What is Hardy's philosophy of life in The Return of the Native? Why can't the main characters of Return of the Native be called "rustic characters"?

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The above commentator rightly argues about how the characters in Hardy’s novel do not have control over their lives. However, it can also be added in this regard that Hardy’s philosophy of life in The Return of can be approached from two different, but interconnected perspectives. First of all, Hardy...

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The above commentator rightly argues about how the characters in Hardy’s novel do not have control over their lives. However, it can also be added in this regard that Hardy’s philosophy of life in The Return of can be approached from two different, but interconnected perspectives. First of all, Hardy believes that characters are governed by fate. In The Return of the Native Hardy symbolises this ‘fate’ by his presentation of chance and co-incidence. On the other hand, Hardy symbolises nature through the presentation of Egdon Heath. A direct confrontation with Egdon causes tragedy. Eustacia, for example, has always hated Egdon and the end of the novel nature kills her. Hardy’s philosophy in Return of the Native, therefore, is presented in a two dimensional way. On one hand there is Hardy’s conception of fate and on the other hand there is nature, which too has been portrayed in this novel as a governing force.

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Hardy has a very pessimistic philosophy of life as can be seen in his characters who seem to have little control over their own lives.  Hardy saw external circumstances and uncontrollable internal urges as controlling human actions.  In Eustacia Vye, attributes such as her beauty which would usually be considered an asset are actually a curse to her in her surroundings. 

Hardy's characters cannot be called "rustic characters" because they lack the innocence of the rustic characters found in pastoral literature.  This type of literature idealized the rural experience making the simple peasants or shepherds of their story heros when compared to complicated urban characters.  Hardy's characters in the Return of the Native are hardly idealized, simple peasants.  They are complex humans controlled by both their surroundings and animalistic urges which cause them to make poor choices for their lives.

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