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Questions

The Return of the Native Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. How does Egdon Heath act as a character in the novel?
  2. Hardy uses a ton of classical allusions in this book, with references to Greek and Roman mythology in nearly every chapter. How are these references significant to the book as a whole? What might Hardy be trying to communicate with his Greco-Roman references?
  3. The relationship our characters have with the heath is definitely important in this book. Which characters have the most positive relationship with the heath, and what does this tell us about those folks?
  4. Putting aside positive and negative views on the heath, which characters are most strongly linked to it in this novel? What do these connections tell us about these characters and about the heath itself?
  5. Eustacia is described as all sorts of other-worldly figures: a goddess, a witch, a priestess. Does Hardy just have a massive crush or are these descriptions important to understanding Eustacia's character and her place in the novel? How do these descriptions give us insight into Eustacia's role in the novel?
  6. Though Clym is the returning native of the title, his introduction in the story comes pretty late. What effect does this delay have on the story? How would the novel have been different if Clym was introduced to us in the first few chapters?
  7. Did Eustacia drown or did she commit suicide? Does the novel provide us with a hint as to the answer, or is it left vague? And what might be the importance of the mystery surrounding Eustacia's death?
  8. Hardy originally wrote another, sadder ending, in which Thomasin and Diggory don't get married and everyone winds up alone. How different would the tone and themes of the novel be if it ended in this manner?
  9. Does this book have a true villain or are all the characters largely sympathetic in some way? Is there evidence that this book might have a non-human villain?

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