Return of the Native

The Unreliable World in The Return of the Native

In his novel The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy creates an unreliable world of misconceptions and coincidences by paralleling the setting of Egdon Heath to reality, as perceived through human nature, to convey his theme. Throughout the novel, the characters struggle with the obscurity of life on the heath, and ultimately, their own natural flaws, which govern events surrounding them. Hardy uses kinesthetic and visual imagery, connotative diction, and parallel syntax to support the theme that due to the inconsistency and fallibility nature of human perception, no conclusive conception of reality exists.

The author stresses the ambiguity of reality through kinesthetic and visual imagery. The novel functions on the characters' individual perceptions, which cause several interpretations of reality to exist concurrently. Thus, the weather patterns and miens of the heath correspond with the ambiguous motives, blemished natures, and erratic perceptions of the characters. Hardy writes, "...the permanent moral expression of each face it was impossible to discover, for as the nimble flames towered, nodded, and swooped through the surrounding air, the blots of shade and flakes of light upon the countenances of the group...

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