The Return of the Native
by Thomas Hardy
The Return of the Native Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
Moreover to light a fire is the instinctive and resistant act of man when, at the winter ingress, the curfew is sounded throughout Nature. It indicates a spontaneous, Promethean rebelliousness against the fiat that this recurrent season shall bring foul times, cold darkness, misery and death. (1.3.8)
Here's some trivia – the Promethean myth was the favorite myth many nineteenth-century Romantics, who prized counter-culture and rebellion. You can't get much more rebellious than defying the will of the gods, after all. So it's interesting that Hardy (part-time Romantic that he was) cited the myth here, particularly when we consider the "rebellious" nature of Eustacia.
But celestial imperiousness, love, wrath, and fervour had proven to be somewhat thrown away on netherward Egdon. Her power was limited, and the consciousness of this limitation had biassed her development. Egdon was her Hades. (1.7.7)
The structure of this sentence is really interesting in that it sort of illustrates its main point for us. The overall idea here is that Egdon undermines Eustacia's fiery personality. The sentence itself sandwiches the romantic words that describe Eustacia ("love," "wrath," etc.) between two very killjoy words: "but" and "thrown away." But after undermining Eustacia's "celestial" nature, the prose gets much more dramatic and romantic once again in order to set up a contrast between the Hades of Egdon and the "celestial" nature of Eustacia, who is figuratively being dragged down by Egdon.
The subtle beauties of the heath were lost to Eustacia; she only caught its vapours. An environment which would have made a contented woman a poet, a suffering woman a devotee, a pious woman a psalmist, even a giddy woman thoughtful, made a rebellious woman saturnine. (1.7.19)
Throughout the novel Hardy tends to alternate back and forth pretty regularly between very short, to-the-point sentences and very lengthy ones that have multiple clauses. After establishing that Eustacia isn't a fan of the heath, the text uses a series of contrasts to really hammer home the point that Eustacia isn't just any woman: she's a rebel. And what the heck does "saturnine" mean? After consulting a dictionary, we learned that it means "gloomy." We would've thought the small-town heath would make a rebellious woman even more rebellious, like in Footloose or something, but apparently not. That Hardy, so unpredictable.