Clement Yeobright, called Clym, a native of Egdon Heath who returns to visit with his mother and cousin after having made a career for himself as a successful diamond merchant in Paris. His success and his education make him an outstanding figure among the humble people who live scattered about the wild heath, and his return for a visit is a great occasion for them. During his stay, he decides to remain, finding that the heath and its people mean far more to him than worldly success in Paris; his intention is to become a teacher and open a school to educate the people among whom he grew up, a superstitious and ignorant, if lovable and kindly, set. A sensitive and somewhat rash young man, he falls in love with Eustacia Vye, a beautiful and passionate woman. In her, Clym sees a perfect helpmeet for a schoolmaster, but she sees in him only a chance to escape the heath and to live abroad. Clym and Eustacia Vye are married, over the protests of his mother. These protests arouse the anger of Clym, who after his marriage does not communicate with her. Disaster, in the form of partial blindness, strikes Clym, but he accepts his plight philosophically and turns to the homely task of furze-cutting to earn a living. Unhappy in her lot, Eustacia turns against him. On one occasion, she refuses to let his mother into the house, an inhospitable act that indirectly causes the death of the older woman. Stricken by his mother’s death and, a short time later, by his wife’s suicide, Clym becomes a lay preacher to the people of the heath.
Eustacia Vye, the self-seeking and sensuous young woman who marries Clym Yeobright. Unhappy on the heath, bored by life with her grandfather, she tries to escape. First she seeks an opportunity to do so by marrying Clym. When he cannot and will not leave the heath, she turns to a former fiancé, now a married man. At the last, however, she cannot demean herself by unfaithfulness to her husband; instead of running away with her lover, she commits suicide by plunging into a millpond.
Damon Wildeve, a former engineer, still a young man, who settles unhappily upon the heath as keeper of the Quiet Woman Inn. Selfish and uninspired, when he loses Eustacia Vye to...
(The entire section is 939 words.)