Return Of Native Essay Research Paper The

Return Of Native Essay, Research Paper

The entire opening chapter of The Return of the Native is devoted to a lengthy

description of Egdon Heath, the setting of the novel. The heath must be

significant in terms of the themes and the continue progress of the novel. The

author of the novel, Thomas Hardy, made the heath so significant to the point

that it can be look upon as a character like any other in the novel. The

heath?s constant correlation with the plot and its ?personality? even

transformed it into the major antagonist of the story. In the opening chapter

the heath is introduced just as how a major character of most novels would be

introduced with detail. In fact, the way Hardy devoted the entire first chapter

just to describe it gives it the level of importance that is over any other

characters in the book. This seems to suggest that the heath is like the

?ruler? of the story, it is the King, and it is more powerful than any

person is. The heath demonstrates the idea that fate is more powerful than the

desires of individuals. This theme can be seems throughout the novel. The

biggest effect of this theme is on Eustacia. The fact that Clym delayed sending

his letter to Eustacia, coupled with the fact that Captain Vye unwittingly kept

the letter from Eustacia until it was too late, suggests that perhaps destiny is

against her. It is under the downpour of the rain, on the rugged heath where

Eustacia laments her fate. Eustacia?s own remark, ?how destiny is against

me!? (354) and ?I have been injured and blighted and crushed by things

beyond my control!? (354) affirm the existence of such a force, the power of

fate. On Egdon Heath, night and darkness comes before its ?astronomical

hour? (11). This presents the idea of Egdon Heath?s unchangeable place in

time. This early arrival of darkness gives Egdon Heath a sense of gloom.

Dominance of darkness is clearly ominous and Hardy also says of the heath that

it could ?retard the dawn, sadden noon?and intensify the opacity of a

moonless midnight to a cause of shaking and dread? (11-12). It is also

inferred that the Heath itself creates the darkness ?the heath exhaling

darkness as rapidly as the heavens precipitated it? (12). This description of

the Heath gives it not only a human like, but in fact, a monster-like quality.

We see an image of a giant creature of darkness breathing out darkness. The

atmosphere or tone created here is verging on evilness. The Heath is as hostile

as it is gloomy. The place is ?full of a watchful intentness?for when other

things sank brooding to sleep the heath appeared slowly to awake and listen?

(12). The Heath is personified as some sort of nocturnal predator and in the

later progress of the novel, we see that the Heath is indeed hostile, perhaps

?indifferent? would be the appropriate adjective, to the characters.

Mrs.Yeobright’s journey across the Heath after being turned away by Eustacia

comes to mind. The conditions of the Heath under which Mrs.Yeobright makes her

journey is described as ?a torrid attack? (260) and ?the sun had branded

the whole heath with its mark? (260). ?Brand? suggests pain and possibly

torture and we find this is not far from the truth when Mrs.Yeobright makes her

ill-fated return journey. However, the Heath is at its most hostile and cruel in

darkness. It is in the middle of the night that the climax of the tragedy is

reached, as Eustacia commits suicide amid the ferocity of the storm. In the

opening chapter there is a forewarning of this, as we learn of the Heath that

?the storm was its lover and the wind its friend? (13). As mentioned before,

it is appropriate to describe the Heath as ‘indifferent’. There is a feeling of

helplessness that runs through the novel, as the characters fall prey to chance

or fate. The tone is ironic, because we are watching the actions of the

characters with superior knowledge. For instance, Clym’s blaming himself for his

mother’s death is ironical: he does not know the conditions responsible for it

and he is unaware that his mother did indeed call on him. It is possible to read

this helplessness and irony as a result of the Heath’s indifference to the

characters. It is also an intended theme: man lives his life in a universe that

is at least indifferent to him and may be hostile. The opening chapter is

without doubt the most significant in terms of showing this. The sub-title of

the opening chapter, ?A Face On Which Time Makes But Little Impression?,

establishes the unchangeable nature of Egdon Heath directly. The Heath is said

to be eternally waiting and ?unmoved? (12) in its ?ancient

permanence?(12). It is suggested that the Heath’s existence dates back even

into times of legend??its Titanic form? (12)–and will last until the

?final overthrow? (12), or Armageddon. Egdon Heath is as indifferent to man

as it is to time. It may even be hostile, as ?Civilization was its enemy?

(12). In its ?antique brown dress? (14) may be seen a ?satire on human

vanity in clothes? (14). Even in its indifference the Heath is mocking towards

humans. The Heath is ?inviolate? (15) and ?even the trifling

irregularities were not caused by pickaxe, plough, or spade? (15). Man cannot

change Egdon Heath for it is indifferent to man. Hardy uses Egdon Heath as a

portrayal of the larger scale of things, that is, the universe’s indifference to

man. Egdon Heath is treated as a character in the novel. It involves in everyday

lives of its inhabitant. It also has relationships with each character: some

likes it, like Clym, some wants to escape from it, like Eustacia. The

relationship of Egdon Heath to the characters greatly influenced out the plot of

the story. It is because Hardy chose to use Egdon Heath to carry out his themes.

Overall, Egdon is portrayed as a member of the novel, not just a setting. Its

participation as the role of antagonist greatly carried out The Return of the



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