, however, is merely using her to make Eustacia Vye jealous. She eventually marries Wildeve--over the objections of her aunt--and has a child, which she names Eustacia. At the end of the novel, she marries Diggory Venn, who has long loved her.
    Mrs. Yeobright - Clym Yeobright's mother, and Thomasin Yeobright's aunt and guardian. A proper, class-conscious, proud woman, Mrs. Yeobright objects to the marriage of both her charges; as it turns out, she is entirely correct. She dies when, exhausted, she is bitten by an adder on the heath, believing that Clym has utterly rejected her. The daughter of a parson, Mrs. Yeobright considers herself--and is considered--of a higher class than the local laborers.
    Christian Cantle - An awkward, superstitious young man who works for Mrs. Yeobright. Christian provides comic relief throughout the novel with his dolorous over-certainty that he will never marry and his petty phobias. He fails in his mission to bring Thomasin her inheritance, thus contributing to the degeneration of the family relationships.
    Captain Vye - Eustacia's grandfather and guardian, a former captain in the British navy. A reclusive and silent man.
    Johnny Nonsuch - The son of Susan Nonsuch. The boy has the knack of being in the right place at the right time: he reports Eustacia and Damon Wildeve's tryst to Diggory Venn, and is also the one who tells Clym Yeobright of his mother's damning last words.
    Charley - A local youth who works for the Vyes, and who falls hopelessly in love with Eustacia.
    Local laborers - Local laborers whose simple dialect and observance of local customs form the cultural backdrop for the novel.
    Mrs. Yeobright
    Clym Yeobright's mother, and Thomasin Yeobright's aunt and guardian. A proper, class-conscious, proud woman, Mrs. Yeobright objects to the marriage of both her charges; as it turns out, she is entirely correct. She dies when, exhausted, she is bitten by an adder on the heath, believing that Clym has utterly rejected her. The daughter of a parson, Mrs. Yeobright considers herself--and is considered--of a higher class than the local laborers.
    Thomasin Yeobright
    Clym Yeobright's cousin and Mrs. Yeobright's niece and ward. Thomasin is an innocent and goodhearted, if somewhat vacuous, woman who seems genuinely to care for Damon Wildeve--who, however, is merely using her to make Eustacia Vye jealous. She eventually marries Wildeve--over the objections of her aunt--and has a child, which she names Eustacia. At the end of the novel, she marries Diggory Venn, who has long loved her.
    Eustacia Vye
    Born in the busy port town of Budmouth and transplanted to Egdon Heath to live with her grandfather, Eustacia despises the heath, and searches for a way to escape. However, even as she hates the heath, Eustacia seems in her deep, brooding passion, to be a part of its wild nature. She has an amorous relationship with Damon Wildeve, but enters into a tragic marriage with Clym Yeobright when she realizes that he is the more interesting, and urbane, of the two men.
    Damon Wildeve
    A local innkeeper, Damon is described as a "lady-killer." At the start of the novel, he puts off his marriage to Thomasin Yeobright in order to pursue a relationship with the woman he truly wants, Eustacia Vye; when he is jilted by Eustacia, however, he marries Thomasin, and has a daughter with her. He drowns at the end of the novel just before making an escape with Eustacia. He is interested throughout in possession rather than love.
    Damon Wildeve
    A local innkeeper, Damon is described as a "lady-killer." At the start of the novel, he puts off his marriage to Thomasin Yeobright in order to pursue a relationship with the woman he truly wants, Eustacia Vye; when he is jilted by Eustacia, however, he marries Thomasin, and has a daughter with her. He drowns at the end of the novel just before making an escape with Eustacia. He is interested throughout in possession rather than love.
    The novel opens with the action of the plot already underway. The reddleman Diggory Venn rides onto the heath with Thomasin Yeobright in the back of his wagon: her marriage to Damon Wildeve was delayed by an error in the marriage certificate, and Thomasin collapsed. We soon learn that Wildeve orchestrated the error himself. He is infatuated with Eustacia Vye, and is, at least to some extent, using Thomasin as a device to make Eustacia jealous. When Venn learns of the romance between Eustacia and Wildeve, his own love for Thomasin induces him to intervene on her behalf, which he will continue to do throughout the novel. But Venn's attempts to persuade Eustacia to allow Wildeve to marry Thomasin, like his own marriage proposal to Thomasin, are unsuccessful.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Into this confused tangle of lovers comes Clym Yeobright, Thomasin's cousin and the son of the strong-willed widow Mrs. Yeobright, who also serves as a guardian to Thomasin. Eustacia sees in the urbane Clym an escape from the hated heath. Even before she meets him, Eustacia convinces herself to fall in love with Clym, breaking off her romance with Wildeve, who then marries Thomasin. Chance and Eustacia's machinations bring Clym and her together, and they begin a courtship that will eventually end in their marriage, despite the strong objections of Mrs. Yeobright. Once Wildeve hears of Eustacia's marriage, he again begins to desire her, although he is already married to Thomasin.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]In marrying Eustacia, Clym distances himself from his mother. Yet distance soon begins to grow between the newlyweds as well. Eustacia's dreams of moving to Paris are rejected by Clym, who wants to start a school in his native country. Wildeve inherits a substantial fortune, and he and the unhappy Eustacia once again begin to spend time together: first at a country dance, where they are seen by the omnipresent observer Diggory Venn, and then later when Wildeve visits Eustacia at home while Clym is asleep. During this visit, Mrs. Yeobright knocks at the door; she has come hoping for a reconciliation with the couple. Eustacia, however, in her confusion and fear at being discovered with Wildeve, does not allow Mrs. Yeobright to enter the house: heart-broken and feeling rejected by her son, she succumbs to heat and snakebite on the walk home, and dies.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Clym blames himself for the death of his mother; he and Eustacia separate when he learns of the role that Eustacia played in Mrs. Yeobright's death, and of her continued relations with Wildeve. Eustacia plans an escape from the heath, and Wildeve agrees to help her. On a stormy night, the action comes to a climax: on her way to meet Wildeve, Eustacia drowns. Trying to save her, Wildeve drowns as well. Only through heroic efforts does Diggory Venn save Clym from the same fate. The last part of the novel sees the growth of an affectionate relationship, and an eventual marriage, between Thomasin and Diggory. Clym, much reduced by his travails and by weak eyesight brought on by overly arduous studies, becomes a wandering preacher, taken only half-seriously by the locals. Analysis
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Contemporary readers tend to take for granted the notion that literature does not convey, or even attempt to convey, absolute truth. Since the modernist movement at the beginning of the 20th century, literature has tended to pose questions rather than define answers. One of the hallmarks of modern literature can be said to be unreliability: authors and readers recognize that literature is difficult; it is not to be trusted, or to be taken at its face value. In 1878, when The Return of the Native was first published, ambiguity was hardly understood to be the cornerstone of the novelistic edifice. And yet, while The Return of the Native is formally conventional, thematically it thrives on doubt and ambiguity. With its extensive narrative description, abundant classical and scriptural references and stylized dialogue, the book adheres closely to the high Victorian style. Thematically, however, the novel is original and ingenious: not trusting perceptions, the book questions moral and ethical truths, implying the superiority of relative to absolute truth. It is an eminently unreliable novel, peopled with unreliable characters; even its narrator cannot be trusted.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Take, for instance, the example of Egdon Heath, the first "character" introduced into the book. The heath proves physically and psychologically important throughout the novel: characters are defined by their relation to the heath, and the weather patterns of the heath even reflect the inner dramas of the characters. Indeed, it almost seems as if the characters are formed by the heath itself: Diggory Venn, red from head to toe, is an actual embodiment of the muddy earth; Eustacia Vye seems to spring directly from the heath, a part of Rainbarrow itself, when she is first introduced; Wildeve's name might just as well refer to the wind-whipped heath itself. But, importantly, the heath manages to defy definition. It is, in chapter one, "a place perfectly accordant with man's nature." The narrator's descriptions of the heath vary widely throughout the novel, ranging from the sublime to the gothic. There is no possible objectivity about the heath. No reliable statement can be made about it.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]For Clym, the heath is beautiful; for Eustacia, it is hateful. The plot of the novel hinges around just this kind of difference in perception. Most of the key plot elements in the novel depend upon misconceptions--most notably, Eustacia's failure to open the door to Mrs. Yeobright, a mistake that leads to the older woman's death--and mistaken perceptions. Clym's eventual near- blindness reflects a kind of deeper internal blindness that afflicts all the main characters in the novel: they do not recognize the truth about each other. Eustacia and Clym misunderstand each other's motives and true ambitions; Venn remains a mystery; Wildeve deceives Thomasin, Eustacia and Clym. The characters remain obscure for the reader, too. When The Return of the Native was first published, contemporary critics criticized the novel for its lack of sympathetic characters. All of the novel's characters prove themselves deeply flawed, or--at the very least--of ambiguous motivation. Clym Yeobright, the novel's intelligent, urbane, generous protagonist, is also, through his impatience and single-minded jealousy, the cause of the novel's great tragedy. Diggory Venn can either be seen as a helpful, kind- hearted guardian or as an underhanded schemer. Similarly, even the antagonistic characters in the novel are not without their redeeming qualities.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Perhaps the most ambiguous aspect of the novel is its ending. The novel seems to privilege a bleak understanding of human nature. Given the tragedy of the double drowning, it seems impossible that the novel could end happily. And yet, Diggory Venn and Thomasin are contentedly married. This is not, however, the way the novel was first conceived; Hardy was forced to give the novel a happy ending in order to please the Victorian public. In an uncharacteristic footnote, Hardy remarks, "The writer may state here that the original conception of the story did not design a marriage between Thomasin and Venn… But certain circumstances of serial publication led to a change of intent. Readers can therefore choose between the endings." Thus, even the true conclusion of the novel is left in doubt, a fitting end for a novel that thrives on uncertainty and ambiguity.

    أسفل النموذج

    أعلى النموذج

    Book I, Chapters 1-5
    (Read: Book I, Chapter 1 · Book I, Chapter 2 · Book I, Chapter 3 · Book I, Chapter 4 · Book I, Chapter 5)
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]The Return of the Native opens with a chapter describing sundown on Egdon Heath, the stage upon which the drama of the novel unfolds. The heath is a "vast tract of unenclosed wild," a somber, windswept stretch of brown hills and valleys, virtually treeless, covered in briars and thorn-bushes: "the storm was its lover, and the wind was its friend." It is characterized by a "chastened sublimity"--impressive but not showy grandeur--rather than any obvious aesthetic appeal. The heath is described as "a place perfectly accordant with man's nature... like man, slighted and enduring... It had a lonely face, suggesting tragical possibilities." It is an ancient space shaped by nature, seemingly impervious to the efforts of man.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Along a road on the heath walks an old man, who soon encounters a "van"--a wagon--driven by a reddleman (we later learn that these characters are Captain Vyeand Diggory Venn, respectively). Fishing for gossip, the old man discovers from the recalcitrant reddleman that there is a young woman asleep in the back of his wagon. The two men, still nameless, part ways, and the reddleman proceeds through the darkening heath. Raising his eyes towards the highest point on the heath, Rainbarrow, the reddleman sees a woman, standing alone, profiled against the sky, "like an organic part of the entire motionless structure."
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]The woman leaves Rainbarrow, and is replaced by a gathering of local men and women, who, in observance of local custom, are involved with building a huge bonfire on top of the barrow; all the villages for miles around do the same, and the night-sky is illuminated by the many torch-like fires. The locals-- including Timothy Fairway, Grandfer Cantle and his son Christian Cantle, and Susan Nonsuch--gossip in their clipped local dialect about the latest news: the marriage of Damon Wildeve and Thomasin Yeobright, which they presume to have occurred that same day. We learn that the girl's aunt, Mrs. Yeobright did not approve of the wedding, and that Clym Yeobright, Mrs. Yeobright's son, is returning from Paris in a few months for Christmas. The locals also notice that towards the end of the evening, the only fire that remains lit is a small one nearby at Mistover Knapp, where Eustacia Vye lives. The gossipers begin to dance and sing reels in the local custom, but are interrupted by reddleman encountered earlier, who asks for directions to Mrs. Yeobright's house, Blooms-End. Just minutes after the reddleman departs, Mrs. Yeobright arrives at the bonfire.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Walking home from the bonfire, Olly Dowden has a conversation with Mrs. Yeobright in which they discuss Mrs. Yeobright's resistance to her niece's marriage, and eventual acquiescence. When they part ways, Mrs. Yeobright runs into the reddleman, whom she recognizes as Diggory Venn, the son of a local dairyman, and who reveals to her that Thomasin Yeobright is the woman asleep in the back of the wagon. It turns out that Thomasin and Damon Wildeve were not married that day: they had gone to Anglebury to be married, but there was a technical problem with the marriage license, and Thomasin, upset, had run away. Mrs. Yeobright believes that the family, and especially Thomasin, will be disgraced by this failed marriage; they go to Damon Wildeve's home, the Quiet Woman Inn, and insist that Damon go through with marrying Thomasin. He is somewhat casual about the whole affair, but eventually agrees. The serious discussion in interrupted by the entrance of the local farmers and workers, who sing wedding tunes in honor of the couple, believing them to be already married. After everyone finally leaves, Damon notices that the bonfire at Mistover Knapp is still burning, and resolves, "Yes, by Heaven, I must go to her."
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]It is fitting that the novel open with a chapter characterizing Egdon Heath. Throughout the novel, the rugged and unforgiving terrain of the heath plays a crucial role, not just in shaping the culture and attitudes of the local peasants but also in motivating the main characters and even in shaping the outcomes of crucial events. The residents of the heath might imagine themselves to have civilized their native terrain, but in truth the heath remains wild, with a character of its own that asserts its will over its human denizens. Mrs. Yeobright dies of exposure due to the ruggedness of the heath; Damon Wildeve and Eustacia Vye are drowned during one of the frequent storms that sweep the heath. More subtly, all of the characters seem defined, emotionally and even physically, by their relationships to the heath. The heath is named before any of the characters are: indeed, in the second chapter, Diggory Venn and Captain Vye remain anonymous, merely outgrowths of the heath (especially the nomadic Diggory, who, dyed entirely red, seems an incarnation of the savage heath itself). And the reader soon realizes that the unnamed woman who Diggory sees standing on Rainbarrow in the second chapter, looking like "an organic part" of the great mound, is in fact Eustacia Vye, who, despite her loathing for the heath, nonetheless embodies or symbolizes--by virtue of her powerful, tempestuous passions and her dark beauty--the untameable nighttime heath.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]But even while the heath as a physical object is described as "inviolate," untouchable and unalterable by man, as a symbol it is highly pliable: it becomes what the various characters want to make of it. It is ugly for Eustacia, beautiful for Clym Yeobright, comforting for Thomasin Yeobright, and home for Diggory Venn. And it is described differently by the narrator at different times, depending on the perspective of the character being focused on; it is not just the attitudes of the characters that change, but, in the narrator's perspective, the entire heath itself that seems changeable. It is both "an installment of night" and an object of delicate, intricate beauty. This may be seen as an instance of the unreliability of the narrator, but it may also be seen as proof of the heath's evasion of all simple descriptions: it is so much greater than civilized man that it defies his attempts at limiting and defining it.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]In this first section, too, we are introduced to the supporting cast of the novel, the working-class locals who live on the heath. When The Return of the Native was published, Thomas Hardy was criticized by many reviewers for the unnatural language he puts into the mouths of these uneducated locals. This criticism deeply upset Hardy, who placed great importance in a realistic depiction of local life, custom and language. A native returning to his own birthplace of Dorchester, the area in England on which the fictional Wessex is based, Hardy wanted to recapture the feel of the country in his novels. Thus he spends a good deal of time in these opening pages describing the locals, who seem more pagan than Christian in their attitudes: they never attend church, celebrate a pagan custom by lighting bonfires to ward off the oncoming winter, and enjoy dancing and drinking above all else. Paganism in general is a recurrent theme throughout the novel. It should not be ignored that Rainbarrow itself is a barrow--an artificial burial mound raised by the ancient pagan Celtic tribes--that has become a part of the landscape. There are frequent references made throughout not just to native British paganism but to Roman and Greek influences: the bonfire, for instance, is said to be "Promethean." Eustacia Vye, especially, is described as some kind of goddess or demigoddess, a pagan "Queen of the Night," and it is on Rainbarrow that she is first discerned, albeit anonymously. To a large extent, this novel uses the ancient, pagan world--unchecked by Christianity and civilization--as its psychological and physical setting.

    أسفل النموذج

    Book I, Chapters 6-11
    (Read: Book I, Chapter 6 · Book I, Chapter 7 · Book I, Chapter 8 · Book I, Chapter 9 · Book I, Chapter 10 · Book I, Chapter 11)
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Now that the bonfire on Rainbarrow is abandoned, the still-unnamed woman seen earlier by Diggory Venn returns to the top of Rainbarrow. The wind dominates the heath at this hour, drawing a whisper from the withered blades on the heath. But the woman is not listening to the wind: through a telescope, she watches a lighted window on the heath below. Seeing nothing of note, she returns to the small fire on Mistover Knapp, which is being tended by a local boy, Johnny Nonsuch. The woman--now named as Eustacia Vye--is evidently waiting for something: soon, after the boy departs, she is visited by Damon Wildeve, with whom it quickly becomes apparent that she has an amorous relationship. In the course of their conversation, it comes out that Damon abandoned her to marry Thomasin Yeobright, although Eustacia believes that Damon still loves her, and that this is the real reason that his scheduled marriage to Thomasin did not take place. The two squabble pettily, with Eustacia coquettishly manipulating him, and Damon refusing to admit that he loves Eustacia more deeply than Thomasin.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Hardy then spends a brief chapter describing Eustacia, the "Queen of Night." Her hair, eyes and perfect lips--"formed less to speak than to quiver, less to quiver than to kiss"--are her most prominent features. Her eyes are said to be "Pagan, full of nocturnal mysteries." She is a melodramatic and deeply passionate romantic, forever pining nostalgically for kingdoms she has not lost. She despises the heath, and blames "Destiny" for putting her there, in the care of her grandfather Captain Vye.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]On his way home from tending Eustacia's bonfire, Johnny Nonsuch stumbles upon the encampment of Diggory Venn, whom he at first takes for a blood-red ghost. The boy reveals to Diggory that he has seen Eustacia and Damon Wildeve talking together, and that they are conducting a hidden love affair. Diggory later verifies this by eavesdropping on another meeting between Damon and Eustacia, during which Damon toys with Eustacia, reminding her that she is merely one of many options available to him, but also asking her to run away with him to America. The reader is privy to Diggory's thoughts as he recalls how he once proposed marriage to Thomasin, Damon's betrothed, and how he still loves her; he dedicates himself to preserving her dignity by forcing Damon to marry her. To this end, he visits Eustacia, revealing to her that he knows of her plans to lure Damon away from Thomasin. She angrily rejects his pleas to allow Damon and Thomasin to marry, asserting that she and Damon were in love before Damon became engaged to Thomasin, and that she will follow "her inclination." She does reveal, however, that her love for Damon does not run very deep: "I should have cared nothing for him had there been a better person near."
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]When Damon later relates this exchange to Mrs. Yeobright, he also renews his offer to marry Thomasin. Shrewdly, Mrs. Yeobright rejects the offer, but then represents the situation to Damon Wildeve as if there is a mysterious competitor for Thomasin's affections, intending to force Damon into marriage through playing upon his jealousy. Damon indeed becomes jealous, and, thinking himself cast aside for another man, renews his offer of love to Eustacia. She, however, also thinking that Damon has been dropped in favor of another man, is now relatively uninterested in him, because he is merely "a superfluity," no longer an object of desire. Book I--titled "The Three Women"--ends with a preview of what is to come: Eustacia hears that Clym Yeobright is returning to the heath.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]The first section of the book served to introduce the reader to most of the main characters; this second section exposes their psyches. Diggory Venn, it seems, had other than purely altruistic motivations in caring for Thomasin in his wagon: he has long been in love with her; moreover, he is willing to engage in scheming and deviousness in order to further her cause. Diggory will prove a difficult character throughout the novel. Is he purely generous, or is he always plotting his own advancement? Is he underhanded, or does he merely use the means necessary? As for Eustacia Vye and Damon Wildeve, this section reveals them to be conducting a strange and ambiguous love affair, in which love itself seems to be far removed from the equation.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]One of the central themes of this novel is the difficult relationship between love and possession. For Damon and Eustacia, love is more motivated by a desire for ownership and conquest, the zeal of competition, or by pure boredom, than it is any deep emotional bond. This section is filled with their childish squabbling and arguments, which seem more concerned with self-interest than any real affection. Damon, it is suggested, proposed to Thomasin only in order to make Eustacia jealous; this scheme was, of course, wildly successful. Eustacia then denies him physical affection in order to assert her own power over the relationship. When it seems that Thomasin no longer desires Damon--through the scheming of Mrs. Yeobright, who made it seem as if Thomasin wanted to marry Diggory Venn--suddenly Eustacia's affection for Damon cools. It seems that her love for Damon was motivated in part by her belief that he was a man desired by many women; now, she muses, "what was the man worth whom a woman inferior to herself did not value?" (Note the language of financial transactions: "worth," "value.") The love affair between Damon and Eustacia in fact seems rather childish, as does the entire soap opera--the scheming, the plotting, the intertangled relationships--that is catalyzed by their love. It is love motivated by isolation and inexperience, by Eustacia's desire for romance and her boredom on the heath: she is represented as "filling up the spare hours of her existence by idealizing Wildeve for want of a better object." And it is suggested at the end of this first book that the "better object" is on his way: Clym Yeobright is returning from Paris, the traditional city of romance.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]It is interesting to ask ourselves throughout the novel whether Damon and (especially) Eustacia show signs of rising beyond the selfish immaturity and petty emotions that they display early on. They are portrayed early in the novel as almost without redeeming actions; and yet the narrator accords Eustacia a certain amount of nobility, reveals a grudging admiration for her passion and the depth of her emotion and ambition. Indeed, Hardy's novel is consistently sympathetic toward paganism, naked passion, and rebellion against social boundaries and mores. Moreover, the final analysis of Eustacia places her among the great: the narrator concludes, "In heaven she will probably sit between the Heloises and the Cleopatras."
    Book II
    (Read: Book II, Chapter 1 · Book II, Chapter 2 · Book II, Chapter 3 · Book II, Chapter 4 · Book II, Chapter 5 · Book II, Chapter 6 · Book II, Chapter 7 · Book II, Chapter 8)
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Local workers are building a pile of firewood outside Captain Vye's house. From indoors, Eustacia Vye hears them talking about the imminent return to the heath of Clym Yeobright, who has been working as a diamond merchant in Paris. The local laborer Humphrey mentions that Eustacia and Clym would make a good couple, an innocent remark which sparks in Eustacia's mind intricate fantasies of a romance with Clym.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]In the meantime, Clym's mother Mrs. Yeobright and niece Thomasin are preparing for Clym's return to their home, Blooms-End. Mrs. Yeobright remains obsessed with the damage that Thomasin's prolonged and painful engagement with Damon Wildeve has done to the family honor. She genuinely cares for Thomasin, however, and notices that Thomasin herself seems no longer to love Wildeve, ever since he managed to delay their first attempt at marriage; however, Thomasin neither denies nor confirms the truth of this.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]The Yeobrights go to meet Clym, and Eustacia contrives to spy on them, in an attempt to get a look at Clym, who has become the object of her fascination in her attempt to find someone better than Damon Wildeve. Eventually, she settles on a scheme in order to see him. The Yeobrights are throwing a Christmas party, at which a group of locals will put on a traditional play (this performance of a ritual play with set roles and lines is known as "mummery"). Eustacia convinces the local laborer Charley to let her play his part, that of the Turkish Knight in a play about St. George. Disguised as the knight, Eustacia goes to the Yeobrights' party; after playing her part--and being recognized by some of the actors--she gets a good look at Clym. Hardy takes advantage of the opportunity to describe Clym for the first time. He is a young man with an extremely handsome face that is being worn away by his internal conflicts: "An inner strenuousness was preying upon an outer symmetry."
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Uncomfortable with the revelry of the party and excited at being in Clym's presence, Eustacia goes outside for air, where Clym meets her and guesses that she is a woman playing a man's part. By this time Eustacia has whipped herself into a frenzy: she has "predetermined to nourish a passion" for Clym. A new problem presents itself to her, however. At Blooms-End, Clym is living with Thomasin, and Eustacia is concerned that he might fall in love with his pretty cousin. She therefore sends Damon Wildeve a message--through the omnipresent Diggory Venn--informing him that she will no longer see him. Scorned by Eustacia, Damon is left with only one option to salvage his pride (and, hopefully, to generate new jealousy in Eustacia): he once again promises to marry Thomasin. This time he goes through with his promise, and the two are finally married. It is Eustacia--who happens through no sheer coincidence to be in the church at the time of marriage--who gives the bride away, to the consternation of Damon.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]More than a quarter of the way through the book, the title character finally makes his appearance, although even in this section--titled "The Arrival" by Hardy--he hardly does anything of note. But his very presence works a charm on the impressionable and imaginative Eustacia, who conceives of an infatuation with him based not upon his personality or even upon his looks: she is determined to love him even before meeting him. This kind of love, it is implied, is more self-love--or selfish love--than anything else: it is grows out of what Eustacia wants, rather than what Clym is. Thus, Eustacia is incapable of understanding Diggory Venn's putatively unselfish desire to help Thomasin be happy even at the expense of his own happiness: she thinks, "What a strange sort of love, to be entirely free from that quality of selfishness which is frequently the chief constituent of the passion, and sometimes its only one!"
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]But we do learn a set of important things about Clym in this novel. Aside from Thomasin--who is virtually a non-character, acted upon but never showing any personality of her own--Clym is the only character in the novel who acts without any deviousness whatsoever. In contrast with the other main characters-- Diggory, Wildeve, Eustacia and Mrs. Yeobright--for whom trickery is an accepted means of obtaining a desired goal, Clym seems almost entirely incapable of any sort of disingenuousness: "people who began by beholding him ended by perusing him. His countenance was overlaid with legible meanings." Clym can literally be read like an open book. His thoughts leave actual imprints upon the flesh of his face. Moreover, as a pathologically honest person, he is almost incapable of seeing trickery or imagining deviousness in others. This is the cause of his eventual disagreement with his less honest and more insightful mother, who recognizes in Eustacia a deviousness that Clym refuses to accept.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Mrs. Yeobright is worthy of some discussion. After her death Clym conceives of her as a kind of saint: righteous, quick to forgive, deeply caring and generous. But Clym is a fool for appearances, and is himself overly generous in evaluating character: in fact, the reader sees a great deal of mixed evidence as to Mrs. Yeobright's character. She is entirely willing to alienate herself from her son and niece because she disapproves of their marriages; she is quick to judge others and bears fierce grudges; she can be manipulative and deceitful, as when she summarily rejects Diggory's suit and then uses it as a weapon against Wildeve; and she is painfully and constantly aware of class. She dies upon the heath, when--exhausted by the heat and by exertion--she is bitten to death by an adder; the involvement of this particular animal in her death does not seem altogether random. Clym's misunderstanding of his mother's character may be read as another shortcoming of the ingenuous and over-charitable Clym himself. However, Clym does seem to repudiate his mother to an extent at the end of the novel, when he permits the marriage between Thomasin and Diggory despite his awareness that his mother would not have approved of her niece's marriage to a farmer.
    Book III, Chapters 1-4
    (Read: Book III, Chapter 1 · Book III, Chapter 2 · Book III, Chapter 3 · Book III, Chapter 4)
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Book III, "The Fascination," begins with a more detailed description of Clym Yeobright than we have yet been given. Clym is a thoughtful and morose young man, who tolerates life rather than truly enjoying it. It was believed from Clym's youth that he had great potential, and he became something of a local celebrity, widely discussed among the peasants. The narrator's investigation of Clym's personality and history is interrupted by a discussion among the peasants about why Clym has remained in Egdon Heath for so long. Clym himself happens on this discussion, and reveals his plan, to the disbelief of the locals: he is dissatisfied with his work as a diamond merchant in Paris, and wants to return permanently to the heath, to start a school for the local children. He is motivated in this by his native love of the heath and its inhabitants, for whom he is willing to sacrifice his personal financial advancement.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Clym's mother, Mrs. Yeobright, is at first confused and then angry when Clym reveals to her his plan not to leave Egdon Heath again: "It is right," she says, "that I should try to lift you out of this life into something richer, and that you should not come back again, and be as if I had not tried at all." Their argument over Clym's future is interrupted by a local boy, Sam, who arrives to tell them that in church that morning Susan Nonsuch had pricked the mysterious Eustacia Vye with a knitting needle, to break the imagined spell that the "witch" had cast over her son Johnny.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Clym soon has an opportunity to speak with Eustacia directly. He goes to her house, Mistover Knapp, to help some of the locals fish a bucket out of the Vye well. Afterwards he and Eustacia meet, and her beauty entrances him. He begins a schedule of reading throughout the day--in preparation for his duties as a schoolteacher--and visiting Eustacia at night; his mother, unsurprisingly, disapproves. She believes that he is ruining his life by staying in the heath, and that he is only staying because of his infatuation with Eustacia; in the course of their argument, Clym maintains his composure, but Mrs. Yeobright becomes furious and abusive. Despite her vociferous disapproval, however, Clym continues to meet with Eustacia. One night, while watching an eclipse, they discuss their future together. Even though he feels that she loves him "as a visitant from a gay world," as a means to escape from the heath to Paris, he still proposes marriage to her; and eventually she accepts, although not without first expressing her preference for leaving Egdon Heath and moving to Paris.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]As has been noted, The Return of the Native is a peculiarly modern book. It is, indeed, almost prophetic in its characterization of the modern attitude, which is typified by Clym and shared to a certain extent by Eustacia. Hardy calls Clym's face "the typical countenance of the future." He explains that Clym's face evidences "the view of life as a thing to be put up with." Clym is afflicted with a peculiarly modern world-weariness that has replaced the "zest for existence which was so intense in early civilizations." With the growth of knowledge that accompanied the flowering of the modern era, Hardy writes, "old- fashioned reveling in the general situation grows less and less possible as we uncover the defects of natural laws." This is a complaint that has been echoed and re-echoed throughout the 20th century: modernity--characterized by the burgeoning of civilization, complication and knowledge--robbed life of originality and vitality. The Return of the Native, to a certain extent, celebrates the pagan and the primitive while mourning the emerging modern cynicism that, in Hardy's view, makes life a thing to be tolerated rather than celebrated. Hardy has a definite tenderness for the primitive lifestyles, the earthy humor, the superstitions and the incessant celebrations of the working people who live on the heath; they represent a dying breed, vanishing in the face of modernity.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Indeed, the humor with which the locals are treated contrasts sharply with Clym's stoic dourness. Just after Hardy's exposition of Clym's typically modern attitude, we are given a scene of relaxed comedy, in which Timothy Fairway is clumsily cutting the hair of the local workers. Hardy pokes fun at the rustic practice, but a certain fondness peeks from behind his gentle irony: "A bleeding about the poll on Sunday afternoons was amply accounted for by the explanation, 'I have had my hair cut, you know.'" Hardy often treats the locals ironically, and exploits them for comic effect, but he never passes vicious judgment on them, or looks down on them for their ignorance and superstition.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]The narrator's ironic voice, which he employs regularly throughout the novel, is an intriguing betrayal of personality from a narrator who generally seems emotionally removed from the events of the plot. He uses his irony to denote a humorous or ridiculous attitude in his characters, without referring to these qualities overtly. His irony is yet another instance of his refusal to speak in a consistent tone, or from a consistent perspective. At times he is all- knowing, as when he renders a lengthy disposition on Clym's psychological makeup. At other times he is reticent, revealing gradually and coyly what an omniscient narrator might have revealed instantly, as when he describes Eustacia only obliquely until she reveals herself to Damon Wildeve. Hardy layers his narrative not only via irony, but also by speaking in many voices (another method typical of modern narratives): he writes from many perspectives, allowing himself the luxury of omniscience while preserving the integrity of each character through a rendering of their own perceptions, and a use of their own voice.
    Book III, Chapters 5-8
    (Read: Book III, Chapter 5 · Book III, Chapter 6 · Book III, Chapter 7 · Book III, Chapter 8)
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Again, Clym Yeobright fights with his mother over his career plans, and his relationship with Eustacia Vye. Their fights, which have gone on for a while, escalate to the point where Mrs. Yeobright implies that Clym is no longer welcome in her house. Despondent, Clym meets with Eustacia, and during their walk on the heath they plan to marry very soon, and so live in a small, isolated cottage on the heath until Clym is prepared to move to the busy port town of Budmouth, where he will go through with his plan of starting a boarding school. Accordingly, Clym obtains a cottage, and moves out of his mother's house; she continues to refuse to reconcile herself with him, and tells him she will not come to see him after the wedding. The day of Clym's departure, Mrs. Yeobright is visited by her niece Thomasin, who tries unsuccessfully to convince her to forgive Clym. Thomasin also tells Mrs. Yeobright that Damon Wildeve, her new husband, is reluctant to give her any spending money, and Mrs. Yeobright promises to send Thomasin her share of her inheritance, 50 guineas.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]The day of Clym's wedding finds Mrs. Yeobright at her home, Blooms-End. She is visited there by Damon Wildeve, who was also absent from the wedding: Eustacia's marriage has rekindled his old passion for her, and he is jealous. Damon inquires after the "article" that Thomasin has asked him to fetch from Mrs. Yeobright, but Mrs. Yeobright, unwilling to give Thomasin's inheritance money to Damon, refuses even to tell him what the article is. Instead, she sends the inept Christian Cantle to bring the money to Thomasin; since both Thomasin and Clym are at Mistover Knapp celebrating the wedding, she gives Clym's share of the inheritance to Christian as well, to be brought to Clym.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]On the way to Mistover, however, Christian falls in with a group of locals headed to Damon's inn, the Quiet Woman, to enter a raffle for a valuable piece of cloth. Christian too enters the raffle, and proves himself uncharacteristically lucky by winning the toss of the dice for the cloth. He inadvertently tells Damon that he is carrying Thomasin's money, and Damon becomes resentful; he awaits the opportunity to claim the money for his own. This opportunity comes when, on the walk to Mistover Knapp, Damon and Christian begin gambling; Damon proves the luckier man, and takes all the money--50 guineas belonging to Thomasin, and 50 belonging to Clym--from Christian.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]The scene was witnessed by Diggory Venn, who in turn challenges Damon to a match of dice-throwing. The two men gamble until surrounded by pitch darkness; eventually, Diggory wins all the money back from the frustrated Damon. Not realizing that 50 guineas belong to Clym, he immediately gives all 100 guineas to Thomasin, who--unaware of the actual size of her inheritance--also does not recognize the mistake.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Among the many love triangles in The Return of the Native, the least obvious is the triangle established between Clym, Eustacia and Mrs. Yeobright. As the arguments between Clym and his mother continue, it becomes clear that there is an element of jealousy in Mrs. Yeobright's hatred of Eustacia. She proves herself incapable, at the beginning of Chapter Five, of adducing any rational proof of Eustacia's unsuitability; indeed, in the course of the argument, she becomes increasingly jealous and irrational, essentially asking Clym to choose between a marriage and his mother. Love, for many of the people throughout this novel, is more accurately characterized as possessiveness. And it is evident that Mrs. Yeobright, as much as Eustacia, wants to possess Clym. "You give up your whole thought--you set your whole soul--to please a woman" she complains to Clym. And she is shocked at his correctness when he inverts her complaint: "I do. And that woman is you." There is a striking similarity between their argument and a lover's quarrel: "You think only of her," Mrs. Yeobright complains, "You stick to her in all things." The idea that Clym can love only one person is a jealousy typical of love affairs, not of family relationships; but Mrs. Yeobright cannot reconcile herself to sharing Clym's love, and she eventually proclaims "I wish that you would bestow your presence where you bestow your love." The reader will recall that the first book in the novel is called "The Three Women," a parallel between Eustacia, Thomasin and Mrs. Yeobright that becomes clearer by this point in the novel, with the revelation that Clym's mother, like the two younger women, is inserting herself into a love triangle, and is consumed, as the others are, with possessiveness and jealousy.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]One of the more interesting and revealing episodes in the novel is the gambling match between Diggory Venn and Damon Wildeve. It is interesting, of course, because it serves to explain the confusion behind the delivery of the 100 guineas, which later in the novel drives an even deeper wedge between Clym and his mother. But it is also crucial because of the shadow it casts over Diggory's character: up to this point in the novel, although Diggory has often appeared as a ghost or demon--he is initially taken for a ghost by Johnny Nonsuch and mothers invoke "the reddleman" when threatening naughty children--he has acted in a more or less benevolent manner--if perhaps more self-serving than might be immediately apparent. Here, however, this fantastical appearance seems to be borne out in action: the red man shows remarkable skill in manipulating the dice, which Christian Cantle-- superstitiously but perhaps correctly--calls "the devil's playthings." Rising unexpectedly out of the heath, preternaturally lucky at dice, Diggory is unbothered by the descent of darkness and unfazed by the encroaching of the nighttime denizens of the heath. He seems, truly, a supernatural character.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]What bears consideration, in this context, is the fantastical nature of the entire novel. The Return of the Native is in most senses a naturalistic novel: the fantastical is invoked, but mainly in terms of folk superstitions. The novel strives for accuracy in portraying human lives, and limits itself to conformity with natural laws. And yet, the gambling episode signals that there is also a great deal in this novel that depends upon remarkably unusual circumstance. The following series of circumstances is the prime example: Christian, walking on the vast and trackless heath, just happens to run into a group bound for gambling; he happens to win; he happens to lose badly to Damon; Diggory Venn happens to be watching; and Diggory, in turn, wins dramatically against Damon. This string of events suits the purposes of poetic justice, and furthers the impending conflict between Mrs. Yeobright and Clym, but--taken together with the string of just-missed opportunities, lucky or unlucky coincidences and fortuitous bounces that fill the novel--seems beyond the bounds of the purely realistic. Perhaps The Return of the Native should be read as an experiment with human emotions and character that takes place in a laboratory setting designed by Hardy; in this world, events depend not so much on a naturalistic reality of causation but rather on a realism of emotional reaction.

    أعلى النموذج

    Book IV, Chapters 1-4
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Summertime finds Clym Yeobright and his new wife Eustacia installed in their cottage on the heath; they are happy for the meantime, but Eustacia has not given up her ambitions to move to Paris, while Clym remains dedicated to becoming a schoolteacher on the heath. Mrs. Yeobright has become resentful because she has not received any recognition from Clym that he has received the money she sent to him. When she learns from Christian Cantle that Damon Wildeve won the money at dice--what she does not know, of course, is that Diggory Venn won the money back, and gave it to Thomasin--she confronts Eustacia, believing that Damon, Eustacia's former lover, has given her the money privately to regain her favor. Mrs. Yeobright's suspicion is incorrect, and Eustacia is indignant. They have an angry argument, during which Eustacia proclaims that she would not have married Clym if she had believed they were really going to live in a cottage on Egdon Heath rather than move to Paris. Although the confusion over the money is soon resolved when Thomasin is consulted, the rifts between Clym and Eustacia and between Clym and Mrs. Yeobright have grown too deep to bridge easily.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]A further misfortune strikes Clym: his incessant studying by dim light has ruined his vision, and he can no longer read, at least temporarily. Deprived of his studies, he takes interim work as a furze-cutter (furze is a prickly bush prevalent on the heath). Eustacia is appalled at his new choice of work, and at his ability to find contentment in manual labor. Indeed, Clym appears truly happy: he loves the heath and appreciates its subtler beauties, and he does not believe that manual labor is any less noble than his previous occupation, selling diamonds. The couple have a confrontation over what Eustacia sees as Clym's lack of ambition, and the two realize that their love is beginning to fade away.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]In an effort to stave off her feeling of disappointment and depression, Eustacia goes to a country dance. She has difficulty incorporating herself into the atmosphere of almost pagan revelry until she comes upon Damon Wildeve, who by coincidence is also at the dance. They dance together, and Eustacia reveals how unhappy she is in her marriage. They walk back to the heath together, where they are met by Diggory Venn and Clym; although Clym's poor eyesight prevents him from recognizing Damon, Diggory deduces that Damon once again has designs on Eustacia. In order to dissuade Damon from visiting Eustacia, Diggory sets out on a policy of less-than-subtle intimidation. When Damon tries to meet Eustacia, Diggory calls Clym's attention to their trickery by creating loud noises; he sets snares to trip Damon, and even fires shots at him, in order to scare him away from Eustacia's house. These crude efforts prove effective in temporarily frightening Damon. Diggory also visits Mrs. Yeobright, and convinces her to make up to her son and daughter-in-law; at the same time, Clym resolves to reconcile himself with his mother.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Clym, as has been noted, represents to the mind of the narrator the typical modern man: he is philosophically and intellectually progressive, but he is also portrayed as stoical and largely joyless. From this vantage point, Clym's physical misfortune could be said to be his psychological and moral salvation: when he loses his eyesight, he responds with more than his characteristic stoicism--as the title of the second chapter has it, "He Is Set Upon by Adversities; but He Sings a Song." Clym is a scholar, not a singer. Until this point in the novel, sobriety in all things has been his golden rule. But it seems as if, by resigning himself to his fate, he has developed a kind of joy that was previously foreign to him: we read that "a quiet firmness, and even cheerfulness, took possession of him."
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Clym's newfound happiness is best seen through his changing attitude towards Egdon Heath. When we first hear from Clym--in the third chapter of the novel's second book--he comments on the "friendliness and geniality" of the hilly heath. After being stricken by his temporary blindness, and going to work as a furze- cutter, he seems to appreciate the beauty of the heath on a much deeper level. For the first time, the blind man sees "bees... amber-coloured butterflies... tribes of emerald-green grasshoppers... snakes in their most brilliant blue and yellow guise... litters of young rabbits." The emphasis on color in these descriptions is not unimportant. Before, the heath was uniform in its withered brown; now, when he allows himself to see truly--not clearly, for he is nearly blind, but truly--Clym recognizes a rainbow of color in the heath. This philosophy of happiness through acceptance of what is rather than soaring ambitions for what could be, is known as quietism. This philosophy flourished in the second half of the 19th century--especially in literature, where it influenced novelists from Hardy to Thoreau to Edith Wharton to Henry James--largely in response to the vaulting ambitions and psychological stresses of the emerging modern era. In many of its forms, quietism stressed the superiority of the pastoral--the quiet, idealized countryside--to the confusion of the modern city. The countryside of The Return of the Native does not quite conform to the pastoral ideal: in contrast to the peaceful countryside imagined in most pastoral settings, Egdon Heath is fierce, wild and generally unwelcoming. Rather, The Return of the Native transplants the pastoral ideal--which generally involves finding contentment and a kind of joyful simplicity--into a setting better described as sublime, somehow fearsome, but at the same time impressive and transcendentally powerful.

    أسفل النموذج

    Book IV, Chapters 5-8
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Mrs. Yeobright, honoring her agreement with Diggory Venn, sets off across the heath to visit her son Clym and her daughter-in-law Eustacia, in an attempt to reconcile with them. It is the hottest day of summer, and the older woman becomes exhausted. On her way, she sees an anonymous furze-cutter walking in front of her: she soon realizes that this man is her son, and she bewails how low he has sunk. Sitting in the shade of some trees near Clym's house, she sees first Clym, and a little while later another man, enter the house.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]The other man, as it turns out, is Damon Wildeve, who--frightened out of his nighttime visits by the machinations of Diggory Venn--has resolved to visit Eustacia in broad daylight. Eustacia lets him into the house, where Clym is fast asleep on the hearthrug. The two former lovers discuss their predicaments. Eustacia is unhappy in her marriage, living in a tiny cottage on the heath with an invalid, furze-cutter husband; Wildeve imagines himself still in love with Eustacia, who does not entirely rebuff his advances. While they are speaking, Mrs. Yeobright knocks on the door. Looking out the window, Eustacia recognizes her, and decides that she cannot open the door for her, because of their enmity and because she is afraid that Mrs. Yeobright will be suspicious of Damon's presence within the house. Withdrawing into a back room, Eustacia waits for Clym to wake up and open the door; indeed, she hears him moving, and hears him say the word "Mother." She is shocked when, after letting Damon out the back and waiting a little while, she comes into the front room to find Clym still asleep--he was merely talking in his sleep--and Mrs. Yeobright long gone.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Mrs. Yeobright is heart-broken. She knows that Eustacia saw her out the window, and had seen Clym enter the house; unaware of the confusion within the house, she imagines that the couple consciously decided to turn her away. She walks home across the heath, and finding Johnny Nonsuch instructs him to tell his mother that he has "seen a broken-hearted woman cast off by her son." Soon afterwards she collapses, too exhausted to continue. Back at his house, Clym, awaking from his nap, resolves to go visit his mother; he is unaware that she visited and was not admitted to the house. Eustacia does not tell him about his mother's abortive visit, but tries unsuccessfully to convince him not to go. Walking across the heath, Clym comes across the prostrate form of an unconscious woman: his mother. Clym picks up his mother and carries her to a cottage, before running to get help. Not only is she exhausted and stricken by heat, she has been bitten by an adder; the locals, assembled to help, try the folk-cure of rubbing her wound with the fat of fried adders.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Eustacia, in the meanwhile, leaves her cottage, intending to walk towards Blooms-End and meet Clym on his return. She runs into her father, Captain Vye, who tells her that Damon Wildeve has just inherited a substantial fortune--11,000 pounds. Soon afterwards she runs into Wildeve himself. Her attraction to him is all the more powerful because he now has the means of effecting her great dream: a move to Paris. As they walk together towards Blooms-End, they come upon the cottage in which the locals are gathered to minister to Mrs. Yeobright. They listen as, despite the efforts of the local surgeon, Mrs. Yeobright dies; just afterwards, Johnny Nonsuch arrives at the cottage and tells them Mrs. Yeobright's last words, that she is "a broken- hearted woman cast-off by her son."
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]One of the most troubling aspects of this novel's tragic element is that it is caused not by evil or bad intentions, but by misperception, misunderstanding and unfortunate coincidence. As the novel progresses, Clym will blame first himself and then Eustacia for his mother's death. But in fact, as the reader well knows, the tragedy is not really anyone's fault. The worst of which Eustacia can be accused is confusion and misunderstanding: she honestly believed that Clym would open the door for his mother. And she could not have known that the consequence of not opening the door immediately would have been Mrs. Yeobright's death. Indeed, throughout the novel the narrator goes out of his way to observe that the characters--even Eustacia or Damon Wildeve--rarely act with any planned malice or immoral intentions. Of all the characters, it is most often Diggory Venn and Mrs. Yeobright who actually plot; the others merely follow circumstance and passion. The meeting between Eustacia and Damon at the dance is pure coincidence; the bonfire which draws Damon to Eustacia late in the novel, when they plan their escape, was set by Charley, who did not understand the significance of his actions; Damon himself never tells Eustacia of his newfound fortune.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Although The Return of the Native abounds in romantic and fantastic elements, it is in some senses a quite naturalistic novel as well. The school of naturalism was one of the dominant novelistic schools in the last quarter of the 19th century. Naturalist novels sought to portray reality without filters, plainly and pitilessly, without literary euphemism. They often depict a world in which characters are placed at the mercy of the unseen and infinitely powerful forces that govern society. The Return of the Native partakes of the naturalist perspective. With its unflinching look at a tragedy that--arguably, at least--seems to have no villains, the novel places its characters at the mercy of larger forces.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]When we first encounter Eustacia, in the chapter entitled "Queen of Night," we are informed: "She could show a most reproachful look at times, but it was directed less against human beings than against certain creatures of her mind, the chief of these being Destiny." In this section of the novel, when Eustacia and Damon meet, he tells her, "The fates have not been kind to you," and she responds, "I have nothing to thank them for." This is a somewhat melodramatic passage, but it is not clear from the rest of the novel that Damon and Eustacia are entirely wrong. In some sense, it is fate and destiny that has damaged Eustacia, whose misfortune was a product of her own foolishness, but also of larger forces of unavoidable coincidence. This is a novel that pays close attention, as we have noted, to the force of modernity in governing the lives of individuals; here we see its concern with the similarly potent forces of destiny and misfortune.
    Book V
    (Read: Book V, Chapter 1 · Book V, Chapter 2 · Book V, Chapter 3 · Book V, Chapter 4 · Book V, Chapter 5 · Book V, Chapter 6 · Book V, Chapter 7 · Book V, Chapter 8 · Book V, Chapter 9)
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Devastated by his mother's death, and imagining himself responsible, Clym falls into a long period of illness and depression. Eustacia, who has kept secret her role in Mrs. Yeobright's death, feels unhappier than ever, and increasingly takes solace in Damon Wildeve's company. When Clym recovers from his histrionics, he slowly reconstructs the events leading to his mother's death. From Christian Cantle and Diggory Venn he learns that his mother had planned to visit him. From Johnny Nonsuch, the boy to whom Mrs. Yeobright delivered her last words, Clym finally learns the truth. Johnny saw a man--who Clym rightly suspects was Damon Wildeve--enter the house; he saw Mrs. Yeobright knock and Eustacia look out the window but not open the door; and he saw Mrs. Yeobright walk away, dejected. The normally patient Clym becomes furious. He blames Eustacia for his mother's death; she explains the nature of the confusion, but will not tell which man visited her on that day. After their fight, she leaves the house, moving back to Mistover Knapp with her grandfather. There, she is cared for by Charley, the servant who has come to love her; when she contemplates suicide, he locks away the pistols in the house.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]In his attempt to entertain Eustacia, Charley makes a bonfire on the anniversary of the fateful day on which the narrative started, November 5th. Seeing the fire--which Charley, of course, had not intended as a beacon--Damon responds to the old lover's signal by visiting Eustacia. Once again she bemoans her fate, and he professes his love. They plan for him to help her escape to Paris, although it is not resolved whether or not he will join her. Meanwhile, Clym has gone to visit Thomasin. They discuss Clym's predicament--he is still in love with his estranged wife--and Clym writes Eustacia a letter asking for a reconciliation. When Damon returns, Thomasin, vaguely suspecting that something is afoot between Eustacia and him, asks him where he goes on the heath at night, and he becomes angry.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]The next day, November 6th, Eustacia sends Damon the appointed signal: they are to leave that night. The letter from Clym arrives at about 10 PM, but it is not given to Eustacia. At midnight, Captain Vye notices that Eustacia is not in the house. She has slipped out the door with her things, and she is headed towards the Quiet Woman Inn, to meet with Damon. Eustacia's inner torment is no less violent than the stormy weather: she realizes that she has no money, and that she will need to take Damon with her to Paris, to provide for her. But she also bemoans the fact that Damon is not ambitious or grand enough for her. In a cottage nearby, the superstitious Susan Nonsuch is busy working a countercharm against Eustacia's supposed witchcraft. Nonsuch fashions a wax doll likeness of Eustacia, and, filling it full of pins, melts it in the fire. The sense of foreboding is indisputable.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Sitting alone at home and waiting for a response to the letter he sent to Eustacia, Clym is visited by Thomasin, who tells him that Damon Wildeve is to run away with Eustacia. Captain Vye, too, visits, and tells Clym that Eustacia has vanished. Frightened and concerned, Clym goes out on the heath, despite the storm, to find Eustacia. Thomasin, after a delay, follows him, bringing her infant daughter. She loses her way on the darkened heath, and is lucky to stumble upon Diggory Venn, who joins her in her search. Together, they head towards the Quiet Woman inn. The action soon comes to a climax. Clym encounters Damon Wildeve, who is prepared to meet Eustacia and flee the heath. They hear the sound of somebody falling into the nearby weir, (an artificial pool formed by a dam). They dive into the whirlpooling weir, in an attempt to save Eustacia. Diggory Venn soon arrives on the scene and, sending Thomasin for help, attempts a rescue of his own: he pulls Damon and Clym out of the water, and later, with the help of the locals, finds Eustacia's body. It is discovered that Damon and Eustacia are dead, but that Clym will recover: as is characteristic, he blames himself for all the deaths.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]This is a slow-moving novel: it is not unusual for Hardy to spend an entire chapter discoursing on the personalities of his main characters. But this "book," "The Discovery," is characterized by quick movement and dramatic--even melodramatic--situations. In a novel in which events take months to unfold, the greater part of the crucial action takes place within the space of a few days, and is packed into a few small chapters. Indeed, Hardy's narrative art seems better suited to lengthy exposition than to action and drama: these are also, arguably, the weakest chapters in the novel. In contrast to the lyrical stillness of Hardy's descriptions of the heath, here we encounter a prose-style veering toward the overwrought. Note the dialogue in this section, which, while often overly ornate throughout the novel, here seems to evade Hardy's control entirely. Listen to the raving Clym, emoting with all the histrionics of a soap-opera hopeful: "If there is any justice in God let Him kill me now. He had nearly blinded me, but that is not enough. If He would only strike me with more pain I would believe in him forever!" At the same time, it should be borne in mind that Hardy has a purpose to his melodramatic writing style. The characters--especially Clym, who throughout has been a model of stoicism and deliberation--lose their senses of proportion and perspective in this section: note Clym's anger, Thomasin's bizarre decision to bring her infant child on her walk through the storm, Eustacia and Damon's desperate plot. Thus perhaps it is only fitting that the prose, in its intemperate passion, imitate the wildness of the characters.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]This section is also atypical of the rest of the novel in its failure to reveal a crucial detail: did Eustacia jump into the weir, or was her death an accident? This lack of information is all the more remarkable in a novel otherwise so careful in revealing psychological truth. We know that Eustacia had contemplated suicide earlier, leading Charley to hide Captain Vye's pistols in order to ensure her safety. And we know that Eustacia, in her despair while walking across the heath to meet Damon, was conceivably suicidal. "There is something grievous the matter," the narrator informs us; and her "Can I go, can I go?" may be taken as a reference either to her voyage to Paris or to her suicide. This reluctance to reveal the truth of what occurred may be taken as another instance of the narrator's unreliability, his refusal to play the role of authority, even within his own narrative. It may also be a clever narrative move designed to more fully realize the characters in the mind of the reader. The reader does not know whether or not Eustacia committed suicide; thus, the reader is forced to extrapolate based on his or her prior knowledge of Eustacia. The character assumes a reality of her own; her actions are based on her own personality rather than the decrees of a narrator.
    Book VI
    (Read: Book VI, Chapter 1 · Book VI, Chapter 2 · Book VI, Chapter 3 · Book VI, Chapter 4)
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Thomasin is deeply shaken by the sudden death of her husband, Damon Wildeve, whatever his faults. She moves to Blooms-End, to live with Clym. Predictably, given his mournful demeanor and deep sensitivity, Clym is shattered by the death of his wife Eustacia. He withdraws deeply into himself, living in solitude in his half of the house. With the passage of time, Thomasin begins to recover from her sadness, and to take joy in her infant daughter. One summer, nearly two years after the tragic deaths of Damon and Eustacia, Diggory Venn makes his reappearance at the house. He no longer works as a reddleman, having bought the dairy that belonged to his father; consequently, he is no longer entirely red. He secures Thomasin's permission for the local people to set up a maypole near Blooms-End, although she does not join in the revelry. That evening, after the maypole dance is over, Thomasin finds Venn waiting for moonrise by the maypole, so that the light might enable him to find a glove that some girl has dropped. Thomasin, whose interest in Diggory is rising, wonders which local girl Diggory could be so concerned about as to wait hours to find her lost glove. She eventually discovers, however, that the glove was her own, dropped by her servant Rachel. When she sees Diggory one day while strolling with her daughter, she asks for the glove back, and they begin talking rather flirtatiously.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Clym, meanwhile, has become concerned that Thomasin's girlhood affection for him has rekindled. In obedience to his dead mother's wish, he resolves to ask Thomasin to marry him, even though his own capacity for love has been largely extinguished. Thomasin pre-empts him, however, by asking whether she should marry Diggory. Clym is surprised, and he is inclined to tell her not to marry, out of respect for Mrs. Yeobright's long-held belief that Diggory was not gentlemanly enough for Thomasin. Eventually, however, Thomasin convinces Clym that the marriage is less objectionable now that Diggory is no longer a reddleman, and the two become engaged.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]The final chapter of the novel shows the local workers--Fairway, Christian Cantle, Sam and the others--stuffing a feather mattress as a gift for the newlyweds, who have a joyous wedding and celebration which Clym does not feel like attending. Instead he goes for a walk, and finds himself at Mistover Knapp, Eustacia's old home, where he meets Charley, the servant who developed a love for Eustacia. They return to Blooms-End together, and Clym gives Charley a lock of Eustacia's hair. Looking into the window of Thomasin's half of the house, Charley describes the party to Clym: the celebrants appear to be enjoying themselves, without a thought to Clym's absence.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Diggory and Thomasin depart for Diggory's home, and Clym is left alone in the house, where his mother's memory remains a tragic presence. He becomes an itinerant preacher, giving lectures to local peasants about moral subjects; his listeners have mixed feelings about his preaching, but as a tragic figure he is received with sympathy wherever he goes.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Given the tragedy that pervades the great majority of The Return of the Native, the novel's happy ending seems a bit jarring. And, indeed, the original plan for the novel did not call for the marriage with which Thomasin, the novel's most virtuous and perhaps least interesting character, is rewarded. In a footnote to the text, Hardy comments on the change; it is worth reprinting the entirety of the footnote:

    The writer may state here than the original conception of the story did not design a marriage between Thomasin and Venn. He was to have retained his isolated and weird character to the last, and to have disappeared mysteriously from the heath, nobody knowing whither--Thomasin remaining a widow. But certain circumstances of serial publication led to a change of intent. Readers can therefore choose between the ending, and those with an austere artistic code can assume the more consistent conclusion to be the true one.
    As was common with British novels of the time, The Return of the Native was originally published in serial form, with part of the novel appearing in a magazine each month. To please the popular readership of the magazine, Hardy was advised to give the story a happy ending. It is commonly assumed among critics--and easily inferred from the text--that the happy ending was not the ending he would have given his novel.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]It is noteworthy, however, that whatever Hardy's personal preferences, he makes no sort of authoritative moral judgment in his footnote. He merely advises the reader to choose his or her own ending, based on aesthetic criteria, implying that a more "austere" aesthetic would yield a more "consistent conclusion"--presumably, the conclusion that does not involve a marriage between Thomasin and Venn. But the brilliance of this novel is in its ambiguity and its multiplicity of meanings. Would Venn's mysterious disappearance and Thomasin's eternal widowhood really have constituted a more "consistent conclusion"? After all, it can be argued that all the characters in this novel are served with their proper rewards. If Eustacia and Damon Wildeve are seen as vicious conspirators, if Mrs. Yeobright is understood to be an inflexible and bitter old woman, if Clym is a shortsighted and somewhat foolish ingénue, then they all receive their just deserts--and Thomasin, who was never anything but kind and faithful, deserves her reward as well. When reading The Return of the Native, it is important not to be tricked into accepting a single interpretation of the characters, or presuming the existence of a single moral message.
    [IMG]file:///C:/Users/MABURI~1.OSE/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]Even if the novel had ended without Thomasin and Venn's marriage, it is to be presumed that Clym's fate would not have changed. He becomes an itinerant preacher, spreading not Christian religious ideas but humanistic moral notions. He is a figure not entirely to be admired or heeded by his listeners. In the picture we have of him as the novel ends, he is preaching atop Rainbarrow, and his listeners are hardly paying rapt attention: "they listened... while they abstractedly pulled heather, stripped ferns, or tossed pebbles." The novel ends with the information that "Some believed him, and some believed not." It is only his tragic history that assures Clym a kind reception wherever he goes. He was a man of vast potential, referred to at times throughout the novel in almost Christ-like terms, willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the multitude. His speeches from Rainbarrow are referred to--somewhat ironically--as "Sermons on the Mount." His mission to the people has not been entirely successful; he has been weakened and lessened by his tragedy. The "Native" of the title must be seen as a tragic hero if he is a hero at all.
    Study Questions
    1. Try to characterize the nature of the love relationships that fill this novel. Are there any true love affairs in the novel? Does the novel even believe in the possibility of these affairs' success?
    2. Based on the evidence provided in The Return of the Native, do you think Thomas Hardy has a negative or positive view of human nature? Of the future of civilization?
    3. In what ways does Egdon Heath function as an important force--perhaps even another character--within The Return of the Native? Is it a sinister force?
    4. Who are the heroes in this novel? Who are the villains? Are there any truly sympathetic characters in the novel? Why or why not?
    5. What role do superstition, pagan culture and fantasy play in this novel? In what ways is the novel at times more naturalistic?
    6. What is the relationship of the narrator to his characters? (What type of narrator is he? Is he an omniscient narrator? Does he make moral or aesthetic judgments?)
    7. In some sense, The Return of the Native can be read a commentary on the conflict between modern ideas and attitudes--represented by the returning native, Clym Yeobright--and the more primitive and pagan attitudes of the heath-dwellers. What do you think is the novel's attitude towards modernity?
    8. Is Clym Yeobright portrayed as an admirable character? Does he get what he deserves?
    9. What is Hardy's attitude towards the residents of the heath? Does he condescend to them? Does he valorize them?
    10. At the end of The Return of the Native, Hardy writes in a footnote that the marriage of Thomasin and Diggory Venn was not the originally planned ending to the novel. He asks the reader to choose the more "consistent" end for him- or herself. Which do you think is the more consistent, credible and/or pleasing end to the novel?
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