Damon Wildeve: Character in The Return of The Native

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      Daman Wildeve is one of the important characters in the novel The Return of the Native. He is a callous, an irresponsible, selfish, pleasure loving and casual type of man. He gives much importance to his own satisfaction, though it hurts other people. He plays with the life of two girls, Eustacia and Thomasin, simultaneously; marries Thomasin, and then decides to dope with Eustacia. He is the root-cause of the fates of Mrs. Yeobright, Clym and Eustacia. His role resembles the role of Sergeant Troy in Far from the Madding Crowd. Basically his role in this novel is that of a villain. His villainous nature is felt from the very onset of the novel and this impression is confirmed by the subsequent developments though he himself loses his life towards the end of the novel and partly redeems himself by his self-sacrifice.

His Wavering Attitude

      Wildeve, in his love wavers between Thomasin and Eustacia most of the time, even after he has married Thomasin. Often he is casual and indifferent even on serious matters. When he fails to marry Thomasin in Anglebury as his marriage license was valid only in Budmouth, he casually says that it can take place in Budmouth next week. It proves to be a severe blow to Thomasin, but Wildeve takes the matter lightly. Mrs. Yeobright never approves Wildeve as a suitable person. It is with great difficulty, she reconciles with the thought of her niece being married to Wildeve.

      Wildeve's love for Thomasin was not much deep. After he fails to marry her at Anglebury, he promises her that he would marry her the next week. Yet as soon as he sees the bonfire near Eusracia's house, he goes to meet Eustacia. Sometimes his words seem to be incongruous. Once he admits to Eustacia that Thomasin is "a confoundedly good little woman" and he does not want to deceive her but at the same time, he says that he wants to be faithful to Eustacia, and realizes that he is "not worth the little finger of either of the two women. The only thing on which his consideration has gone is that he should be able to imply his power on these two young women.

Marriage with Thomasin

      When Wildeve finds that Thomasin is slipping away from his hands, after Mrs. Yeobright has made a diplomatic use of the Reddleman's offer to marry Thomasin and tried to excite a sense of rivalry in Wildeve, he moves immediately to Eustacia to ask her to come with him. But Eustacia changes her mind after she has seen Clym. When Clym becomes her first priority, she considers Wildeve to be an inferior person. Now he feels that he has to marry Thomasin to save his position. Even then he thinks that he can handle Eustacia later on and continue relations with her. He decides to marry Thomasin because he knows that if he does not marry her, he may lose both Thomaisn and Eustacia.

His Knowledge of Female Psychology

      Wildeve is a former engineer and at present an innkeeper. He is well-versed in the art of gaining women's love. On the character of Wildeve Hardy says: "Those delicate touches of good taste were, in fact, one of the strong points in his demeanor towards the other sex. The peculiarity of Wildeve was that, while at one time passionate, upbraiding, and resentful towards a woman, at another he would treat her with such unparalleled grace as to make previous neglect appear as no discourtesy, injury as no insult, interference as a delicate attention, and the ruin of her honor as excess of chivalry".

His Death

      Eustacia has planned to go to Paris with the help of Wildeve. At night it rains heavily. Eustacia falls into the river. Wildeve and Clym both see her and both of them jump to save her. But he gets drowned and thus dies. This self-sacrifice, to some extent, redeems his past follies and misdeeds. Finally, he is united with Eustacia in death.

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