Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

🔅 The story is set in a fictional heath called Egdon. It's mostly about misperceptions and misplace.

🔅 Eustacia Vye was forced to live in the heath when her father moved there, though she hates it and prefers a more exciting life in a town.

🔅 When Clym Yeobright, a native of Egdon Heath, came home from Paris, where he'd been in the diamond trade, Euatacia sees a glimmer of hope. Marrying him would be her ticket of deliverance from the despicable place.

🔅 But in reality, Clym has returned for good, to open a school in Egdon. A fact that Eustacia should have realized, if she wasn't too obsessed by her dream of living in Paris.

🔅 Clym, too, should have realized Eustacia's longing, if he hadn't been focusing on his dream as a school principle. Anyhow, they both married, believing that the other must have wanted the same thing as him/her self. Misperception #1.

🔅 Egdon people - mostly illiterate - don't really like Eustacia because she's...well, different; the women even think her a witch! And so Eustasia despises them. She clearly doesn't belong there. But is it true that one can't live where one doesn't belong? How if one is forced to do so by circumstances; when one doesn't have enough resources to alter one's situation? What then? Surely one must try to make compromises. Yes, but that's only possible when one is independent enough to make the best decision for one self. Many people aren't that fortunate. Eustacia Vye, for instance, like many women in her era, can't afford that luxury.

🔅 I can well relate with Eustacia. I, too, was born in the wrong land. Tropical developing country with this crazy humidity and polution isn't for me. I despise it with all my heart! But I grew up here. My parents live here. What can I do? I compromise. I'm much more fortunate than Eustacia that, living in this era, I can be as independent as I want to.

🔅 To make it even unbearable, Mrs. Yeobright - Clym's mother - dislikes her daughter in law. She didn't even attend their holy matrimony because her son married the girl she didn't approve of. What a selfish, hypocrite mother! To be honest, I think Mrs. Yeobright is the main antagonist here, and an arrogant person who thinks herself higher and holier than others, truly deserves her tragic ending, which, by the way, is caused by a major misunderstanding.

🔅 Clym is the perfect copy of his mother. The way he treated his wife with arrogant accusation is disgusting. And it is one of the greatest ironies in literature, that all of the tragedies took place just because of one complex misunderstanding.

🔅 As usual, Hardy wrote how human's fate is influenced by Nature and circumstances. It's quite a dark novel with tragic heroine.

Rating: 4 / 5


  1. I was very curious about your comment about being born in the wrong country Fanda. Now I want to know which country you would have preferred to be born in :-)

    1. Haha... intriguing question! I have always imagined myself to be born in France. Or at least, in Europe. But Australia will do, too, so that I can meet you.. :))

  2. Hi, Fanda, it's me Ruth from Great Book Study (different name now). I'm so excited that you got to read Return of the Native, and you seemed to have liked it. This was my first Hardy, and I hated it after the first chapter. I did not want to continue reading it. But others encouraged me, and Hardy is now one of my favorite authors, besides Edith Wharton. His writing style is very natural, and whether his plots are tragic or light, I soak up his writing style. I cannot wait to reread this book again. (I'm still trying to finish up his other titles that I own, which are lesser known.) Which is/are your favorites of his so far?

    BTW, I am glad you are able to reason about your circumstances, being where you were born, especially compared to Eustacia. If you could, would you move somewhere else? I ask bc I grumble about where I live right now, and have been trying to "escape" for at least a year (but longer in my mind), and I have had to accept that maybe this is where God wants us. (And whenever I covet, I have to count all of my blessings and be grateful.) It's hard, but also freeing when I start counting. :)

    1. Hi Ruth, I'm so glad that you're back to the blogosphere! I've been wondering for months because I couldn't open your (old) blog. Will visit your new blog right away, and add it to my blog list.

      About Hardy, I've only read 3 of his, and my favorite so far is Far from a Madding Crowd. But I'm intending to read through all his books in years to come (I think I'll read Hardy and Trollope alternately - 1 book every year).

      I've imagined myself living in other countries (mostly in France :P), but I realize that moving out of one's country isn't that easy. Even if I could (found similar well-paid job), I couldn't leave my parents. There are a lot to consider, and so I never give it a thought. Dreaming is much better! ^_^

    2. I had a feeling it would be difficult to leave your parents behind. I'm struggling with that now that my parents are older and live in other states that I cannot easily get to. When they are older, you want to be there for them and be able to help them. It's all so frustrating. But it is nice to dream, and you can read books about France, and can even recreate the atmosphere in your own little place in the world. Maybe even learn to cook French food and listen to French music. :)

    3. I'm an only child and breadwinner in my family, so leaving my parents is out of question :) Moreover, I have reached a phase where I need peace and calm. Moving out would cause a lot of changes.

      You're right, my only consolation is to recreate the atmosphere. Starting last July I'm starting a habit of reading books about France every year (for Paris in July). I also watch more French movies, and am compiling a French music playlist. And when I'm bored at work, I even create an imaginary itinerary to Paris - visiting one arrondissement each day :))


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