Clym Yeobright: Character in The Return of The Native

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      Clym Yeobright is the 'native' in The Return of the Native. His return to Edgon Heath alters the destinies of several persons including himself. He is an idealistic individual who is incapable of compromise.

His Boyhood

      Clym, at an early age, had been sent to Budmouth and from where he had gone to Paris. In Paris he had been placed in trade and he had risen to the position of a manager of a diamond-merchant's establishment. He is a boy of whom something is always expected. The only absolute certainty about him was that he would not stand still in the circumstances amid which he has born.

His Project on Education

      His experience with the people in Paris made a strong aversion in him against the worldly pursuits and strong materialistic tendencies of people. He feels that he has to use his services for the people in Egdon Heath. After qualifying himself by private study for the purpose, he returns to Egdon Heath, to start a school. He finds his work in Paris "the idlest, vainest, most effeminate business that ever a man could be put to". So he wants to change his occupation to something rational. In order to be of some service to the people, he wants to start a school. Clym’s decision to stay back at Egdon is firm and even his mother's strong disapproval is unable to change his decision. For his mother, the job in Paris was a most coveted one and her son had a respectable job there. He does not want to take his new profession for money-making, but, for service to his fellow countrymen. His plan is one for instilling high knowledge into empty minds without first cramming them with what has to be uncramped again before true study begins. Even Eustacia's pleadings did not make any change in his decisions. It is only when he becomes semi-blind that he is compelled to shelve his educational project His mother was a thoroughly practical-minded woman who knows that if Clym remains in Paris, he will have an excellent future. But his schemes have to be noticed in a completely humanitarian zeal and one cannot deny his love and sympathy for his natives. He was against the maddening materialistic approach of the people in cities. Clym's complete unworldliness, far from being something absurd or ridiculous, should endear him to us, and it is a misfortune that a blow from destiny in the shape of semi-blindness disables him from executing the educational project. Wildeve correctly assessed Clym that "He's an enthusiast about ideas, and careless about outward tilings. He often reminds me of the Apostle Paul." To Eustacia's reply "I am glad to hear that he's so grand in character as that", Wildeve rightly adds the following remark. "Yes; but the worst of it is that though Paul was excellent as a man in the Bible he would hardly have done in real life.

His Marriage and its Failure

      In his love towards Eustacia too he has to face strong opposition from his mother. Clym is very much attracted by the charm and beauty of Eustacia. His love is fully reciprocated. His mother has to show him a post love-affair of Eustacia with Wildeve. But he becomes more obstinate as Eustacia has already informed him of her love affair with Wildeve. Considering his mother's attitude towards Eustacia, he takes a cottage at Alderworth, several miles away from Blooms-End, as it is impossible for him to stay on with his mother. He is sure about his love as he tells Eustacia "One thing is certain. I do love you - past all compass and description. I love you to oppressiveness, I, who have never before felt more than a pleasant passing fancy for any woman I have ever seen. Let me look right into your moonlit face and dwell on every line and curve in it" It is obvious that it is the surface glitter of Eustacia's personality and her outward charms that have exercised the spell, because not for one single moment does he pay any heed to his mother's opinion of that girl. Clym shows a romantic streak in himself by coming under the spell of Eustacia, though he was a man of sober and thoughtful nature.

      Clym’s marriage is a failure as both of them live in a different world. Clym is thoughtful, reflective, contented and an intellectual type of man. Eustacia is wavering, fickle-minded, superficial and passionate. Clym, after his life in Paris is now satisfied with his rural environment and the simple way of life. On the other hand, Eustacia longs for the fashion and pleasures of Parisian life. The utter incompatibility of temperaments had foredoomed their marriage. Along with these opposite temperaments, there are some external forces too. His present relation with his mother produces in Clym a subconscious resistance towards Eustacia over whom chiefly the breach had occurred. His mother's visit to his house, her death, Wildeve's presence in the situation, his subsequent investigations shows the role of destiny. But apart from fate the characters themselves showed their own path to an inevitable tragedy. In the end he loses both his mother and his wife, though he tries utmost to save both of them.

His Affection for Thomasin

      Mrs. Yeobright wants his son to be married to Thomasin. But Clym opts Eustacia as his wife. He feels very upset by the thought that Thomasin is at the church getting married to Wildeve, while both he and his mother were at home. But when she loses her husband, Clym treats her kindly and even proposes to marry her for her sake.

Conclusion

      After Thomasin's decision to marry Venn, Clym decides to be a preacher. He loves his new role as a lecturer on moral subjects and he shows a broad outlook and a liberal attitude. It is to be noted that he loves the Heath and is in accord with it. He wishes to help the Heath folk, but one wonders if his aim will ever be achieved, as he does not comprehend their basically shrewd natures. A high price is paid by the other characters for the measure of happiness which Clym achieves at the end of the novel.

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