Personal Goals Influencing Marriage In The Return

Of The Native Essay, Research Paper

Personal Goals Influencing Marriage in the Return of the Native

When one thinks of marriage, images of happiness, faithfulness, and unconditional love come to mind. Marriages are not for allowing two lovers to accomplish personal goals, but rather for faithful companions to live the rest of their lives together. In The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy presents the reader with two pairs of lovers that marry to accomplish personal goals, not because of a mutual love and a desire to obtain a lifelong soul mate. Hardy reveals the true motives governing the participants in the novels marriage alliances: Eustacia, Clym, Thomasin, and Wildeve marry to carry out their individual plans for the future, rather than for love of one another.

Eustacia Vye is a lazy, self-absorbed, cunning diva whose desire to marry Clym Yeobright is based on her vision of a extravagant life in Paris with her prized husband. It is the news that Clym is from Paris that generates Eustacia’s vision of pomp and glamour. She gets so infatuated with her vision of what Clym Yeobright is, that before she even meets him, she has a dream of the two dancing the night away. There is further evidence of Eustacia’s fascination with Parisian life. When Eustacia and

Clym meet while trying to fetch the water bucket from the well, there is mention of the boulevards of Paris, and this piques Eustacia’s interest. Clym recognizes her interest in the city by saying, “I remember when I had the same longing for town bustle. Five years of a great city would be a perfect cure for that.” (Page 191). Eustacia responds, “Heavens send me such a cure!” (Page 191). Finally, when the love between Eustacia and Clym blossoms, Clym proposes to Eustacia, and Eustacia’s response is, “I must think. At present speak of Paris to me. Is there any place like it on Earth?” (Page 201). A bewildered Clym answers “It is very beautiful. But will you be mine?”. Eustacia then asks even more questions about Paris, such as, “Now tell me of the Tuileries, and the Louvre.” (Page201). Frustrated with the lack of a solid answer from Eustacia, Clym cries “I hate talking of Paris!”, but this does not stop Eustacia’s constant flow of questions about the city. This is definitely not the expected response to a proposal of marriage, and further evidences that Eustacia is more interested in a possible life in Paris than the love of Clym Yeobright.

Clym Yeobright also is interested in marriage to help carryout his own personal goals in life. Before the two meet face to face, without the mummer costume, Clym is introduced to Eustacia by Sam the turf-cutter. Sam reports to Clym that Eustacia is “a handsome girl” (Page 183) and that Clym ought to check her out. Clym’s first response to this is, “Do you think she would like to teach children?” (Page 183). This brief passage shows that when presented with the opportunity to marry, Clym first thinks about the possibility that she would be willing to help him in his desire to run a school. As the relationship between the two progresses, Clym talks to his mother about his intent to marry Eustacia. Naturally, Mrs. Yeobright objects. The first words of defense to come out of Clym’s mouth are, “She is excellently educated, and would make a good matron in a boarding school…I can establish a good private school…by the assistance of a wife like her.”(Page 196-197) This is evidence that Clym is thinking of the possible uses of Eustacia helping him run a school for the Heath folk. A final bit of evidence that Clym is not entering into the marriage for love is presented, “Yeobright began to perceive what a strait he was in. Sometimes he wished that he had never known Eustacia…antagonistic growths had to be kept alive…Eustacia’s happiness.” (Page 204-205) This sad passage points out that Clym regretted his hurried proposal of Eustacia and is now living with the consequences. He does not want to bear the disgrace of abandoning Eustacia and the scorn of his mother, so he decides to carry on the planed marriage and live with the consequences.

Thomasin Yeobright’s motive to marry Wildeve is because it is “practical”. Grief-stricken over the failure of their first attempt to marry, Thomasin is left to wonder wether or not Wildeve

will come and try to claim her again. During this time,

Thomasin’s love of Wildeve wanes. By the time Wildeve

returns to Thomasin to set a new wedding date, Thomasin is

no longer interested in the marriage for love’s sake. She is

now only interested in getting a husband to help support her.

She has abandoned the idea that love should be the a factor

for marriage. Her views are best stated when she tells Mrs.

Yeobright, “I am a practical woman now. I don’t believe in

hearts at all. I would marry him under any circumstances since

Clym’s letter.” (Page 161). Further influencing the idea that a

marriage to Wildeve would be practical is a letter that Clym

Yeobright has sent to Blooms End. The letter states that Clym

is most upset over the “silly stories” that have been circulating

throughout the Heath of the couple’s failed attempt to marry.

He does not believe the reports, and Thomasin would like it

that way. If Thomasin and Wildeve marry before Clym returns

from his visit to a friend, she can say that the rumors are

false, and Clym will never the true story of Thomasin and

Wildeve. Thomasin feels that this will also spare Clym the

grief and embarrassment of finding out that the stories are

true. Thomaisn enforces this view when she states, “I have

felt that I acted unfairly to him in not telling him all; but, as it

was done not to grieve him, I thought I could carry out the

plan to its end, and tell the whole story when the sky was

clear.” (Page 164). Damon Wildeve is a deceitful and

vengeful character who’s purpose of marrying Thomasin

Yeobright is to carry out his own type of personal revenge

against Eustacia Vye for breaking off their affair. The news is

too much for the proud Wildeve, his feelings are best

described when the author states that, “He could only

decently save himself by Thomasin; and once he became her

husband, Eustacia’s repentance, he thought, would set in for

a long and bitter term.” (Page 159). So, Wildeve carries out

his devious plan. At the wedding, Eustacia is present to

witness the marriage. Feeling that this would be the best time

to make Eustacia feel regret, Wildeve, while Thomasin is

saying the “I Do’s”, glances at Eustacia with a glance that

said plainly, “I have punished you now.” (Page 169). The

personal motives surrounding the marriages of characters in

the novel reveal the self-centered tendencies of humans.

None of the characters chose love as the deciding factor over

want in their marriage. This is a sad but all to common

occurrence today, and a reason why we have such a high

divorce rate. I’m sure that if divorce was more socially

acceptable in the days of The Return of the Native, that the

characters would regret their decisions, and be separated in a

matter of months.


Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy


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