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The Return of the Native

The Return of the Native

by Thomas Hardy

Love Theme

Romance in The Return of the Native is often not all that romantic or even nice. Love, for the bulk of the cast, is extremely painful. In fact, love is a fantasy for many of these characters. Characters fall in love based on their romanticized vision of another person, not on reality. And when reality comes crashing down, it's not pretty. Eustacia is blinded by her longing for Paris when she falls for Clym, while Clym blinds himself to Eustacia's real personality and desires. Meanwhile, both Damon and Eustacia seem bored by the idea of happy, conflict-free love. They clearly agree with Shakespeare's thoughts on how "the course of true love never did run smooth."

Questions About Love

  1. We see a lot of cases where people in love are blinded to the faults of the object of their affection. How does this "blindness" function as a theme and what does it tell us about the characters and love itself in the novel?
  2. Hardy notes that Eustacia picked Damon, initially, because he was the only guy around. Is this true of her relationship with Clym as well?
  3. Are there any signs that Diggory and Thomasin won't be happy in the future? What details are used to describe their marriage, and how might these clue us in to their future?
  4. This book focuses a lot on romantic love, but we also see a good bit of family interaction as well. How is familial love portrayed in the novel and how does it differ from other kinds of love?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Diggory's love for Thomasin is the only honest love story in the novel – Diggory isn't blinded by his love, unlike everyone else.

Thomasin does not love Damon by the time they finally get married; she only marries him due to a lack of other options.

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