The Return of The Native: Book 1, Chapter 11 - Summary & Analysis

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Chapter XI: The Dishonesty, of an Honest Woman Rejection of the Reddleman's Proposal to Mrs. Yeobright


      Following his conversation with Eustacia, the reddleman next approached Mrs. Yeobright, whom he saw heading towards Wildeve's inn. He told her that to rescue Thomasin from the circumstances she was in, he was willing to marry her. He told Mrs. Yeobright about his origins, and that he was not a reddleman by birth, and that he could change his profession if required. He also informed her about his marriage proposal to Thomasin two years back and that it was rejected by her because Mrs. Yeobright would refuse to give consent. Mrs. Yeobright however, said that since the girl had once refused to marry him she could not consider the reddleman's offer anymore.

Mrs. Yeobright's Strategy

      Mrs. Yeobright shrewdly decided to use Diggor's offer of marriage for her own purpose. Arriving at Wildeve's inn, she told him that another man had asked for her permission to marry Thomasin, and that she was willing to give her consent provided Wildeve assured her that he would not meet Thomasin any further. Widleve then replied that if Thomasin was willing to marry the other man, he would not come in their way. But when Mrs. Yeobright wanted a firm commitment from him, Wildeve asked for one or two days to think it over, promising not to communicate with Thomasin without Mrs. Yeobright's consent.

Wildeve's Offer to Eustacia

      That evening Wildeve went to meet Eustacia in her house at Mistover and told her what had happened. Wildeve then asked her to accompany him to America but Eustacia said that she cannot decide before one week which he promptly gave her to consider the proposition. She did not want to consider him then just because the other woman did not want to marry him. She did not want to be treated as a stop-gap. She wanted time to think over the matter when Wildeve reminded her of her declaration of love for him and her promise to accompany him anywhere which she had made one month ago. Then they separated, planning to meet again shortly at that hour a week hence.
Eustacia's Interest in Wildeve Diminished
Evidently, Eustacia had lost interest in Wildeve now that Thomasin did not want to marry him anymore. Her desire to love Wildeve as a lover was more of jealousy than passion.

News of Clym

      That same evening Eustacia's grandfather told her that Clym Yeobright was coming home from Paris, after a long time of stay there, to spend the Christmas with his mother. Eustacia had never seen Clym before.

Critical Analysis

      Mrs. Yeobright is very much capable of employing diplomacy to gain her purpose. This chapter shows her diplomatic attitude. It also shows Wildeve's fickle-mindedness and Eustacia's casual and ignorant nature. This chapter even shows the reddleman's continuity in love and his deep feelings for Thomasin. Mrs. Yeobright is an honest woman who employs a dishonest method in order to fulfill her purpose, Wildeve appears to be a man of shifting loyalties. Eustacia now becomes conscious of her social superiority over Wildeve.

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