The Return of The Native: Book 2, Chapter 8 - Summary & Analysis

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CHAPTER VIII: Firmness is Discovered in a
Gentle Heart

Summary

Clym's Letter to His Mother

      Clym had gone to spend a few days with his friend after Christmas and so was not at home when Wildeve visited their house in order to propose marriage to Thomasin. Thomasin told her aunt that Wildeve had finally decided to marry her which he wanted immediately. Clym on the other hand started hearing rumors at his friend's place regarding the scandal that was circulating about Wildeve's failure in marrying Thomasin. Disturbed by the rumors, Clym wrote a letter to his mother showing his surprise and distress at the scandal. Thomasin felt miserable at this and wanted to get married before Clym returned as she wanted to face Clym as a married lady in order to put an end to the unkindly remarks of the people. Then Mrs. Yeobright told Thomasin about the reddleman's proposal and how she had refused him after Wildeve's decision was taken. Thomasin after hearing this, sympathized with Diggory.

Thomasin's Departure

      The day of the marriage finally arrived. Thomasin dressed up to leave the house for the church. Thomasin insisted on going to the church alone and so Mrs. Yeobright unwillingly allowed her to do so. Both of them were filled with emotions when the moment of separation came. They bid goodbye to each other with tears in their eyes.

Clym's Feelings on Hearing about the Marriage

      After half an hour of Thomasin's departure, Clym returned home. Mrs. Yeobright told her son that Thomasin has gone to the church for her own marriage with Wildeve. But Clym was surprised at not having been informed of the marriage in time and also expressed his doubt and annoyance for not having been informed of the proposed marriage on the earlier occasion when he was in Paris. He was told that he was not to be disturbed in his business but he also felt that both his mother and himself should go to the church to stay beside Thomasin and attend her marriage. Then he recalled the times he used to consider Thomasin as his sweetheart. He also thought about the Christmas night when Thomasin had been more affectionate towards him than usual. He felt disturbed as nobody was there besides Thomasin in the church to keep up her spirits and left the house picking up his hat hastily to attend the wedding.

Thomasin given away In Marriage by Eustacia

      Clym returned after a few minutes accompanied by the reddleman with the news that Thomasin had already got married and that she had been given away in marriage by Eustacia. Clym inquired about Eustacia and learned that she was Captain Vye's grand-daughter living in Mistover Knap. Mrs. Yeobright added that she was a proud girl from Budmouth and people used to call her a witch.

The Reddleman's Role

      The truth was that it was the reddleman who compelled Eustacia to give away Thomasin in marriage as Thomasin's own relatives would not be there. To Wildeve's utter surprise Eustacia instead of being jealous was very glad that Thomasin was marrying Wildeve and would no longer come in the way of Clym and her.

Critical Analysis

      This chapter reaches the climax of Wildeve-Thomasin love-affair with their marriage. The scene where the aunt and the niece separate and depart touches us quite a lot. We also find Clym's feeling of self reproach at not being present in the church for Thomasin's marriage is justified. We also find Eustacia's fickle-mindedness and inconsistency in this chapter when she feels jealous of Thomasin once in Wildeve's affair and then in Clym's affair.

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