The Return of The Native: Book 4, Chapter 3 - Summary & Analysis

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CHAPTER III: She Goes Out to Battle Against Depression

Summary

Eustacia Accidentally Meets Wildeve

      A few days later at the end of August Eustacia, one day told Clym that she wants to attend a village festival being held at East Egdon that afternoon. Although Clym did not like her proposal to go alone yet, he never stopped her. Eustacia walked up to the festival and found a crowd of young men and women dancing, spinning and fluctuating in the increasing moonlight. Suddenly, she heard somebody calling her by her name from behind. Turning back she was surprised to see Wildeve standing behind her. Wildeve at once offered his hand to dance with her and after a faint initial objection, Eustacia agreed. After having danced for a while, Wildeve took her to a grassy mound a few yards away, and expressed his grief at her husband's illness. Eustacia asked Wildeve whether he approved her status as a furze cutter's wife and he said that he expected her to be taken to Paris.

The Reddleman sees Wildeve in Eustacia's Company

      Then Wildeve offered Eustacia to escort her to her home at that late hour of the night. When they had walked more than half the distance they saw two human figures approaching towards them. When they came closer, Eustacia could recognize one of them to be Clym, her husband and Wildeve could recognize the other to be his greatest rival Diggory Venn. Wildeve at once thought it to be dangerous if spotted with Eustacia at his hour of the night by Diggory and so he suddenly disappears from their view. But to his misinterpretation, Diggory had already seen him withdrawing from Eustacia's side which Clym's weak eyes could not see.

A Suspicion Grows in Thomasin's Mind

      Eustacia then went home with Clym and Diggory directly went to Wildeve's inn where he inquired about Wildeve from Thomasin. Thomasin declared truthfully that he had not yet returned and that he was often late in the evenings. Diggory told Thomasin that he had seen Wildeve some distance away and created a suspicion in her mind. Then Thomasin asked for some advice from the reddleman of how she could hold her husband back home every evening at her own will. When Wildeve returned Thomasin asked him where he had gone and he could make out at once that the reddleman had surely told her something.

Critical Analysis

      In this chapter, the accidental meeting of Wildeve and Eustacia leads to a great complication. The reddleman's intervention again into the affair has its own share in the complication. Eustacia goes to East Egdon as she wants a change in her monotonous existence. The following passage makes it more clear. She ascended to her bed-room and dressed herself with scrupulous care. To an onlooker, her beauty would have made her feel almost seem reasonable. The gloomy comer into which accident as much as indiscretion had brought this woman led even a moderate partisan to feel that she had cogent reasons for asking the Supreme Power by what right a being of such exquisite finish had been placed in circumstances calculated to make of her charms a curse rather than a blessing.

      Hardy wishes to tell us in these lines that Eustacia is a complete misfit in her present environment and is entitled a fairy kind of life.

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