The Return of The Native: Book 1, Chapter 7 - Summary

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CHAPTER VII: Queen of Night


Her Charm and Beauty

      Eustacia Vye's passions and instincts were unlike those of a model woman. She was full limbed and heavy but as soft as a cloud when touched. Her light hair fell over her fore-head like night descending upon the evening in the west. Her eyes were pagan full of nocturnal mysteries. She had a lovely mouth and exquisitely lined lips. Her beauty was memorable as roses, rubies and tropical midnights; she moved like the tides of the sea; her voice recalled a musical instrument. Re-arranged of herself in a dim light, would give her a figure of one of the higher female deities.

Her Hatred for Egdon Heath

      Egdon was Eustacia's Hades (the kingdom of death) since her arrival at Egdon, Eustacia had imbibed in herself much of the darkness associated with it, although inwardly she never felt reconciled to it. Budmouth, a fashionable sea-side resort in those days, was her native place. Her father was a bandmaster of an army regiment. After the death of her parents, she lived under the care of her old grand father who had been a captain in the navy and had a cottage in Mist over Knap on Egdon Heath. Though she hated the change from Budmouth to Egdon, there was nothing she could do about it as she was forced to live there.

      However, her isolation on Egdon had brought her a certain dignity which perhaps was the gift of heaven, and that would have been absent, had she continued her narrow life in Budmouth.

Her Loneliness and Her Desire for Love

      The only tonic, that could drive away her loneliness in Egdon was her desire to be loved to madness. More than any particular lover, what she desired most was passionate love. Her desire went on deepening with her loneliness. She was more interested in the intensity of love than loyalty of love. She was a social non-conformist with a forwardness of mind. She never valued holidays or pleasure or rest. She would always do her domestic duties on Sundays, frequently sing a psalm on Saturday nights and read the Bible on a week-day.

Eustacia's Discontentment

      Eustacia failed to appreciate the subtle beauties of Egdon Heath. Egdon had an environment which would make a contented woman a poet, a suffering woman a devotee, a pious woman a psalmist and even a giddy woman thoughtful, but it made this rebellious woman sad and gloomy. She idealized Wildeve only to fill up the idle hours of her life and because there was no one better than him. Sometimes her pride made her wish to be free of him but that could happen only with the appearance of a better man. She often suffered from depressions and took long but slow walks to cheer herself up. She rarely schemed, but when she did, her plans showed a strategy that could hardly be called 'womanish'.

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