Return of the Native
The Prevalence of Coexistence in Nature
In Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native, the main character Clym Yeobright seems to disappoint everyone he loves upon his arrival home to Egdon Heath from Paris. His refusal to continue to lead the life he had previously been living in Paris is most upsetting to both his mother and his wife, Eustacia, for they both aspired for him to be something more than a simple man of the heath. Clym, however, sees no shame in conforming to the heath and becoming one with nature. Hardy’s detailing of the land and its creatures solidifies this idea; for example, he draws a parallel between Clym and the snakes of the heath when he writes “immediately following the shedding of their old skins… their colours are brightest” (Hardy 274). Though Clym’s physical appearance becomes dull as a furze-cutter, his “brightest colours” also surface when he sheds himself of his old life.
This symbolic imagery alludes to the fact that Clym all along was meant to exist within nature, not beside it. He embraces his embodiment of nature, even though it ultimately costs him his relationships with the two people he loves most. Prior to Clym’s endeavors as a furze-cutter, he is utterly infatuated with Ms. Eustacia Vye, who tactically distracts Clym for her own personal gains. Though her efforts are persistent, Clym is still inexplicably drawn to the heath. The land’s familiar grooves and animal inhabitants soothe him where no human can, subtly assuring him that he is right where he belongs. For example, when Clym’s eyesight begins to go, Eustacia feels frustration and hopelessness towards him, while Mrs. Yeobright is sympathetic. The heath, on the other hand, passes no judgement. Through his work cutting furze, he escapes his worldly troubles, and even the “huge flies… buzzed about him without knowing that he was a man” (Hardy 274). The flies inability to differentiate between Clym and one of their own is telling that not only does Clym fit in with the nature around him, but he is accepted by it.
Man is perhaps expected to swat away flies or regard them with a certain degree of disgust, yet there is a sort of mutual respect between the two; they see each other as components of the same system, instead of one being more valuable than the other. This equality encapsulates Clym’s relationship with the heath, further revealing the idea that Clym’s true identity is continuously interconnected with the heath.
This aforementioned acceptance is coupled with the detailing of the snakes in the field to again stress the idea that Clym is his best version of himself when he is submerged in nature. Hardy notes that the snakes “glided in their most brilliant blue and yellow guise” (274), bringing light to their natural beauty and magnificence, yet Clym is earlier mentioned as looking like a “brown spot in the midst of an expanse of olive-green gorse, and nothing more” (273). These seemingly contradictory descriptors, however, are not a direct stab at Clym. Instead, this imagery draws a parallel between Clym and the snakes of the heath; while the snakes are physically transitioning into their brightest colors, Clym is mentally transitioning into his brightest, most adept self. He “sheds himself” of his old Parisian lifestyle, even though everyone throughout Egdon thought of his life in Paris as glamorous, intellectually stimulating, and ideal; in the short amount of time that he has been back in the heath, Clym seems to have already found more tranquillity and enlightenment than he ever did in Paris. This transformation signifies that there is no going back for Clym, thus destroying his relationship with Eustacia. Clym is a devoted husband to his beloved wife Eustacia, but, just as many regard nature as unforgiving, Clym too is unforgiving in his decision to be the best, most authentic man he knows how to be.
The Return of the Native was originally published in 1878, only 19 years after Charles Darwin’s remarkable text On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, in which Darwin challenged the widely accepted idea of creationism. The idea that God was not singlehandedly responsible for the existence of humans was unheard of in the late nineteenth century, giving everyone something to talk about. According to science, nature, and travel writer David Quammen, The Origin is “undeniably one of the most significant books- if not the most- ever published in English… The Origin was one of those rare books in any language that triggered a genuine revolution in the way we humans see ourselves, our relationship to the world, and all other living creatures on the planet” (9). Hardy was clearly influenced by Darwin, considering the fact that he draws countless parallels between humans and animals. Clym, the snakes, and the flies, for example, are not clearly detailed as man vs. wild; Hardy makes it evidently clear that they all are linked in their mannerisms and demeanors. Clym is arguably the most genuine character in the novel, making it all the more heart wrenching to discover that even though he found himself through the heath, he lost the two women he held dearest to him. Hardy leaves it ambiguous as to whether or not a reader should blame Eustacia for Clym’s final fractured state of mind, but one thing is not left open ended: the heath practically serves as a character throughout the entirety of the book, and it is accepting only to those who treat it with the respect it deserves.
Love Triangles and the Complicating Factor of the Heath in The Return of the Native
In Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native, the heath is essentially treated as a character, albeit an extremely powerful one. Like the other characters, it loves possessively and without regard to the feelings of others. It competes with Ms. Yeobright and Eustacia for Clym’s affections, ultimately destroying all three of their lives.Thomas Hardy presents the heath as a character, which lives, loves, and feels in the same ways as the other characters. He opens the novel by introducing and describing the heath, giving the reader an initial glimpse of its rugged grandeur and raw, sometimes cruel, power:It was at present a place perfectly accordant with man’s nature – neither ghastly, hateful, nor ugly; neither commonplace, unmeaning, nor tame; but, like man, slighted and enduring; and withal singularly colossal and mysterious in its swarthy monotony. As with some persons who have long lived apart, solitude seemed to look out of its countenance. It had a lonely face, suggesting tragical possibilities. (pg 7)The heath is an illusory character, full of dark strength and mystery. While inhabitable, it is at its core an untamable, wild place, and “Civilization [is] its enemy.” (pg 7) Though a character and susceptible to human emotions, the heath has supernatural strength, and an unbridled capacity for violence. It wields its physical power over the humans that live on it, molding their lives as it desires.With the exception of Diggory Venn and Thomasin, “love” for the characters is more synonymous with possession than with romance. Wildeve exploits Thomasin, marrying her primarily to punish Eustacia. When Eustacia “loves” Wildeve, she thinks about him only in monetary terms, and her love fades when she perceives his social inferiority: . . . What was the man worth whom a woman inferior to herself did not value? . . . Her social superiority over him, which hitherto had scarcely ever impressed her, became unpleasantly insistent, and for the first time she felt that she had stooped in loving him. (pg 83)The heath is a jealous lover, and, like the other characters in the novel, it wishes not just to romance its objects of affection, but to possess them, both in body and in mind. No one in the novel manages to leave the heath alive: Either they remain out of free will like Thomasin, as victims of circumstance like Clym, or, like Eustacia and Wildeve, die in an attempt to escape it. The heath holds a special love for Clym. As evidenced by the title of the novel, Clym is a native of the area – in many ways a child of the heath, and an object of fascination for it and its commoner inhabitants. “. . . I’ll own that we was talking about ‘ee. We were wondering what could keep you home here mollyhorning about when you have made such a world-wide name for yourself. . . .” (pg 143-4) Clym decided that the life he was perusing was empty, and so he returns to his native land, proudly announcing, “I have come home.” (pg 144) He takes pleasure in the heath’s immutable glory:To many persons this Egdon was a place which had slipped out of its century generations ago, to intrude as an uncouth object into this. It was an obsolete thing, and few cared to study it… But as for Yeobright, when he looked from the heights on his way he could not help indulging in a barbarous satisfaction at observing that, in some of the attempts at reclamation from the waste, tillage, after holding on for a year or two, had receded again in despair, the ferns and furze-tufts stubbornly reasserting themselves. (pg 146-7)Clym’s lengthy excursions and decision to become a part-time furze-cutter indicate an urge to be in and with the heath. His compulsion is requited – the heath, overjoyed at his return, welcomes Clym warmly, a reunion akin to that of long-lost lovers:Bees hummed around his ears with an intimate air, and tugged at the heath and furze-flowers at his side in such numbers as to weight them down to the sod. The strange amber-colored butterflies which Egdon produced, and which were never seen elsewhere, quivered in the breath of his lips, alighted upon his bowed back, and sported with the glittering point of his hook as he flourished it up and down. (pg 209)The heath’s relationship with Eustacia Vye is not so intimate. Eustacia is no native to the heath: She was born outside of it, in the local town of Budmouth, but when her father died, she was moved to Egdon to be cared for by her grandfather. She feels trapped in the heath, an exile from “. . . what is called life – music, poetry, passion, war, and all the beating and pulsing that is going on in the world” (pg 233) and resents Destiny for imprisoning her there, “‘…You hate the heath as much as ever; that I know.’ ‘I do,’ she murmured deeply. ‘ ‘Tis my cross, my shame, and will be my death!’” (pg 71) Eustacia sees Clym as a way to get to Paris, and it is primarily this illusion that draws her to him. Even as he attempts to propose to Eustacia, her mind is off in Paris:‘There is only one cure for this anxiety, dearest – you must be my wife.’She started: then endeavored to say calmly, ‘Cynics say that cures the anxiety by curing the love.’‘But you must answer me. Shall I claim you some day – I don’t mean at once?’‘I must think,’ Eustacia murmured. ‘At present speak of Paris to me. Is there any place like it on earth?’ (pg 165)Ms. Yeobright is a proud woman, and while she accepts a life on the heath for herself, is no friend of it. Her conversations with Clym suggest that she sees life on the heath as inferior to life elsewhere. Even before Eustacia, she wants Clym to have a better life than the one he has set his sights on. When Ms. Yeobright becomes aware of her connection with Clym, she primarily blames Eustacia for his desire to stay: “It troubles me, Clym. You are wasting your life here; and it is solely on account of her. If it had not been for that woman you never would have entertained this teaching scheme at all.” (pg 161)From the very beginning of their interactions, Ms. Yeobright and Eustacia are at odds with one another. Ms. Yeobright, not entirely above listening to town gossip, not only warns Clym that Eustacia is not only inferior in her social standing, but questions her moral substance, “I have never heard that she is of any use to herself or to other people. Good girls don’t get treated as witches even on Egdon.” (pg 150) Ms. Yeobright is also worried that Eustacia is the reason that Clym wants to stay on the heath. She thinks that Eustacia ties him down, and resents her for it. For Eustacia, it is primarily arrogance and an inflated sense of dignity that causes her to fight with Ms. Yeobright:I am indignant; and so would any woman be. It was a condescension in me to be Clym’s wife, and not a maneuver, let me remind you; and therefore I will not be treated as a schemer whom it becomes necessary to bear with because she has crept into the family. (pg 203)The competition and fight that ensues between the two women creates what seems to be an irreconcilable division between them.The heath, which desires to possess Clym for itself, competes with Ms. Yeobright and Eustacia for Clym’s affections. The heath tries to satisfy all of Clym’s desires, even those of human companionship. It not only provides Clym with a living by cutting furze, but seeks to fulfill his need for intimacy. While Eustacia seeks to turn Clym’s head with her physical appeal, the heath arrays Clym in an aura of organic finery, courting him with “litters of young rabbits,” (pg 209) and “tribes of emerald-green grasshoppers.” (pg 209). It is, in a sense, putting on a show for Clym, trying to draw him in to ensure his fidelity. It is also presented as a mother figure to Clym: [Clym] might be said to be its product. His eyes had first opened thereon; with its appearance all the first images of his memory were mingled; his estimate of life had been colored by it; his toys had been the flint knives and arrow-heads which he found there, wondering why stones should ‘grow’ to such odd shapes; his flowers, the purple bells and yellow furze; his animal kingdom, the snakes and croppers; his society, its human haunters. (pg 146)The heath is an extraordinarily narcissistic character. It seeks to replace his mother and wife, not to benefit Clym, but because it wants him to be completely dependent on it. Because it cannot emote as a human would, the heath often expresses its feelings in the weather, which is a prime indicator of the mood of a scene in the novel. When it becomes agitated or angry, the heath turns wild and tumultuous. The storm following Clym and Eustacia’s decision to marry expresses the heath’s anger at their union and what it implicates for Clym’s future:The weather was far different from that of the evening before. . . The wet young beeches were undergoing amputations, bruises, cripplings, and harsh lacerations, from which would leave scars visible till the day of their burning. Each stem was wrenched at the root, where it moved like a bone in its socket, and at every onset of the gale convulsive sounds came from the branches, as if pain were felt. (pg 175) The heath demonstrates its destructive power in the storm, a dark omen of things to come. Though Eustacia and Ms. Yeobright compete with each other for Clym’s attention, they share a common hope for his future. Both women want Clym to return to Paris – Ms. Yeobright because it is what will be best for him, and Eustacia because she hopes that Clym will take her away from her stifled existence on the heath. Ms. Yeobright says to Clym, “I fully expected that in the course of a month or two you would have seen the folly of such self-sacrifice, and would have been by this time back again to Paris in some business or other.” (pg 144) She expects much of Clym, and is worried by his decision to “go back in the world.” Eustacia, by far the more egocentric of the two, is mainly concerned with what she hopes to gain from marriage to Clym – a life in Paris. Despite their different motivations, the women are in agreement with one another on this subject.For most of the novel, Eustacia and Ms. Yeobright live very separate lives, each trying to keep as much distance as possible from the other. However, Ms. Yeobright, wracked with despair and loneliness, eventually decides to swallow her pride and visit Clym and Eustacia. She hopes to reconcile herself with Eustacia, but primarily to reunite with Clym, whom she misses greatly. When Ms. Yeobright sets out for Clym’s house, the heath, trying to keep the two apart, whips up an oppressive heat wave:The sun had branded the whole heath with his mark, even the purple heath-flowers having put on a brownness under the dry blazes of the few preceding days… In cool, fresh weather Mrs. Yeobright would have found no inconvenience in walking to Alderworth, but the present torrid attack made the journey a heavy undertaking for a woman past middle age… (pg 228) Single-minded in her determination to make things right, Ms. Yeobright foolishly decides to brave the weather, physically exhausting herself in the process. “…She sat for twenty minutes or more ere she could summon resolution to go down to the door, her courage being lowered to zero by her physical lassitude.” (pg 230) When she arrives at Clym’s house, she is shut out and unable to regain her strength. Though physically spent and weary with grief, Ms. Yeobright lets theatrics get the best of her and, abandoning her common sense, immediately heads back towards her home: Clym’s mother was at this time following a path which lay hidden from Eustacia by a shoulder of the hill. Her walk thither from the garden gate had been hasty and determined, as of a woman who was now no less anxious to escape from the scene than she had previously been to enter it. (pg 236)Ms. Yeobright’s heat-of-the-moment decision proves to be a mistake – she is unable to make it home and lays down in the heath to rest. As she sleeps, the heath sees its opportunity to strike, and an adder bites her leg, inflicting a fatal wound. Ms. Yeobright didn’t die of “natural causes;” she was murdered by the heath. The heath, that covetous, cruel entity, saw her as an obstacle to its relationship with Clym, and slew her so that it might have Clym for itself. Ms. Yeobright, already a rival to the heath simply by virtue of being his mother, also wanted him to move to Paris. Though Clym seemed resolute in his decision to stay in the heath, “‘How extraordinary that you and my mother should be of one mind about this!’ said Yeobright. ‘I have vowed not to go back, Eustacia.’” (pg 166), an alliance between Ms. Yeobright and Eustacia could have jeopardized his relationship with the heath. By killing her, the heath eliminates competition for Clym’s attention and ensures that a union between Ms. Yeobright and Clym or Eustacia is impossible. The murder also serves to widen the split between Clym and his wife – Once he discovers the truth, Clym lays the blame for his mother’s death on Eustacia:You shut the door – you looked out of the window upon her – you had a man in the house with you- you sent her away to die. The inhumanity – the treachery – I will not touch you – stand away from me- and confess every word! . . . Forgive you I never can. (Pgs 271-2)Here the heath first demonstrates the full extent of its possessiveness and capacity for calculated brutality. It refuses to be deserted and would rather take a life than risk having anyone, especially Clym, leave it. The heath again lashes out when Eustacia and Wildeve attempt to run off together to Budmouth. Though the cause is left ambiguous, Eustacia ends up drowned in the midst of a storm, unable to break free from her Israelite-esque captivity on the heath:. . . The light from Yeobright’s lamp shed a flecked and agitated radiance across the wir-pool, revealing to the ex-engineer the tumbling courses of the currents from the hatches above. Across this gashed and puckered mirror a dark body was slowly borne by one of the backward currents. (pg 306)She was Clym’s last intimate human connection, and with her death goes his capacity for emotional attachment:Every pulse of loverlike feeling which had not been stilled during Eustacia’s lifetime had gone into the grave with her. His passion for her had occurred too far on in his manhood to leave fuel enough on hand for another fire of that sort, as may happen with more boyish loves. (pg 320)With both Eustacia and Ms. Yeobright dead, Clym is left destitute of human companionship, suspended in a state of spiritual limbo. He has no reason or motivation to leave the heath, and so there he stays, making a living as a local itinerant preacher. He is reduced to lengthy speeches and long, lonesome walks to visit the graves of Eustacia and his mother. At last, the heath has achieved its goal of singularly possessing Clym’s mind and body, but at the expense of his, Eustacia’s, and Ms. Yeobright’s lives. The heath’s narcissism and possessive love for Clym brings it into a vicious rivalry for his attention. It alters the course of Clym, Eustacia, and Ms. Yeobright’s lives, ultimately bringing them to tragic ends.
The Other Eustacia
“Hardy summons into us a graphic dimension, and then, apparently without realizing the danger in doing so, he allows another Eustacia to enter his novel. This Eustacia emerges, through a consistent patter of speech and action as a creature unfit for the lonely peaks of tragedy.” In his essay “The Other Eustacia,” Robert Evans holds that through allusions to Greek tradition, Hardy sets the stage for a classical tragedy, but then disappoints his readers with a character more on the level of the average teenage rebel. Evans writes, “This then, is the other Eustacia, an emotionally unstable adolescent girl given to self pity and melancholy, basically cold and selfish.” He supports his arguments with examples of Eustacia’s behavior. She loves Clym as a source of momentary passion and fails to comfort him in his time of need because of her own self-pity. Additionally, Evans accuses Eustacia of “petulance and childishness” in her willingness to trample Thomasin Yeobright to achieve her own personal pleasure. Because Evans’s analysis concludes that Eustacia’s fall is the result of her own shortcomings as an immature romantic and melancholy adolescent, in his opinion The Return of the Native lacks the greatness of true tragic fiction.Robert Evans fails to produce a viable explanation of Hardy’s portrayal of Eustacia because he chooses to concentrate on the contradictions rather then the connections between the “queen of night” and the “courtly pretender.” Eustacia the social rebel and the tragic heroine work together to produce a thematic representation of the conflict between individual and community. This interpretation of the dual image of Eustacia realizes the potential of the novel and supports the tragic proportions suggested throughout the work. The “courtly pretender,” who Evans criticizes for undermining the tragedy of the novel, plays a key role in developing a realistic human picture of Eustacia. As an author interested in presenting an authentic representation of the human condition, Hardy explores the tragic clash between Eustacia’s passionate dreams and the harsh reality of the world in which she lives. Careful examination of her background and situation refute criticism of her actions as selfish or ridiculous. Evans attacks her lack of concern for Thomasin when trying to seduce Wildeve. Her actions may appear self-centered, but in actuality her reaction is natural for someone lacking communal influence.The women of the heath hate Eustacia because her beauty endangers the security of their marriages and their sons’ futures. Trying to protect her son from Eustacia, Mrs. Yeobright voices her suspicion: “Miss Vye is to my mind too idle to be charming. I have never heard that she is of any use to herself or to other people. Good girls don’t get treated as witches even on Egdon” (Hardy 237). Eustacia does not practice witchcraft, but her ability to charm men turns her into the avowed enemy of the women around her. Although she captivates men, their idolatry does not provide her with normal relationships either. For them she represents the goddess far above their own earthly existence, “a romantic and sweet vision, scarcely incarnate” (397).Living with her withdrawn grandfather, Eustacia does not have a normal family to provide the human relationships she lacks because of her separation from the heath people. As a social outcast and an orphan, Eustacia finds herself isolated from the people who might teach her the values of Christian charity. Eustacia understandably does not feel compelled to sacrifice her own happiness for people with whom she feels no connection. When she seems unconcerned about the social repercussions of her efforts to steal Wildeve from Thomasin, Hardy emphasizes that social rebellion does not reflect an inherently evil character. He writes, “This did not originate in inherent shamelessness, but in her living too far from the world to feel the impact of public opinion… As far as social ethics were concerned Eustacia approached the savage state”(149). Eustacia naturally does not care about the effect of her actions on Thomasin Yeobright, a woman she neither knows personally nor cares about. On a concrete level, the “courtly pretender” emerges as a rebellious teenager ignorant of human relationships, which would teach her the importance of compromising her own desires for the good of others.Although criticized by Evans as naive, Eustacia’s desire for passion, rather than the continuity of a monogamous marriage, merely reflects her separation from the practicality of the heath wives. For Eustacia, love is an escape from the mundane existence of the heath, not a way of marrying a secure existence. As Hardy writes: “Love was to her the one cordial which could drive away the eating loneliness of her days. And she seemed to long for the abstraction called passionate love more than any particular lover” (121). Though she marries Clym, she fears the consequences of her decision. She muses to Clym: “Nothing can ensure the continuance of love. It will evaporate like a spirit, and so I feel full of fears…I do not think I shall be the one who wearies first” (255). Since the marriage Eustacia was familiar with generally led to the loss of what little freedom a woman had, she understandably prefers “passionate love” and is suspicious of the confinement of marriage. She has an accurate understanding of the harsh reality of marriage on the heath, a realization that further divides her from the rest of the community.As a character whose defense of the individual manifests itself as social rebellion, Eustacia the “courtly pretender” and Eustacia the “queen of night” are not contradictory images, but rather the concrete and symbolic manifestation of the same character. As a young woman without the support of people around her, Eustacia follows her own social ethics rather than those of her community. She longs for a “passionate love” as an escape from the limits of life on the heath. Through Eustacia, Hardy attempts to realistically portray the struggle of an orphan and social outcast. Beyond exploring Eustacia on a concrete level, Hardy also places her in the context of a thematic struggle between individuals and their community. Hardy uses lofty language, historic allusions, and images of the “queen of night” to emphasize this symbolism. This dual portrayal of The Return of the Native’s heroine plays a fundamental role in the tragic style of the work. The novel successfully incorporates elements of the Greek tragedy while also advancing a more modern view of the empathetic tragic heroine. Through Eustacia the “queen of night,” Hardy inherits the legacies of the Greek tragedians and suggests the historic context of the conflict between man and his community in human society. As the more human and fundamentally flawed “courtly pretender,” however, Hardy’s Eustacia challenges the element of Greek tragedy that elevates tragic heroes to unreachable Olympian heights.Works ConsultedEvans, Robert. “The Other Eustacia.” Nineteenth Century Fiction. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1968. 39-48.Hardy, Thomas. The Return of the Native. London: Penguin Books, 1985.
Vying and Dying to Leave
John Gardner once said that there are only two types of stories: someone leaving home or a stranger coming into town; The Return of the Native meets both of these in a way. Eustacia wishes to leave, while Clym returns, but seems to be almost a different person. Hardy’s work offers a unique insight into the plight not only of a man trying to return to the heath that highlighted his youth, but also the attempt of an ambitious young girl to outgrow her meager surroundings. A particularly interesting passage is the section immediately before Eustacia Yeobright’s flight, and ultimately, catastrophic death. The episode is made more tragic than a simple accident because of her wish to leave the heath as her low-vaulted past. These pages not only serve to blame fate and nature in the foreshadowing of Eustacia’s death, but also portray it as tragic and disillusioning because of the narrator’s attempts to raise sympathy for her.From the outset, it is made clear that this death is not only fatalistic, but also naturalistic. “The gloom of the night was funeral (345),” foreshadows the soon-to-be tragedy. On her walk, she is “occasionally stumbling over twisted furze-roots (345),” showing how close Eustacia is to disaster, and this occurs before the weather is completely set against her; at this point, the narrator has let us know that this high-hoping debatably-heroic is doomed. Also, “weather and isolation (346),” are referred to in the context of what someone may pity her for, showing not only the author’s naturalistic leanings in setting man against nature, but also the idea of modernism, showing Eustacia as detached from everything.The narrator also parallels these events to famous occasions of contemplation and death Christ’s meditation and prayer at Gethsemane, the plague that ravaged firstborns in Egypt, and the fall of the Assyrian Great, Sennacherib. Christ was a sacrificial lamb whose outgrew his contemporaries; Sennacherib could be described as a great warrior and leader that fell by his sons’ hands; the plague in Egypt was prophesied by Moses, so in the hours before midnight, the Egyptians waited nervously to see if the God of the Jews would truly bring down vengeance on them. All of these stories are Biblically linked, a great contrast from the paganistic relationship Eustacia has with the world. There is, however, foreshadowing in this passage Sennacherib had a link with his killers, as Eustacia was connected to the heath and nature. Christ was in contemplation about what course of action would be best, until he was interrupted and arrested (which lead to death). The mention of the plague simply furthers the feeling of foreboding that has been instilled so far at the appointed hour, death will come.To stir more emotion into Eustacia Yeobright’s death, the narrator attempts to make the reader identify her as a sympathetic character. Using Wildeve for money was “impossible to a woman with a shadow of pride left in her (346),” which is out of character for Eustacia. She had always seemed to have no qualms using men for what they could give her, but this implication evokes questions of a dynamic Mrs. Yeobright — has she changed, or does the reader simply not have a good understanding of her until this point? Regardless, this passage serves to build sympathy for Eustacia; although she needs money, she will stay true to her standards.The narrator adds to this concept by later stating that, “Anyone would have pitied her…for the other form of misery which was denoted by the slightly rocking movement that her feelings had imparted to her movement(346).” By stating this, the speaker claims that people would pity her not only because of his words, but by simply looking at her, you would be moved. It was so bad that, “Extreme unhappiness weighed visibly upon her (346).”Eustacia began the work as a beautiful and driven individual, self-assured of her future successes — by reading the end of this passage, however, one would never gather that. The narrator states “the wings of her soul were broken by the cruel obstructiveness of all about her (346).” Not only is she symbolically stuck in the heath (she no longer has wings to fly away), but she is held by force — Egdon Heath will not let her out. This adds to the isolation concept, as she is alone because she cannot go anywhere to find people. The speaker goes on in speaking of Eustacia’s lowly position by explaining that she was talking and sobbing to herself, and “when a woman in such a situation, neither old, deaf, crazed, nor whimsical, takes upon herself to sob and soliloquise aloud there is something grievous the matter (346).” This once-pillar of self-centeredness and confidence has fallen to the lowest depths: that of the aged and insane again, the narrator attempts to direct pity toward her.Although at some points in the work one would scoff at pitying Eustacia Yeobright, this scene would change nearly any reader’s mind on the subject. While very selfish, Eustacia is one of the only truly ambitious characters in the book she wants more than her lot. By turning her into a sobbing shadow of a woman, the narrator marginalizes her former confidence, leaving one to question, why aim high…I will simply fail. Nature and fate both assailed this young lady, making her death even more tragic, as it is of no fault of her own by the time weather hit, it was too late to turn back. Even though it seems hard to pity this woman, the combination of forces against her coupled with her collapse of confidence and narratorial sympathy make her death both tragic and disillusioning.
The Unreliable World in The Return of the Native
In his novel The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy creates an unreliable world of misconceptions and coincidences by paralleling the setting of Egdon Heath to reality, as perceived through human nature, to convey his theme. Throughout the novel, the characters struggle with the obscurity of life on the heath, and ultimately, their own natural flaws, which govern events surrounding them. Hardy uses kinesthetic and visual imagery, connotative diction, and parallel syntax to support the theme that due to the inconsistency and fallibility nature of human perception, no conclusive conception of reality exists.The author stresses the ambiguity of reality through kinesthetic and visual imagery. The novel functions on the characters’ individual perceptions, which cause several interpretations of reality to exist concurrently. Thus, the weather patterns and miens of the heath correspond with the ambiguous motives, blemished natures, and erratic perceptions of the characters. Hardy writes, “…the permanent moral expression of each face it was impossible to discover, for as the nimble flames towered, nodded, and swooped through the surrounding air, the blots of shade and flakes of light upon the countenances of the group changed shape and position endlessly. All was unstable; quivering as leaves, evanescent as lightning” (I.iii.). The kinesthetic imagery creates dashing movements, and thus, unpredictability through words such as “swooped,” “flakes,” “quivering,” “evanescent,” “towered,” and “nimble.” This reinforces the complexity of perception: ambiguity pervades reality on the heath and thus, the nature of its inhabitants, as Hardy states, impossibly obscuring the true character of each person. Therefore, due to the overall obscurity of human perception, as symbolized by the bonfire flames, one cannot decisively classify reality, demonstrated by the heath. The human experience, Hardy argues, remains one of inescapable subjectivity. Moreover, he writes, “The thorn bushes which arose in his path from time to time were less satisfactory, for they whistled gloomily, and had the ghastly habit after dark of putting on the shapes of jumping madmen, sprawling giants, and hideous cripples” (I.viii.). Hardy elaborates on the inconsistent reality of the heath. Bushes by day become horrid specters by night in this example of visual imagery. The author’s ghastly descriptions evoke images of wicked beings creeping in the night and imply a sense of peril provoked by the obscurity of individual perception. Perception allows humans to define their individual reality, but blinds them from agreeing on a consensual definition of reality like the night blinds a traveler. Lost in dark, his perception of the truth becomes blurred. Both examples of imagery evoke a sense of nonuniformity, in both cases ominous, proving that human perception remains complex, obscure, erratic, and unable to reliably conclude on one interpretation of reality.In another successful attempt to reinforce his theme, Hardy uses diction that promotes confusion and subjectivity. The author describes the heath as, “…a place perfectly accordant with man’s nature,” (I.i). To elaborate, Hardy states, “The untameable, Ishmaelitish thing that Egdon now was it always had been” (I.i). The word “Ishmaelitish” literally means “of Arab origin,” but connotes a sense of isolation: Abraham cast Ishmael and mother Hagar away in favor of Isaac and Sarah, but Ishmael survived and later founded the Arab race. Moreover, during the late 1800s, when Hardy wrote The Return of the Native, the Arab culture remained, to many foreigners, one of mystique and fantasy. Often portrayed as shamans, nomads, and dervishes, Arabs hailed from the land of dazzling genies, magic carpets, and shrouded harems2E This compares to Hardy’s characterization of reality as essentially evasive and obscure. The “Ishmaelitish” heath, a symbol for reality, remains in a constant state of revision. Thus, the wandering quality of the heath, or reality arises from the mutable nature of perception. Next, the author addresses the chaos of life when he writes, “There was something in its oppressive horizontality which too much reminded him of the arena of life; it gave him a sense of bare equality with, and no superiority to, a single living thing under the sun” (III.v.). Hardy refers to the flat environment of Egdon Heath as “oppressive,” connoting that it stifles humans. This in turn implies that the different perceptions clashing within the novel create an ambiguous reality: the downfalls of many characters occur because misjudgments arise from varying perceptions. Everyone remains equal since humans misinterpret, and thus, hurt one another because of their incomplete conception of reality. Hence, “oppressive” describes human existence since every human can only conceive his own reality. This supports the theme that because perception differs from individual to individual, absolute reality cannot exist.To support his theme, the author also uses sentences created by parallel syntax. Parallelism demonstrates the complex elements that form an abstract idea of reality. The author writes, “A well proportioned mind is…one of which we may safely say that it will never cause its owner to be confined as a madman, tortured as a heretic, or crucified as a blasphemer. Also, on the other hand, that it will never cause him to be applauded as a prophet, revered as a priest, or exalted as a king” (III.ii.). Here, Hardy introduces two antithetical sentences partially from parallel dependent clauses. He notes that the qualities of a superhuman, revered or reviled, arise from the same imbalance of the mind. Thus, one cannot conclusively classify such a person as good or evil, since his condition occurs from a mental imbalance shared by all others who reach his remarkable status. Based on his own perception, anyone can freely deem a given individual as good or evil. This creates a blurred obscurity between prophet and heretic, murderer and martyr, madman and genius, and ultimately within reality itself as the identically structured sentences show. Finally, Hardy writes, “Indeed, the impulses of all such outlandish hamlets are pagan still: in these spots homage to nature, self-adoration, frantic gaieties, fragments of Teutonic rites to divinities whose names are forgotten, have some way or other survived mediaeval doctrine” (VI.i.). In this sentence, Hardy forms a portrait of paganism through parallel phrases. The author’s mention of pagan customs characterizes the inhabitants of Egdon Heath as free from the confines of Christianity, depicting them as whimsical people who live to serve their human nature. The syntax enhances this meaning because of frantic, fast-paced quality of the sentence created: it evokes the gleeful abandon of paganism as well as a mystical element of fantasy. More importantly, the pagan sense of multiple realities created by the sentence supports the theme that blemished individual perception makes it impossible for one definitive definition of reality to exist.Throughout the novel The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy creates an atmosphere of ambiguity and unreliability. This obscurity arises from his indispensable comparison between Egdon Heath and reality, as seen through individual perceptions, and creates his poignant, holistic theme. Furthermore, Hardy uses kinesthetic and visual imagery, connotative diction, and parallel syntax to support his theme that inconsistent and often fallible human perception ensures that no absolute conception of reality exists.
Love and Modernity: Analysis of Relationships in The Return of the Native
The Victorian novel often focuses on prominent, relevant issues of the time during which it is written. These issues can range from class, ambition, and gender to love, sexuality, and desire. Authors of the Victorian era delivered insight on these often controversial topics through the characters in their novels. Because of the prevalence of these issues in the Victorian novel, authors often have overlapping views and insights. However, in Thomas Hardy’s novel The Return of the Native, Hardy delivers his views on desire and romantic love with a unique spin. Hardy explores the ideas of desire for social status and possession versus romantic desire through the various relationships in the novel; in doing so, he examines the implications of modernity within these relationships.There are a number of significant couplings within The Return of the Native. The most obvious of these are Eustacia and Clym, Eustacia and Wildeve, and Thomasin and Diggory Venn. The first, Eustacia and Clym, offers a clear depiction of a marriage that is motivated by desire for social achievement. When Eustacia hears of Clym’s return from Paris, she immediately romanticizes her image of him, picturing him as a wealthy man of the world who has the ability to move her away from the heath, thus elevating her social standing. When Eustacia overhears two men talking about Clym’s return to the heath, she immediately begins to fantasize, thinking, “A young and clever man was coming into that lonely heath from, of all contrasting places in the world, Paris. It was like a man coming from heaven”(110). Although Eustacia has never met or even seen Clym, she assumes that because of his time spent in Paris he is sophisticated and wealthy, two qualities she esteems above all others. She vows to form a relationship with Clym, and succeeds in marrying him. Eustacia’s desire to marry Clym for social advancement is similar to a relationship within another well-known Victorian novel: that of Catherine and Edgar Linton in Charlotte Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Much as Eustacia sees Clym as a way to raise her social standing, Catherine views Edgar as useful in the same capacity. When Nelly questions Catherine’s motives for marrying Edgar, she responds by saying, “And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband” (66). Each of these women marry out of their desire for social advancement.Yet in Return of the Native, Hardy explores the ways in which modernity complicates this sort of marriage. The Clym that Eustacia marries does not live up to the Clym of her fantasies. Modern and forward-thinking, Clym has little concern for material luxury and wealth, instead focusing on his desire to educate the people of the heath. This disrupts the marriage, as Clym truly does love Eustacia yet refuses to compromise his modern ideals. Eustacia’s realization that Clym has no intention of returning to Paris with her shatters her image of Clym as a worldly, sophisticated gentleman. She admits her disappointment first to Mrs. Yeobright, saying, “And if I had known then what I know now, that I should be living in this wild heath a month after my marriage, I – I should have thought twice about agreeing” (239). Shortly thereafter, she reveals to Clym that she is appalled by his choice of occupation, telling him, “But it is so dreadful – a furze-cutter! and you a man who have lived about the world, and speak French, and know the classics, and who are fit for what is so much better than this” (251). Here, Eustacia’s desire for social advancement and wealth is prevented by Clym’s modernity.The relationship between Eustacia and Damon Wildeve is drastically different from that of Eustacia and Clym. These two characters act as though they are passionately in love, yet it appears as though “act” is the key word in this relationship. Both Damon and Eustacia are volatile and emotional characters, and seem to spend much of the novel acting on whims and attempting to make each other jealous. It is as though possession and competition are the driving forces behind this relationship. When Damon and Eustacia meet on the heath after his near-marriage to Thomasin, Eustacia tells Damon that she has heard that he did not marry the other woman, “And I knew it was because you loved me best, and couldn’t do it”(64). Eustacia’s pleasure at Damon’s return lies in her “victory” over Thomasin, and not out of genuine love for Damon. She practically admits that her affection for Damon is superficial, telling Diggory Venn that, “I should have cared nothing for him had there been a better person near”(93). Eustacia’s behavior in this relationship is similar to Estella Havisham’s in Dickens’ novel Great Expectations. Both women feel that they have an almost magnetic appeal to their male companions, and view the relationship as a game. When Estella and Pip meet after their long separation since childhood, Pip still recognizes the ways in which Estella plays with him, saying, “She treated me as a boy still, but she lured me on” (235). Like Eustacia, Estella’s relationship with Pip is primarily a source of amusement to her, a way for her to exert power over him.Yet unlike the relationship between Pip and Estella, in Hardy’s novel the dynamics of Eustacia and Wildeve’s relationship are double-sided; Eustacia is not the only player in the game. Damon as well views their relationship as a show of power, or more specifically, possession. Throughout the novel, he wavers back and forth between Thomasin and Eustacia, using each as a tool to make the other jealous. Hardy’s initial description of Wildeve is the most accurate and self-explanatory illustration of his character; Hardy writes, “He was quite a young man, and of the two properties, form and motion, the latter first attracted the eye in him. The grace of his movement was singular: it was the pantomimic expression of a lady-killing career”(45). In this relationship, both Eustacia and Damon are motivated not by love, but by a desire to possess one another, to exert their control over each other. As a modern novelist, Hardy disallows this type of relationship, showing through the ultimate demise of not simply Damon and Eustacia’s relationship, but also the characters themselves, that modernity denies a relationship of possession.As such, of each of the Victorian novels discussed in this essay, Hardy’s Return of the Native is the only one that features a couple who has married for love, not social advancement or control, and who is happy within this union based on romantic love. That couple is, of course, Thomasin and Diggory Venn. Unlike Bronte and Dickens, Hardy’s novel illustrates the modern couple as one whose marriage is based on love and respect, as well as showing the progression of such a relationship. At the start of the novel, Diggory Venn is transporting Thomasin back to her aunt after her failed attempt at marriage to Wildeve. When he meets Captain Vye along the way and the elderly gentleman asks if the woman in the wagon is Diggory’s wife, he responds by saying, “My wife!…She’s above mating with such as I” (15). At this point in the novel, it appears that social status will stand in the way of this relationship, especially when the reader learns of Diggory’s proposal to Thomasin two years prior. However, even though Thomasin declines Diggory’s proposal, she does so with a great deal of respect and courtesy to him, saying, “You must not becall me for laughing when you spoke; you mistook when you thought I laughed at you as a foolish man. I laughed because the idea was so odd, and not at you at all” (81). Here, Thomasin seems to be referring to the fact that society has instilled in her the idea that marrying “beneath” oneself is unheard of, and that she still admires and respects Diggory Venn’s character. And at the end of the novel, Thomasin does indeed come to love Diggory Venn, despite Clym’s objections that she should marry a “professional man” from the town. Thomasin responds by telling Clym that she, like him, could not be happy living away from the heath, and asking, “…how could you say that I should marry some town man? I am sure, say what you will, that I must marry Diggory, if I marry at all. He has been kinder to me than anybody else, and hs helped me in many ways that I don’t know of” (385). Here, Hardy exhibits a typically modern relationship that is based on simply romantic love and respect. While it could be argued that the relationship is only permitted because Diggory is now no longer a lowly reddleman and has obtained ownership of the dairy, Thomasin’s respect and fondness for Diggory from the start of the novel reveal that the only thing that has changed in her opinion of Diggory is the growth of a platonic affection into a solid love relationship.As a Victorian novelist, Hardy examines many of the same issues that other novelists of the era explore. Like Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, which showed the relationship of Catherine and Edgar Linton as one motivated by a desire for social advancement, Hardy’s Return of the Native offers a similar relationship in Eustacia and Clym. Additionally, much like Dickens’ portrayal of the manipulative control held by Estella over Pip in Great Expectations, Hardy shows not only how Eustacia exerts a similar control over Damon but, in contrast to Estella and Pip’s relationship, illustrates how this manipulation works both ways. As a modern novelist, however, Hardy does much more than simply depict the commonality of these types of relationships; he also explores the effects of modernity on each coupling, as well as offering a portrayal of a modern couple whose union is based on love and respect. In doing so, Hardy delivers a refreshingly different insight into issues that other Victorian novels deal with rather uniformly, securing his place in the literary canon as a groundbreaking author.
Hardy’s Fatalistic View of Life As Shown Through The Return of the Native
The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy, begins with personification of a majestic heath, the setting for this novel: “The face of the heath by its mere complexion added half an hour to evening; it could… retard the dawn, sadden noon, anticipate the frowning of storms… and intensify the opacity of a moonless midnight to a cause of shaking and dread.” Yet these emotionally intense descriptions are extremely misleading, for in reality the heath is an inanimate object which possesses no feelings, opinions, or biases. It is an immortal place, and continues to exist as its inhabitants live their lives and die. In contrast with the heath is man himself: mortal and vulnerable, selfish, and always looking to advance his place in the world. This novel shows the dominance of nature over man, stressing man’s impermanence against the infinity of nature. This belief, also known as fatalism, is emphasized throughout the novel. This view is shared by the character of Clym Yeobright, who survives at the end of the story, but is contrasted by Eustacia Vye, who rebels against these ideas, leading to her own downfall. The views of these characters are emphasized through their own actions, their interactions with other characters in the book, allusions to biblical references, and the use of motifs. Fatalistic views can best be illustrated through Clym Yeobright’s character and relationships with the other characters of the novel. On his own, Clym believes that everyone’s lives are predetermined, and that fate will direct what will happen to a person. Because of this, Clym is able to constantly revise his lifestyle to adapt to what his life brings to him. He takes all of his successes and failures in stride, because he knows within his life there is an underlying reason and plan for what is happening. His first big life change occurs when he decided that life in Paris was not for him, and that he must return to his native land, and live his life on the heath. This is almost like a birthright, for although he is an extraordinary person, shown through his description, at heart he is a man of the heath. Clym is again forced to make a modification in his lifestyle when he is blinded. This is a major set-back to Clym’s plans of setting up a school to educate the people of the heath. But, instead of being devastated by it, as Eustacia is, Clym decides to continue on with his life as best he can in spite of this new obstacle. Although he is an exceptional person, Clym finds no shame in becoming a furze-cutter, the typical job of a heathsman. He even enjoys the job, as, “the monotony of his occupation soothed him, and was in itself a pleasure… [his] effort offered homely courses.” Clym’s enjoyment of his new work shows that he is at peace with physis, and he sings songs of delight while working. This flexibility that Clym shows in his lifestyle exemplifies his notion of fatalism, and shows how he survives life on the heath. During the novel, there is an allusion to Oedipus, “[Clym’s] mouth had passed into the phase more or less imaginatively rendered in the studies of Oedipus.” This allusion is really the mention of Clym’s partial parallel, as he is very much like Oedipus in numerous ways. In the tale of Oedipus, he gouges his eyes out when he finds out that he married his mother; Clym’s equivalent is that he is blind. When Oedipus first came back to the town of his birth, the people lauded him as a hero and gave him the gift of the queen; later, however, when the truth was discovered that the queen was really Oedipus’ mother, it caused much harm and bad happenings. Likewise, everyone on the heath is very happy to have Clym return from Paris, but after a while, his return causes disturbances on the heath, and leads indirectly to the deaths of Mrs. Yeobright, Eustacia, and Wildeve. In addition, it is suspected that Clym has an Oedipus complex, and that name is derived from Oedipus’ marriage to his mother. This shows fatalism because the entire story of Oedipus is based on a series of omens (which told of his fate), and miscommunications. Because Oedipus is a partial parallel to Clym, Clym’s return to the heath can be seen as being predetermined, as Oedipus’ life was based on fate as well. Fatalism is also shown through the people of the heath. The people who live there are innocent and simple, trying to cope with their day-to-day struggles as best they can. Their dialect, which is simple and softly accented, illustrates their naturalness, “‘Twas to be if ëtwas, I suppose.'” These people lead menial lives; still they accept, and are content with, whatever comes their way. This is a part of what makes them so innocent. It is this fatalistic approach that allows them to survive live on a place like the heath, and to be happy and at-one with nature. One way they try to cope with this harsh, rustic lifestyle is through rituals. Their annual November 5 bonfire introduces the heathfolk into the story. This bonfire is their way of trying to lighten the darkness of the coming winter, which could be symbolic of the dismal lives they lead. They enjoy dancing around the bonfire in a circle, and, even after the fire goes out, they continue with their dance, showing of their untold peace with nature. Dancing seems to be a common practice at most other special events: “‘You be bound to dance at Christmas because ëtis the time o’ year; you must dance at weddings because ëtis the time o’ life. At christenings folk will even smuggle in a reel or two…'” These dances help to put hope and good times into the heathfolks’ lives and to be together as a community. Thomasin could also be considered as a person of the heath, for she is simple and natural, and abides by the laws of nature. Thomasin is first described as possessing, “A fair, sweet, and honest country face… reposing in a nest of wavy chestnut hair… The grief had… abstracted nothing of the bloom… The scarlet of her lips had not had time to abate…” These numerous references, (country, nest, chestnut, bloom, scarlet (as in berries)), illustrates how Thomasin was very much in accordance with nature. Thomasin reveals her fatalistic views when dealing with her relationship with Wildeve. Although she knows that it is not truly in her best interest after their non-marriage, Thomasin agrees to marry Wildeve again. She realizes that if she does not marry Wildeve that the heathfolk will gossip about her and Clym will be ashamed. This self-consciousness helps her stay on-track with her fate. She accepts Wildeve’s second marriage proposal with the following view: “‘I agreed to it… [because] I am a practical woman now. I do not believe in hearts at all. I would marry him under any circumstances…'” Throughout the novel, Thomasin goes along with her fate, and is rewarded with happiness at the end of the story through her second marriage. However, not all heathpeople are as in sync with nature as Thomasin. Christian Cantle’s character shows views opposing fatalism. This is a very superstitious man who is afraid of most everything. Basically, his fears take him out-of-line with fate, yet it is also his fears that put him back on-track. This is illustrated during the November 5 bonfire. When darkness comes, Christian is the only person who suggests that all the heathfolk head home right away and that, “Fifth-of Novembers ought [not] to be kept up by night except in towns. It should be by day in outstep, ill-accounted places like this!” This suggestion is spurned by the universal human fear of the dark and unknown. However, what he is suggesting would break rituals, which are the way for the heathfolk to cope in their fatalistic society. However, the other heathfolk tell him that is a foolish idea. Christian’s low self-esteem gives him fear of speaking out against them, and he returns to his fated course. Another time, Christian’s extreme superstitious nature leads to rebellion as well. When he wins a raffle on the way to delivering guineas to Clym and Thomasin, Christian thinks that this is a sign that he is lucky. Although he has no wife or girlfriend, his prize of a gown-piece elates him. This leads to his game with Wildeve in which he lost all of the guineas that were supposed to be delivered directly to Thomasin and Clym. His superstitious nature allowed him to get involved in something so risky, but, despite his flaws and mistakes, Christian is basically at-peace with nature, and feels very much at home on the heath. In contrast with Clym’s ability to accommodate his life to survive the heath, his mother, Mrs. Yeobright, cannot fulfill her ananke, as she goes against her fate, and, consequently, dies. This occurs when Mrs. Yeobright’s fatal flaw is revealed; she has a bad habit of meddling into her children’s affairs. When this is combined with her ananke, which is to bare the burden of Thomasin and Clym, it leads to disaster. She, like most other heath people, disapprove of Eustacia Vye, and when she finds out that Clym is interested in her, is unhappy. One day, when she and Clym are walking on the heath, they separate; Clym heads to Mistover Knap to see Eustacia, while Mrs. Yeobright’s destination is for the Quiet Woman Inn. Mistover Knap is representative as a place for outsiders, and Mrs. Yeobright is burdened because she knows that Clym is on the wrong path. This separation to different places on the heath is also symbolic of the start of a spiritual separation between Mrs. Yeobright and Clym that will never fully be resolved. After this, Mrs. Yeobright’s meddling becomes an issue when she interferes between Thomasin and Wildeve’s marriage by plotting to give Thomasin money unbeknownst to Wildeve. This use of money, which is an unnatural substance, goes against physis, and causes sinister happenings to occur. The money causes a slew of misunderstandings and coincidences which lead to Mrs. Yeobright’s journey to Clym’s house. The “closed door incident” is too much of a burden for Mrs. Yeobright, and she is at the point of being unable to continue to fulfill her ananke. Her dying words are, “I have a burden which is more than I can bare.” This leads to the establishment of Clym’s ananke, which is to bare the burden of his mother’s death. This is quite ironic because his mother’s ananke was to bare the burden of him; in a way, they have reversed roles. Although Mrs. Yeobright could not fulfill her ananke because of her fatal flaw of meddling, because Clym holds fatalistic views and can easily adapt to new obstacles in life, he is able to continue to flourish on the heath. Contrary to Clym, Eustacia Vye held rebelled against fatalistic views. Her dream is leave the heath, which she feels she doesn’t belong in. Ironically, her ananke is to stay on the heath. This discrepancy between fate and Eustacia’s rebellion of, or misconceived notions about, her fate, are shown immediately with her introduction. When she is first incorporated into the story, she is standing on top of a high hill. Hardy decides to introduce Eustacia as being higher than nature, almost superhuman, a goddess. She is observed to be so high in the air that, “nothing that could be mapped anywhere else on the celestial globe.” It being twilight, the way the sun reflects onto the hill, Eustacia’s observer cannot distinguish where the hill ends and Eustacia begins. Hardy says that Eustacia gave the hills a “perfect, delicate, and necessary finish.” Eustacia is truly meant to be a part of nature. But, as incredible as she looks as a part of nature, she moves, and the effect on the hill is palpable: “…the discontinuance of immobility in any quarter suggested confusion… The figure perceptibly… shifted a step or two… [resulting in] displacement…” Eustacia’s movements were awkward, and disturbed the beauty of nature that she should have beautified. Her awkwardness in this scene is symbolic of her rebellion against nature and her fate. It also shows the irony of how this superhuman character who should be the goddess of nature, decides to rebel against her subjects. This introductory scene sums up Eustacia’s fatal flaw and foreshadows her conflict with the heath. Besides being a goddess of nature, there is an allusion to the “Queen of Love”, symbolic of Eustacia. There is something about Eustacia that makes men fall in love with her. As she rebels against being the goddess of nature, she also abuses her privileges of being the Queen of Love. The combination of her rebellion and abuse leads Eustacia to whatever she wants, illustrated through Wildeve, Clym, and Charley. It was destined that Wildeve would marry Thomasin. However, Eustacia could not accept this, because she wanted to prove she could be with Wildeve if she so wanted. On the night of his wedding, Eustacia sets a bonfire as a signal to him to meet her. Being the Queen of Love, naturally Wildeve cannot turn down this summoning. Besides interfering with fate, (Thomasin and Wildeve’s), she uses the bonfire, a symbol of the innocence of the heathpeople, and turns it into a sign of corruption. Even after Wildeve and Thomasin’s marriage, she stays in contact with Wildeve, and, when she gets depressed over the fact that Clym will not, or cannot, leave the heath, Eustacia falls back on Wildeve to get her out. Eustacia should never have been in contact with Wildeve after his proposal to Thomasin, because he and Thomasin are destined to be together. This refusal to accept fate leads to sneaking around, Mrs. Yeobright’s death, Thomasin’s suspicions, Clym’s anger, and, ultimately, Eustacia’s death. Just as Wildeve cannot resist helping Eustacia when she needs a favor, Charley, a young heathman, has the same problem. He is infatuated by Eustacia and will do anything for her. While Charley only holds a small part in the book, his entire role consists of helping Eustacia. When Eustacia wants to dress as a mummer to get into the Yeobright Christmas party to see Clym, Charley is more than willing to help her for the price of fifteen minutes of holding Eustacia’s hand. When his fifteen minutes are up, Charley is regretful that he used all fifteen minutes and can barely let go of Eustacia’s hand. Although Eustacia could care less about Charley, this admiration adds to her conceit that she can have any man she wants, including Clym. Later in the book, Charley sees Eustacia gazing at the guns in her grandfather’s house, contemplating suicide. At this point Eustacia has hit rock bottom, and, protectively, Charley locks up the guns in the stable. It is Charley’s love of Eustacia, and his heathfolk innocence, which keeps her alive; he doesn’t just physically prevent her potential suicide, but shows her that people still care about her. Although still depressed, Eustacia’s small rejuvenation allows her go on, but leads her to plot with Wildeve to go to Budmouth. Once again Eustacia is trying to leave the heath. When this materializes, and she is about to leave for Budmouth, she dies, because the heath cannot allow even a goddess to go against fate and break her ananke. In regards to Clym, Eustacia’s flaws included over-confidence and an abuse of her position as the Queen of Love. When Eustacia finds out that Clym is returning to the heath, she immediately knows that she will be with him. It is at this point that she hastily tells Wildeve that she will not marry him. This frees her for Clym, who she thinks will bring her to Paris, a life that she dreams of constantly. Eustacia does not have any doubts that Clym will not think twice before fulfilling her wishes, even before they have met. When they finally encounter each other, Eustacia and Clym’s fascinations are mutual. However, they are so infatuated with each other that neither of them listens to each other’s wishes, and there is unspoken hostility; Clym plans to stay on the heath and set up a school for the heathpeople, whereas Eustacia thinks that Clym is going to be her knight, and sweep her away to Paris. Eustacia is so conceited and used to everyone doing whatever she wants she believes that Clym will eventually abide by her wishes, even if they conflict with his own. But this is not what happens, as Clym is no ordinary person. Clym’s ananke becomes clear when Mrs. Yeobright dies, and he knows he must stay on the heath to bare the burden of his mother’s death. He is not as quick to yield to another’s wishes without considering his ananke, which cannot be fulfilled if he journeys abroad. Even so, Eustacia still has hopes of Paris until Clym goes blind. At this time, she realizes that they will never leave the heath, and that their marriage isn’t working out. When Eustacia hears Clym singing while working as a furze-cutter, she cannot take it anymore. Eustacia becomes crazed, and leaves Clym. Once again her conceit overwhelms her, as she feels she is better than having a furze-cutter for a husband, and feels that Clym should feel the same way. Eustacia could have lived as the goddess of nature and the Queen of Love and accepted the life that was given to her on the heath if she would have abided by her fate. But, her narcissism and pride, hybris, made Eustacia think that she was better than the people of the heath, and she viewed her surroundings with condescension. Eustacia was an extraordinary person; she was supposed to help the heath, not belittle it. When she tried to escape with Wildeve, her ananke was clearly being broken, and the result was death. Eustacia fought against the inevitable, which was one argument that even she was not above. However, Eustacia lead a life of torment as an outsider, because she held different beliefs and dreams than the average heathperson. Yet, in her death, Eustacia was happy and peaceful. The description of Eustacia’s dead body car.ries a reference to light, “…her complexion… seemed more than whiteness; it was almost light.” Her expression is described as “pleasant”, and following descriptions carry references to nature, with the words “country” and “forest”. These all hold positive connotations, and I believe that with her death, she was ironically happy, peaceful, and finally in-sync with nature. She was at last free of the dejectedness of the heath.In a story based on the greatness of nature and preaching the goodness of a simple life, Thomas Hardy’s fatalistic views can be summed up with the appropriately primitive theory of survival of the fittest. Those on the heath that followed fate and could adapt to their surroundings, (Clym, Thomasin, Christian, and the heathfolk), survived. On the reverse side, those on the heath who could not deal with traditional life, (Mrs. Yeobright, Wildeve, and Eustacia), perished, leaving room for new and potentially better citizens to occupy their places. Through Clym and Eustacia’s actions and interactions with other characters in the book, Hardy shows that he favors this view and tries to emphasize that individuals should not rebel against fate, because, as the word implies, it is inevitable. The heath will be forever; mankind is only transitory. Instead of unhappy rebellion, man should aim for the most of what life offers in one’s lifetime, and a happy, fulfilling existence will follow.