Return of the Native

Love and Modernity: Analysis of Relationships in The Return of the Native

The Victorian novel often focuses on prominent, relevant issues of the time during which it is written. These issues can range from class, ambition, and gender to love, sexuality, and desire. Authors of the Victorian era delivered insight on these often controversial topics through the characters in their novels. Because of the prevalence of these issues in the Victorian novel, authors often have overlapping views and insights. However, in Thomas Hardy's novel The Return of the Native, Hardy delivers his views on desire and romantic love with a unique spin. Hardy explores the ideas of desire for social status and possession versus romantic desire through the various relationships in the novel; in doing so, he examines the implications of modernity within these relationships.

There are a number of significant couplings within The Return of the Native. The most obvious of these are Eustacia and Clym, Eustacia and Wildeve, and Thomasin and Diggory Venn. The first, Eustacia and Clym, offers a clear depiction of a marriage that is motivated by desire for social achievement. When Eustacia hears of Clym's return from Paris, she immediately romanticizes her image of him, picturing him as a wealthy man of the world who has the...

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