Destiny Decides What Shall Happen in The Return of the Native

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Man Driven by Forces

      Almost all the novels of Hardy portrays human beings as the mere objects in which natural forces show their might. He shows us the bad consequences of a conflict of contradictory wills, and the development of this conflict is crossed at every moment by accidents which interrupt them. They are bound with the forces of nature so that they are unable to go with their free will. Hardy is more interested in the sorrows of life. He practically excludes from his writings any sense of sublimities, the splendor, and the beauty of human life, concentrating mainly upon its depths and sorrows. His philosophy is based on the assumption that man is destined by God to suffer the overwhelming pain and suffering which exist in the world.

Chance and Coincidence

      The novel, The Return of the Native is full of chances and coincidences. It is another form of destiny which plays upon the lives of major characters. Chance plays a major role as Diggory Venn wins Mrs. Yeobright's money from Wildeve who has won it from Christian Cantle. The renewal of love between Eustacia and Wildeve occurs accidently. Their meeting at the village festival leads to a near-revival of their past relations. But the most important role played by Fate can be seen in the scene in which Mrs. Yeobright comes to her son's house for reconciliation. At the same time Wildeve is there talking with Eustacia. Had Clym been awake, or Wildeve had not come at the same time there the tragedy would not have occurred. But we cannot say like that because the story moves in accordance with the intention of the novelist. After Mrs. Yeobright's return, Clym sets out to meet his mother for a reconciliation. The irony lies in the fact that both the son and mother are set ready for a reconciliation, but fate intervened in between them in the form of an adder, which bites Mrs. Yeobright. Subsequently, Clym and Eustacia enter into a vigorous quarrel. Eustada's decision to flee from Egdon occurs as another accident. Charley sets a bonfire to amuse Eustacia. Wildeve thinks that it is a signal for him and reaches there and they discuss a plan to escape.

Destiny Cruel to Eustacia

      Eustacia Vye is a lady with romantic dreams. Her mind is always filled with the dreams of life in Paris. She is so much fascinated by the life of the fashionable people. She marries Clym under an illusion that he will fulfill her dreams and would help her to escape from her remote and isolated life in Egdon Heath. Disillusionment is the outcome after her marriage with Clym. He has the least interest in a life in Paris while she hungers for it most. To add her pain he gives up his idea to start a school and starts furze-cutting. She feels that her social status has been demolished. Disillusionment, conflict with her mother-in-law, and a violent quarrel with her husband, lead her to attempt a desperate flight with Wildeve, but on her way to meet him she gets drowned, and Wildeve in his attempt to save her, loses his life. Hardy deliberately hides from us whether it is an accident or a suicide, since she considers herself trapped between the intolerable alternatives of staying on Egdon Heath or living with a lover she thinks considerably inferior to herself. She has been longing for "life-rustic, poetry, passion" which existed in Paris, but her wish is not granted. In her desperate position she cries "How I have tried and tried to be a splendid woman, and how destiny has been against me! I do not deserve my lot!" and "O, the cruelty of putting me into this ill-conceived world! I was capable of much; but I have been injured and blasted and crushed by things beyond my control! O, how odd it is of Heaven to devise such tortures for me, who have done no harm to Heaven at all!" Destiny puts her into a world which is an utter contrast to world she desires. Fate effectively manipulates her life, and it frustrates her desire to taste the joys and pleasures of the fashionable life in Paris, driving her ultimately to commit suicide.


      The tragedy in The Return of the Native is the result of the intervention of some unknown natural force. Both Clym and Eustacia are symbols of humanity in the hands of some power against which it is vain to struggle. Hardy's greater novels deal with the picture of human predicament.

University Questions

Discuss the statement "There is a discord in the nature of existence. Man is working to one end, Destiny to another. These ends may coincide or they may not. Either way, it is Destiny who decides what shall happen" with reference to The Return of the Native.

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