Tragic Eustacia Vye in The Return of The Native

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      Eustacia, to a large extent is responsible for the tragedy in The Return of the Native. The root cause occurs from Eustacia's peculiar nature and temperament, manifesting themselves in her actions, deeds and utterances. She is responsible, but not fully. Almost all the major characters are knowingly or unknowingly responsible for the tragedy. The tragedy begins with the death of Mrs. Yeobright and the circumstances in which it occurs. Her death is followed by a quarrel between Eustacia and Clym which later results in the deaths of both Eustacia and Wildeve.

Her Hatred for the Rustic Life

      Eustacia dreamed of a life in Paris. She hopes that if she marries Clym, he may take her to Paris. She has fascination for the pompous city life. Clym on the other hand is weary of the materialistic life a city offers. He wants to settle in Egdon and intends to start a school. Eustacia once says to Clym that "Sometimes I think there is not that in Eustacia Vye which will make a good home-spun wife." On another occasion, she says, "To be your wife and live in Paris would be heaven to me; but I would rather live with you in a hermitage here than not be yours at all." However, her hatred towards Egdon Heath, the environment in which she lives and Clym's firmness to stay in the Heath, makes her feel dissatisfied with life. She is blindly attracted by the colorful, hollow life in Paris and is unable to catch the subtle beauties of the Heath and looks upon it as a monster.

Mrs. Yeobright's Refusal to Accept Her

      The cause of the quarrel between the two arises out of the hatred between the two. Both are responsible for the tragedy, because neither of them show the tolerance of spirit which could have led to some sort of understanding between them.

      While Eustacia's heart throbs for the luxurious life in Paris, Clym gives up his educational project to forge-cutting. This causes much distress to Eustacia, and she sheds bitter tears over the changes occurring in her life, which are against her expectations, she begins to feel that her social status has been very much lowered. From her sense of dissatisfaction, the tragedy begins to shape.

Death of Mrs. Yeobright

      Eustacia begins to feel that Clym is not taking care of her ambitions. Gradually, she is attracted to Wildeve though for that Hardy uses a set of coincidences. She is happy when Wildeve visits her at her house. At the same time Mrs. Yeobright comes there and knocks the door. Here coincidence plays a major role. Eustacia thinks that Clym, who is sleeping, will open the door.

      But it is her responsibility to open the door. Mrs. Yeobright thinks that Eustacia is deliberately avoiding her. She returns and on her way she dies.

      Eustacia rightly experiences a sense of guilt though, "instead of blaming herself for the issue, she laid the fault upon the shoulders of some indistinct, colossal Prince of the world, who had framed her situation and ruled her lot."

Her Quarrel with Clym

      Mrs. Yeobright's death creates a sense of guilt in the mind of Clym, it constantly haunts his mind. As a result, of his probe into the circumstances leading to the death of his mother, a fierce quarrel takes place between him and Eustacia. But she is stubborn not to disclose her visitor's identity. Angered by Clym's attitude, she leaves the house and goes to her grandfather's house. We can experience the crowding guilt when she says to Wildeve "I am to blame this. There is evil in store for me. O, what shall I do?". To Charley in a later stage, she says "Why should I not die if I wish? I have made a bad bargain with life, and I am weary of it—weary".

Eustacia's Death

      Eustacia finally decides to escape from Egdon Heath. Her intense desire to be in Paris, and her predicament forces her to take a most unwise decision, all the more unwise in that she seeks Wildeve's help. On her way at night she realizes that she does not possess the required money. Her pride does not allow her to ask monetary help from Wildeve. She laments How I have tried and tried to be a splendid woman and "And how destiny has been against me I do not deserve my lot; O, how hard it is of Heaven to devise such tortures for me, who have done no harm to Heaven at all." On an earlier occasion she puts the entire blame on some "colossal Prince of the World." She does not hold the entire blame on her and it is a characteristic feature of Eustacia. Eustacia's own responsibility for the tragedy is substantial, though destiny plays a vital part in the shape of malicious accidents and coincidents.

University Questions

Eustacia Vye is responsible for the tragedy in The Return of the Native. Substantiate your views.

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