illustration of Eustacia standing in the forest

The Return of the Native

by Thomas Hardy
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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 939

Clement Yeobright

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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

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

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 Clym Yeobright, he marries Thomasin Yeobright, Clym’s cousin, out of spite. The marriage is an unhappy one, for Wildeve still pursues Eustacia, who is also unhappy because her husband cannot give her the life she wishes. Wildeve’s pursuit of illicit love ends in his own death, for he drowns while trying to save Eustacia’s life after she throws herself into a pond rather than elope to Paris as his mistress.

Thomasin Yeobright

Thomasin Yeobright, called Tamsin, Clym’s cousin, reared with Clym by his mother. A simple and faithful girl who loves Damon Wildeve despite his treatment of her, she is also faithful to the conventions and clings to her marriage even after it turns out badly. At her husband’s death, she inherits a small fortune left by his uncle shortly before Wildeve’s end. She finds happiness eventually in a second marriage and in her little daughter.

Diggory Venn

Diggory Venn, an itinerant young reddleman in love with Thomasin Yeobright. Once of good family and some little fortune, he has fallen upon evil days. His lonely existence gives him opportunity to act in his love’s behalf, and he tries to circumvent Wildeve’s pursuit of Eustacia Vye. Having saved up a little money, he becomes a dairyman and presents himself, after a decent time, as Thomasin’s suitor, following her husband’s death. His patience, love, and understanding are rewarded when she accepts him.

Mrs. Yeobright

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Mrs. Yeobright, Clym Yeobright’s mother and Thomasin Yeobright’s aunt. In her good sense, she opposes both their marriages, although the young people misinterpret her motives as selfish. Being of a forgiving nature, she tries to be reconciled with her son and his wife, as she became with Thomasin and her husband. Yet Eustacia refuses her overtures and is indirectly the cause of the older woman’s death; Mrs. Yeobright dies of exposure and snakebite after having been refused admittance to her son’s home.

Captain Vye

Captain Vye, Eustacia Vye’s grandfather, a retired seaman who brings his granddaughter to live on the heath with no thought of how such a place will affect her. He is a self-contained old man with little knowledge of the intense personality of his charge; therefore, he makes no effort to prevent her tragedy.

Johnny Nunsuch

Johnny Nunsuch, a little boy who plays upon the heath and unwittingly becomes involved as a witness to the fate of the Yeobrights, Eustacia Vye, and Damon Wildeve. His testimony concerning Mrs. Yeobright’s last words brings about the separation of Clym Yeobright and his wife.

Mrs. Nunsuch

Mrs. Nunsuch, Johnny’s mother. Convinced that Eustacia Vye is a witch who has cast a spell upon the child, Mrs. Nunsuch, an uneducated, superstitious woman, resorts to black arts to exorcise the spell. On the night of Eustacia Vye’s death, she forms a doll in the girl’s image and destroys it in a fire.

Granfer Cantle

Granfer Cantle, an ancient,

Christian Cantle

Christian Cantle, his elderly youngest son,

Olly Dowden

Olly Dowden,

Sam

Sam, a turf-cutter,

Humphrey

Humphrey, a furze-cutter, and

Timothy Fairway

Timothy Fairway, residents of Egdon Heath. They voice much of the rural wisdom and observe the folk customs of the region.

Characters

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Hardy's philosophy of human character as it is articulated in this novel, is a theory of behavior somewhat atypical of this writer's practice. Moreover, the characterization of several representatives of the peasant class exemplifies Hardy's view of traditional, rural culture. Much can be gleaned from an analysis of the three principal female characters and that most enigmatic presence in all of Hardy's work, the reddleman-turned dairyman Diggory Venn.

Mrs. Yeobright and her niece constitute a thesis-antithesis pairing of Victorian propriety. Hardy portrays Mrs. Yeobright as an arrogant, imperious figure who assumes deference to her wishes from everyone. Whether this assumption derives from her social position, as a reasonably wealthy woman in a backward rural community, or from innate pride, she comes across to the modern reader as a stiff, proud micromanager of her son's and niece's adulthood. Readers will recall that even before the narrative proper begins, she creates a scandal by publicly opposing Thomasin's wedding when the banns are read in church. Her doing so becomes a standing joke among the peasants of Egdon Heath. Although Thomasin has no other suitor, and although she is infatuated with Wildeve, her aunt imposes her will on the niece's future happiness, then interprets Wildeve's subsequent act of forgetting the marriage license as a deliberate insult to her family. Openly disappointed by Clym's decision to teach, she reacts even more adversely to his courtship of and commitment to marry Eustacia Vye, in part because Captain Vye is "beneath" the Yeobright family and in part because, one suspects, Mrs. Yeobright intuits the dark passion and independence Eustacia represents. Affronted by what she sees as defiance by her son and niece, she tells Venn, who tries to intercede on Thomasin's behalf: "She and my son disobeyed me in marrying; therefore I have no interest in their households. Their troubles are their own making." Hardy quickly adds that Mrs. Yeobright may be striking a pose for Venn. She is feeling compassion for her son, but she dismisses Thomasin cruelly: "I never expected much from her; and she has not disappointed me." Although pride is usually the "sin" that leads to a tragic hero's downfall, it usually manifests itself in less petty forms: rage against fate, disobedience of social or moral law, but hardly resentment that a descendant resists micromanagement. Although King Lear's pride first manifests itself in precisely this form, it is the sign of a deeper, more profound kind of hubris that propels Lear toward insanity and death. In Mrs. Yeobright's case, the pride does not transcend pettiness and arrogance, and her death, while sad, is hardly tragic, in part because she is still petty even in death. She has failed to learn anything about herself or the human condition through her suffering. Biographer Michael Millgate states that Hardy based this character on his own mother; if this is true, it is not a flattering portrait.

By contrast, Thomasin exemplifies the docile, submissive Victorian heroine from popular romance as well as serious literature. She blindly adores a man whom Hardy describes as demonstrably unworthy of her, all the while insensible of the attentions of one who genuinely does love her, the reddleman; perhaps her insensibility about Venn's adoration stems from the caste systems of Victorian society. Even as it becomes obvious that Wildeve has not overcome his initial attraction toward Eustacia, Thomasin blindly holds to her affection for him and in one case lies to Venn to protect her husband. Her only flashes of independence are her determination to marry Wildeve despite her aunt's objection (but only after Mrs. Yeobright has accepted the inevitable), and her decision as a wealthy widow to marry Venn in spite of Clym's warnings about his lack of social status.

A complete contrast to Thomasin's docility and by far the most interesting character in The Return of the Native is its heroine, Eustacia Vye. Her evolution in Hardy's conception of her is itself an indication of the growth he was undergoing as an artist at this time. Readers who have once encountered the book will be unlikely to forget her mysterious, dark, restless, brooding presence as she stands alone on a Celtic barrow, lighted by a Guy Fawkes bonfire, gazing restlessly through a telescope over the heath she has come to regard as her prison. She is the first of Hardy's great series of mysterious, impassioned female heroines, a series that would eventually include Sue Bridehead (Jude the Obscure) and Tess Durbeyfield (Tess of the d'Urbervilles). The creation of three such powerful, enigmatic women is a lifetime achievement any novelist would envy. In many ways Eustacia is the most enigmatic and memorable of the group.

This character's compelling power over us paradoxically traces to her origins in folklore and Hardy's tinkering with those conventions to humanize his initial enchantress figure, who recalls poet John Keats's "La Belle Dame Sans Merci." Scholars John Patterson and A. Walton Litz agree that the character originates in the "demonic" figures of eighteenth- and nineteenth century British novels and folk ballads. Patterson holds that the inspiration for the narrative was a ballad-like story of a ruined maid and her demonic adversary. In the process of creating Eustacia, Hardy focused on her seductive, enchanting presence and endowed her with certain qualities of the archetypal and folkloric witch-figure, some of which persist in his subsequent texts. The peasant Timothy remarks on her solitary vigil by the bonfire in chapter V, "that lonesome dark-eyed creature up there that some say is a witch"; moreover, Susan Nunsuch jabs Vye in church to prove she is a witch, then herself practices sorcery on an effigy of Eustacia she creates. Wildeve feels compelled to come to Eustacia's signal, and this compulsion repeated a year later leads to the catastrophe. Finally, Vye compares her own power to charm Wildeve with the power the Biblical Witch of Endor exerted over Samuel.

Litz, Patterson, and most of Hardy's biographers agree that the most important of several transformations that occurred between the 1878 serial version of the novel, the 1895 edition of the novel, and the 1912 "Wessex" edition was a steady shift in the characterization of Eustacia, from the folkloric enchantress to the troubled, vital, passionate woman with an insatiable hunger for sophistication and meaning in her own life. As Litz persuasively argues, she becomes less "Byronic" and more human as Hardy went through the major revisions of the text, but the proximity to fire throughout the narrative continues to conjure associations with the classical tragic figure Prometheus. Even closer to Hardy's text, however, is the tradition of nineteenth-century passionate, tragic, hungry women who manipulate and use others—often the men whom they mesmerize with their beauty and charm—to seek the lives they desire: Gustav Flaubert's Emma in Madame Bovary and William Makepeace Thackeray's Becky Sharpe in Vanity Fair.

In many ways Eustacia's passion for life is the most unforgettable fact about this novel. After her marriage to Clym has broken up, she sees becoming Wildeve's mistress in order to escape the heath and her unhappy marriage, as a "humiliation" dictated by her poverty; therefore, she is more self-aware than any other female character in the book, and probably more self-aware than Clym as well. Wrestling with the decision to fly with Wildeve, she realizes that he is not "great enough for me to give myself to" [emphasis Hardy's]. Earlier, when Wildeve commiserates on the decline of their marriages, Eustacia realizes she wants "unreasonably much" from her life and her marriage. Her self-aware, unreasonable desire for an exciting life is thus the antithesis to Clym's prosaic, if noble, wish to return home and educate the youth of the heath. Their marriage is truly a meeting of opposites. Moreover, her passion for a richer life is the antithesis of both Mrs. Yeobright and Thomasin, who in differing ways represent a parochial loyalty to their homelands, but not one that reflects a philosophical consideration of the virtue of such loyalty.

As he completed the composition of the novel through three major revisions, Hardy emphasized the human mystery of Eustacia, rather than the enchantress. While her hold over three men (Wildeve, Clym, and Charley) in itself manifests her enchanting and manipulative powers, Hardy comes to think of her as an "Olympian girl" rather than a witch, and the novel is much the better for this change. His omniscient narrator describes her as a "proud, fair woman" while she struggles with the realization that Clym can find happiness in his reduced circumstance as a furze-cutter and has no lofty social ambitions in comparison with her own. Hardy's most revealing description of his heroine, however, reminds us of her ruthlessness as well as of her social sophistication: "As far as social ethics were concerned, Eustacia approached the savage state, though in emotion she was all the while an epicure." There is something fine and something ruthless in her composition.

In her final moments, Eustacia comes across as a desperate but highly self-aware character. She realizes that escaping with Wildeve is hardly the answer to her hopes and ambitions. But she has suffered bitter disappointment at having won Clym only to see her hopes for a better life dashed by his humanitarian goals, and her marriage has been destroyed, as she believes, because her husband blames her for his mother's death. Together, this leads her to the reckless, desperate gamble that will cost her and Wildeve their lives. Embittered by her fate, she laments that she has tried so very hard to become a "splendid woman," only to be frustrated at every turn. She believes she is the victim of some malevolent fate, but as readers we feel that she is quite aware of the stakes in the game she is playing. The slim hope for a better life at Budmouth as opposed to life as a spurned wife on the heath seems, to her, worth the gamble of death in the attempt to get there.

Eustacia remains one of Hardy's most intriguing characters, one of great passion and despair. Her nemesis, really, is a nearly equally enigmatic figure, the "reddleman" Diggory Venn. Originally intended as a choric figure of sorts, Venn becomes involved in the narrative as a man so in love with Thomasin that he acts to protect her in her marriage with Wildeve and subsequently. Thus Venn has three functions central to the novel: his conduct is the ideal definition of romantic love; he is a link to the agrarian past that is rapidly dying out; and he has a semi divine instinct for interdiction at the appropriate moment to avoid the worst possible twists of fate. This last characteristic links him with magic, mystery, and good luck, a phenomenon that is rare in this novel.

In the "Aftercourses" section, we learn that Venn is quite capable of making the transition from traditional British agricultural life to modern agri-business. He has given up "reddling," has purchased a series of dairy farms, and has launched a promising enterprise. The point is that his life as a reddleman is in part one of choice, not of necessity. Unlike several of the characters in the novel, he has options. Until Wildeve dies, he chooses to remain a reddleman, with the attendant social marginalization—his handling ochre for sheep care has permeated not only his clothing, but his skin as well; early in Book 1, Johnny Nunsuch fears Venn as a "bogey" who carries off peasant boys, and Michael Fairway at a peasant dance takes the reddish man as "the devil" or the "red ghost." Venn's choice to stay in the reddling business is Hardy's most explicit link with a vanishing culture. By implication certain virtues specific to that culture are sustained in this survivor: honesty, love for the land and its inhabitants, constancy, and other directedness. Like William Faulkner's sewing- machine salesman V. K. Ratliff in The Hamlet (1940), The Town (1957), and The Mansion (1959), Venn represents, in Hardy's system of symbols, a constant in a changing world, a man whose very ethics derive from his commitment to the traditional values of agricultural England. The narrator laments a lost "poetry of existence" that Hardy associates with a "class rapidly becoming extinct in Wessex," a "nearly perished link between obsolete forms of life and those which generally prevail." Hardy frequently applauds Venn's virtue, which the narrator summarizes by calling him "an agreeable specimen of rustic manhood."

After his odd complexion and his role as representative of the "old" virtues of a vanishing England, Venn's almost magical character in the novel represents one of Hardy's few efforts at plot manipulation. While Chance regularly interferes in the most ominous way possible in the characters' plans, Venn has an amazing skill for showing up at the most opportune moment. The book opens with his bringing a disgraced Thomasin home from the aborted elopement, to which Wildeve conveniently or stupidly brought an invalid marriage license. This scene introduces two key patterns in which Venn figures: he intervenes to help Thomasin on many occasions, once perhaps saving her life during the storm that contributes to Eustacia's and Wildeve's drownings, and his presence is often providential.

His most obvious fortunate intervention occurs while Christian Cantle is losing Clym's and Thomasin's inheritance to Wildeve. By good luck, Venn oversees the gambling and by good skill he bests Wildeve, a scene in which Hardy somewhat heavy-handedly contrasts the rivals for Thomasin's heart. Wildeve acts "like a madman ... reckless, frantic, exasperated," whereas Venn remains unperturbed, "impassive," a "red automaton," winning calmly and systematically while Wildeve gets so ridiculous that he bites one of the dice in two. Despite the good fortune of preventing Wildeve from keeping the legacy he won from Cantle, Venn, acting in ignorance, compounds the ill will on the heath by giving the entire amount to Thomasin.

Aside from his choric role as overseer, and his symbolic role as throwback to older virtues, Venn functions in the novel as an ideal lover as well. In fact, he can be said to serve as Hardy's definition of love in the self-centered world the novel creates. We have seen that Eustacia's love for Clym and for Wildeve is self-serving; each is adored in relation to his being able to fashion her escape from an oppressive environment. Even Clym, the hero, can be called self-centered as a lover in that it never occurs to him that Eustacia will not adapt happily to the noble schoolmistress role he has in mind for her, nor does he really take seriously her social ambition to go to a fashionable city, but rather assumes that as the intellectual and husband, he should make all the decisions that matter. By contrast, Venn seeks Thomasin's hand in the traditional way, asking Mrs. Yeobright directly for permission to court her niece. She uses his proposal to force Wildeve's hand because she believes the botched elopement has stained Thomasin's name irrevocably, so that only marriage to this person Mrs. Yeobright despises will salvage the family's honor. For the rest of the novel, Venn adopts the noblest lover's role by acting consistently to keep Thomasin and Wildeve's marriage from falling apart. Sensing correctly that Wildeve has not outgrown his fondness for Eustacia, Venn offers to help the unhappy woman get a position with a wealthy acquaintance in Budmouth. She finds his definition of love affecting, but ultimately preposterous. When he tells her that although he would prefer to marry Thomasin, if he cannot do so he will do all he can to assure her happiness with his rival, Eustacia has an insight that casts brilliant light on the notion of love as it affects both of Hardy's polar characters: "What a strange sort of love, to be entirely free of that ... selfishness which is frequently the chief constituent of the passion." Moving from the representation of Vye's thoughts to judgment of them, the omniscient narrator coyly remarks that the "reddleman's disinterestedness was so well deserving of respect that it overshot respect by being barely comprehended; and she almost thought it absurd."

Of course, Venn's love is anything but "absurd." His consistency in acting on behalf of Thomasin's happiness is Hardy's representation of traditional, ennobling love. He intercedes with Mrs. Yeobright as Thomasin's marriage deteriorates, and resorts to pranks like preparing a snare to trip Wildeve on the pathway and employs the threat of violence, shooting a rifle in order to discourage Wildeve from moving back into Eustacia's circle of enchantment. It is possible that Venn's efforts to frighten Wildeve worked so very well as to bring about the catastrophe; frightened by the increasing threat of violence, Wildeve may be motivated to flee with Eustacia to escape the madman who is haunting his every move and has moved from tripping and striking to shooting. Even if this were true,

Venn as a character cannot be held responsible for decisions Wildeve makes in response to Venn's effort to keep the woman he loves married to another man.

Venn serves one more critical role for Hardy, that of a moderately disinterested commentator on the angst of the Yeobright family. It is he who offers Clym the grain of peace he needs to get on with his life after his mother's horrid death. With a simple "Yet I know she quite forgave ee," Venn lays the basis for Clym's agonizing process of learning how to forgive himself. Further, it is he who saves Clym from drowning in the pool in which Eustacia and Wildeve die, as Wildeve symbolically pulls Clym down even in death by wrapping his arms around the living man's legs. Similarly, after the disaster, Venn places a traditional memento mori construction on the impassioned struggles of Eustacia and Wildeve, while acting in the interests of the widow he loves so much. It is his virtue that casts a hopeful note in an otherwise solemn cast of characters; yet many readers feel that as a character, rather than as a symbol, he is less alive and memorable than the impassioned woman whose life and death give the novel its haunting effect.

In the "Aftercourses" section, Venn reappears on the Egdon scene as a changed man; because he has given up reddling and taken up dairy farming, he has discarded his old work clothes and his skin has lost its traces of ochre. Hardy's little joke is that, when Thomasin first sees the new Venn, she thinks he is "the ghost of yourself." Now as a prosperous rural businessman, Venn also acts out as a bucolic version of the Elizabethan ideal lover, playing a game with a glove at the maypole to tell Thomasin he still wants to marry her. Their marriage constitutes the "happy ending" of the novel, the traditional version of virtue rewarded. The problem is that Hardy did not like the ending any more than most modern readers do.

Characters

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Christian Cantle
Christian is a shy, ineffectual young man, nervous around women. Entrusted to go to Clym’s house on his wedding day and deliver a gift—one hundred guineas that are to be divided between Clym and Thomasin—Christian loses the money to Wildeve in a game of dice.

Grandfer Cantle
Grandfer (a title that is local dialect for “Grandfather”) represents the lively spirit of the simple country people. At almost seventy, he is eager to dance, sing, joke, and tell exaggerated stories.

Charley
Charley is a local man who cares for Eustacia. After Eustacia has argued with Clym and gone back to her grandfather’s house, Charley takes care of her. He makes a fire for her and feeds her, and when he sees that she has looked too long and sorrowfully at the pistols, he sneaks through a window and takes them away to hide them.

Olly Dowden
A local woman, Olly is a besom maker. Wildeve takes a bottle of wine to her sick husband one night, using the visit as an excuse when he goes to see Eustacia.

Humphrey
Humphrey is a furze-cutter. When Clym decides to go into the business of cutting furze, he borrows Humphrey’s old equipment.

Johnny Nunsuch
Johnny is a young boy who lives near Captain stacia pays him to tend the bonfire that she uses to signal Wildeve. He sees Wildeve talking to Eustacia and tells Venn about it. Johnny later walks with Mrs. Yeobright after she leaves Clym’s cottage at Alderworth.

Susan Nunsuch
Susan is Johnny’s mother. A superstitious woman, she believes that Eustacia is a witch and blames her for her children’s illnesses.

Diggory Venn
Venn is a local man that has been in love with Thomasin since childhood. As such, he frequently works behind the scenes to protect her and assure her happiness. He is called the “reddleman” because he deals in reddle, a dye used by sheep farmers; as a result of handling it, his clothes, skin, and everything he owns are dyed red, giving him a devilish look. It is Venn who brings Thomasin back to town after her marriage to Wildeve is delayed. When he finds out that Wildeve has been seeing Eustacia, Venn pressures him to marry Thomasin; though it means he cannot have Thomasin for himself, it would be the best thing for her reputation. Moreover, he offers to arrange a job for Eustacia so that Wildeve will go back to Thomasin and make her happy.

After Wildeve wins the money that Christian was supposed to deliver to Clym and Thomasin, Venn wins it back and gives it to Thomasin. When Wildeve has run off with Eustacia, Venn helps Thomasin find them. It is Venn who saves Clym’s life by pulling him out of the water. When he has saved up enough money, Diggory Venn quits the reddle business and buys a dairy farm. Eventually he proposes to Thomasin and they marry.

Captain Vye
Captain Vye is Eustacia’s grandfather.

Eustacia Vye
Eustacia is local woman and one of the major characters of the novel. She is exotic, beautiful, ambitious, and eager to leave Egdon Heath. Much of the action in this story revolves around the fact that men find Eustacia so unnaturally attractive that there are even rumors of her being a witch. Born and raised in the seaside resort of Budmouth, Eustacia’s father was a musician from the island of Corfu, in the Ionian Sea. Eustacia was educated and raised in a cosmopolitan environment, but after her parents died her grandfather brought her to Egdon Heath.

She is forced to find the excitement she craves in her relationships with men. She has an affair with Wildeve, but cuts it off after he breaks his engagement to Thomasin. She falls in love with Clym before meeting him, almost solely on the fact that he had a successful career in Paris. While courting, Clym is adamant about the fact that he plans to stay in the country and open a small school, but Eustacia believes she can change his mind later. When Clym takes a job cutting furze, Eustacia resents him.

Soon after Eustacia marries, Wildeve inherits a fortune. Eustacia feels she has married the wrong man. This feeling intensifies when Clym accuses her of causing his mother’s death. Wildeve offers to take her away, but Eustacia insists on remaining faithful to her wedding vows. She does accept a ride to the port town. Tragically, she drowns in the reservoir, and there is a question whether her death might have been a suicide.

Damon Wildeve
Wildeve is a wild young man. Engaged to Thomasin, he has a long-standing affair with Eustacia. In fact, he decides to drop Thomasin for Eustacia; instead, Eustacia breaks off their affair and he marries Thomasin. Not surprisingly, he isn’t a very good husband. Just as Eustacia is feeling that her marriage to Clym is boring and difficult, Wildeve inherits a fortune; they meet at a dance and find each other exciting all over again. When she separates from Clym, Wildeve offers Eustacia anything that his money can offer, but she declines. At the end of the novel, he drowns in the reservoir trying to save her.

Clemson Yeobright
The “native” of the novel’s title, Clemson (also known as Clym) is a local boy who has returned to Egdon Heath after a successful career in Paris. He is sick of city life, and looks forward to starting a local school. Not long after he returns, he meets Eustacia and marries her. He thinks that Eustacia supports his plan to start a school, and is shocked when he realizes that she doesn’t. While studying to be a teacher, Clym damages his eyes. Because he cannot read until they heal, he takes a job cutting furze, which is what most of the local men do for a living.

After his mother’s death, he feels guilty and blames himself. When he finds out that Eustacia did not let his mother in the house because she was talking with Wildeve, he accuses his wife of having an affair and blames her for his mother’s death. After Eustacia’s death, he lives with Thomasin and considers marrying her. When he realizes that she will be happy married to Diggory Venn, Clym becomes an open-air preacher and becomes famous by talking to the field workers in language that they understand.

Clym Yeobright
See Clemson Yeobright

Mrs. Yeobright
Clym’s mother, Mrs. Yeobright, represents conventional Victorian values in the novel. For example, when Wildeve postpones the marriage, she feels that Thomasin’s honor is at stake; to save her niece’s reputation, she pressures Wildeve to fulfill his commitment. Mrs. Yeobright also objects to her son Clym marrying Eustacia, considering the young woman a “bad girl.” She does not attend their wedding, but gives him his inheritance as a present. When she receives no thanks for it, she reaches the conclusion that Wildeve gave the money to Eustacia. When Eustacia denies knowing anything about it, the two women have a fight.

To reconcile with her son, Mrs. Yeobright travels to Clym’s house, but by mistake, no one lets her in. Mrs. Yeobright walks home feeling that she has been turned away, and on the way a snake bites her. Clym finds her on the path that night, dying.

Thomasin Yeobright
Thomasin is Clym Yeobright’s cousin. She is in love with the charismatic Wildeve and is disappointed when he puts off their marriage. She considers marrying Diggory Venn, the reddleman who is in love with her. Yet she takes his devotion for granted and is still attracted to Wildeve. Eventually she does marry Wildeve, but their union is not a happy one. After her husband dies, she marries Diggory Venn, who has become a wealthy dairy farmer.

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