Return of the Native

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...

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