The pretty raven-haired antagonist, Eustacia Vye is clearly out of place in Egdon. Daughter to a musician from Corfu, Eustacia lives with her grandfather after moving to Egdon from Budmouth. Town gossip suggests that Eustacia may be a witch. Eustacia loves passion rather than people, and her desire for a dramatic life has fatal consequences once Clym, the "native," returns to Egdon.
A former seaman, Captain Vye lives with his granddaughter Eustacia on the heath, from which he can still see the sea. Captain Vye enjoys entertaining the locals with his embellished stories of his life at sea. Though set in his ways in terms of tradition and education, he affords Eustacia a level of freedom that ultimately allows for tragedy.
Damon Wildeve, the pub owner of the Quiet Woman Inn, is a former engineer and lady's man who has split affections for Thomasin and Eustacia. Though he shares Eustacia's contempt for the heath, he is too fickle in his passions to make significant change in his life, and that vacillation is one of the causes of ultimate tragedy.
A innocent heath girl who nevertheless learns to think pragmatically, Thomasin Yeobright goes against her aunt Mrs. Yeobright’s wishes when she marries Wildeve. She is cousin to Clym Yeobright. Thomasin eventually finds happiness with her dedicated admirer, Diggory Venn.
The protagonist of the novel, Clym Yeobright turns his back on a life in Paris to return to Egdon to become a schoolteacher. His idealistic ambitions are at odds with those around him, and his allure as a foreigner contrasted with his simple interests ultimately cause tragedy with Eustacia and his mother.
Diggory Venn, or the reddleman, is a heroic figure. Spurned by Thomsin Yeobright, he becomes an outcast, taking on the lonely role of reddleman. Forever loyal to Thomasin, he covertly guards her welfare until he emerges back into her life as a wealthy farmer and finally finds happiness as her husband.
Aunt of Thomasin and mother to Clym, she is disappointed in both of their marriage choices. Though rather particular and snobbish, she loves her family very much, and they her. She dies tragically, estranged from her son and consumed with bitterness.
A sprightly but aged local who enjoys the social events in the parish. He is grandfather to Christian Cantle.
A superstitious young man used to add comic relief in the text. Christian is asked by Mrs. Yeobright to transport her guineas to Clym and Thomasin.
One of the local labourers, Timothy Fairway cuts the men’s hair on Sundays, which provides an important social ritual and a chance for local gossip.
Mother of Johnny, Susan is a superstitious Christian who believes Eustacia Vye is a witch. She pokes her with a needle in church, and makes a wax effigy of Eustacia right before the latter dies.
A young man believed by his mother to be bewitched by Eustacia Vye. He tends Eustacia’s signal fire to Wildeve, and carries Mrs. Yeobright’s final words.
A stable boy who is obsessed with Eustacia. He allow her his role in the mummer's play, and later takes care of her after her estrangement from Clym.
The local besom maker, Olly Dowden dances with Grandfer Cantle at the November 5th bonfire, and escorts Mrs. Yeobright to meet the reddleman.
One of the furze cutters. It is Humphrey's parents whom Timothy Fairway saw had signed the marriage register just before he did.
Rachel is Thomasin's servant who loses her mistress's glove and thereby sets in motion the final pairing of Thomasin and Diggory.
The baby daughter to Thomasin and Wildeve.
Return of the Native Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Return of the Native is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Whether or not there is poetic justice in Book Five is questionable. This book is Hardy's weakest in the entire novel. We might consider Eustacia's death a form of poetic justice, but only if she did in fact fall into the weir. Knowing she had...