Eustacia Vye: Character in The Return of The Native

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      Throughout the novel Eustacia is filled with romantic imaginings of a rnaii who will "love her to madness" and take her away from the heath. Eustacia is described as "full-limbed and somewhat heavy; without ruddiness, as. without pallor; and soft to the touch as a cloud." She has pagan eyes, full of nocturnal mysteries. To see her hair is to fancy that a whole winter does not contain darkness enough to form its shadow. The chapter "Queen of Night" is full of imaginative descriptions. The chapter is devoted to Eustacia Vye. The method employed in describing her shows that she is intended to be taken very seriously, as a study of strong but abnormal personality, and by no means a mere vulgar butterfly, pining, for frivolity at any cost. Here is a small passage which is full of the imaginative power of Hardy at its peak

"Her presence brought memories of such things as Bourbon roses' rubies, and tropical midnight; her moods recalled lotus-eaters and the march in Athalie; her motions, the ebb and flow of the sea; her voice, the viola. In a dim light, and with a slight rearrangement of her hair, her general figure might have stood for that of either of the higher female deities. The new moon behind her head, an old helmet upon it, diadem of accidental dewdrops round her brow, would have been adjuncts sufficient to strike the note of Artemis, Athena, or Hera respectively, with as close an approximation to the antique as that which passes muster on many respected canvases."

      She does not, in the course of Hardy's narrative, touch the heights to which Hardy elevates her in his description of her character and personality in the aforesaid chapter.

A Mysterious Figure

      Eustacia longed for passionate love. "To be loved to madness" this was Eustacia's great desire. Fidelity in love for fidelity's sake had less attraction for her, than for most women. Even if the love was for a short period, she loves it. Eustacia was fully aware of the beauty, which nature has bestowed upon her. She didn't care about what people may tell about her with regard to her relations with Wildeve.

      Though she is reckless, she has self-confidence and boldness. Under the stress of passion, she often becomes reckless. It is obvious when she disguises herself as a boy in order to be able to go to Clym's house and take a look at him.

      Eustacia Vye is something of a mysterious figure to the natives of Egdon Heath. Susan Nunsuch in particular, believed that she is a witch, causing the sickness of her son. Shd pricks Eustacia with a needle at church because of her extreme hatred. Later in the story, the superstitious Susan melts a waxen image of Eustacia on the fire in order to destroy her. She does not like the life in Egdon Heath. "Egdon was her Hades, and since coming there she had imbibed much of what was dark in its tone, though inwardly and eternally unreconciled thereto. She longs to be in a pompous city like Paris. She cannot bear the loneliness Egdon Heath provides since she is not at all interested in the loneliness and natural beauty of the country side." She once says about the Heath as "Tis my cross, my shame, and will be my death." The subtle beauties of the heath were lost to Eustacia. "An environment which would have made a contented woman a poet, a suffering woman a devotee, a pious woman a palmist, even a giddy woman thoughtful, made a rebellious woman saturnine."

      Mrs. Yeobright has a bad opinion about her. When she finds that Clym is in love with her she says, "Is it best for you to injure your prospects for such a voluptuous, idle woman as that? Don't you see that by the very fact of your choosing her you prove that you do not know what is best for you?" But Eustacia was a very clever lady who would never get provoked immediately.

Her Frustration

      Eustacia was aware that Clym intends to start a school, but she trusted her womanly persuasion to divert him from the project. Clym's cheerfulness under privation, which would have been heroic if he had to consider about himself, amounts almost to callousness where Eustacia is considered. The last blow for her hopes to escape from Egdon was the semi-blindedness of Clym,

Her Death

      Her character gets further degraded when she decides to make use of the services of Wildeve in order to escape from Egdon Heath and go to Paris. If her death was a suicide, she rehabilitates her dignity by no surrendering her honor. She may think that she would be stooping too low in asking Wildeve for money, since she had no money with her when she was leaving, and thinks it better to die.

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