Return of the Native

Love Triangles and the Complicating Factor of the Heath in The Return of the Native

In Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native, the heath is essentially treated as a character, albeit an extremely powerful one. Like the other characters, it loves possessively and without regard to the feelings of others. It competes with Ms. Yeobright and Eustacia for Clym’s affections, ultimately destroying all three of their lives.

Thomas Hardy presents the heath as a character, which lives, loves, and feels in the same ways as the other characters. He opens the novel by introducing and describing the heath, giving the reader an initial glimpse of its rugged grandeur and raw, sometimes cruel, power:

It was at present a place perfectly accordant with man’s nature - neither ghastly, hateful, nor ugly; neither commonplace, unmeaning, nor tame; but, like man, slighted and enduring; and withal singularly colossal and mysterious in its swarthy monotony. As with some persons who have long lived apart, solitude seemed to look out of its countenance. It had a lonely face, suggesting tragical possibilities. (pg 7)

The heath is an illusory character, full of dark strength and mystery. While inhabitable, it is at its core an untamable, wild place, and “Civilization [is] its enemy.” (pg 7) Though a character and susceptible to human...

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