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The Return of the Native: significance of the Egdon Heath

Uploaded by abhrapaul on Jul 30, 2006

The Return of the Native: significance of the Egdon Heath


“The Return of the Native” is the story of Egdon Heath. The real stuff of tragedy in this book is the primitive primal instinctive heath. The great tragic power in this book originates from the heath. Against the backdrop of dark, passionate, massive wild enormous Egdon the lesser schemes of life are drawn. The hero and the heroine-Clym and Eustacia- Mrs. Yeobright and Wildeve are the typical products of Egdon. Like Sophocles, Shakespeare and Tolstoy, Hardy places human morality against the vast canvas of non human morality of nature or Egdon.
“Egdon is a protagonist of Return of the Native”, said Walter Allen. It holds the character and action in the novel as though in the hollow of a hand. In its vastness it is indifferent to the human life upon it. Egdon is not bound by passage of time. Egdon moulds the characters of the novel. It turns somebody to hate, somebody to love and anger and again someone to rebellion. It is their attitude to Egdon which ultimately determines the destiny of human characters. It greatly influences the principal characters in the story. Eustacia, the heroine of the novel being unable to reconcile her to heath feels a deep hatred for it. The loneliness of Egdon Heath makes her miserable and her protest against Egdon brings about her tragedy. As the rustics are part of the heath and as they have reconciled themselves to the whims and changing moods of heath they hardly become tragic. Other characters of the novel react in the same way to the heath. Often their reactions serve as motivating force in the events which place in the novel. In other words the tragedy actually develops because of the characters’ attitude towards the heath. Furthermore the heath seems to reflect the moods of the characters through its appearance at a given time of day or season and through the weather. Since the heath is Hardy’s symbol for nature or fate, the characters that revolt against it must be destroyed. The characters that cannot come into terms with the heath are destroyed or met the tragic end.
The basic theme of the novel is the constant war between man and his fate. Fate is a force which man never comprehends because he cannot understand its reason for actions. In Hardy’s novel fate is symbolized by the heath-...

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Uploaded by:   abhrapaul

Date:   07/30/2006

Category:   Literature

Length:   3 pages (623 words)

Views:   1163

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