Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset, England, on June 2, 1840. Although he attended several grammar schools and studied French at King’s College London, Hardy had little formal education. Later, however, he read extensively in the Bible, the classics, and recent scientific publications. He was an architect’s apprentice from 1856 to 1874 and later an ecclesiastical architect. During this time, he wrote poetry, which was not published until after he was a well-known novelist. His first novel, Desperate Remedies, was published in 1871. In 1872, he married Emma Gifford; after her death in 1912, he married Florence Dugdale. When storms of protest arose over the pessimism and the violation of strict Victorian sexual mores in his novels Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895), Hardy gave up writing long fiction but continued to write poetry. He died on January 11, 1928, and his ashes were placed in the Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey. Among his best works are Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) and The Return of the Native.
In The Return of the Native, there is a strong conflict between nature or fate, represented by Egdon Heath, and human nature, represented by the characters in the novel, especially Eustacia. The title of the first chapter, “A Face on Which Time Makes but Little Impression,” establishes the heath’s role as much more significant than merely a setting for the...
(The entire section is 1096 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Return of the Native Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!