The Return of The Native by Thomas Hardy - Summary

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      The Return of The Native by Thomas Hardy published in 1878 is remarkable for tragic intensity. Eustacia Vye yearns to escape from desolate Egdon Heath. Her lover, Damon Wildeve is pledged to Thomasin Yeobright whom he marries when Eustacia becomes interested in Clym Yeobright, a manager to a diamond merchant in Paris who returned to his native place, Egdon Heath on Christmas holidays. Against his mother's objection, Clym marries Eustacia. She is disillusioned when Clym deter mines to stay on the heath. Mrs. Yeobright comes to effect reconciliation between Clym and Eustacia, but she is not admitted by Eustacia who is trysting with Wildeve. Mrs. Yeobright's death from snake-bite alienates Clym from Eustacia. Eustacia and Wildeve are both drowned. Thomasin is married to the faithful Reddleman, Diggory Venn, Clym becomes a preacher.

The Return of The Native by Thomas Hardy
Return of The Native

      Hardy insists that it is the violation of man's code that induces the tragedy. Eustacia's dreams are shattered by the world in which she lives. The brooding Egdon Heath is the central character, totally indifferent to the struggles of men. Chance wrecks human lives. Man is doomed to defeat in a heedless universe.

      Eustacia is an alien in Egdon Heath and hates it. Clym is a native of Egdon Heath and is loyal to it. He wants to serve the village as a school teacher. When he becomes semi-blind, he takes to furze-cutting. This disillusions Eustacia who aspires after luxurious living in Paris. Thus it is the tragedy of two incompatible temperaments. However, Eustacia asserts her self-dignity when she blames her fate and herself for the wreck of her life. She at first accepts assistance from Wildeve to fly to Budmouth and she is full of shame and remorse and drowns herself. Wildeve is also drowned in his atempt to save Eustacia. Eustacia's character is vividly drawn and she is a tragic character with her wilfulness, vivacity and defiance of the moral code of the Egdon Heath. Reddleman (Diggory Venn) is faithful in love and life. He is refused by Thomasin but remains steadfast in his love. Diggory and Thomasin are married at last as poetic justice. This is an after-thought and the end damages the artistic integrity of the novel. The novel has an epic breadth with the Egdon Heath as a background, character and symbol.

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