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The Return of the Native

The Return of the Native

by Thomas Hardy

The Return of the Native Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Man and the Natural World

"Man and the Natural World" is arguably the central theme of the book. The heath functions as its own character in addition to being an evocative backdrop that has some sort of psychic link to the...

Fate and Free Will

The Debate To End All Debates – does fate control our lives or do we have free will? – takes center stage in this novel. And in The Return of the Native we get frequent hints that free...

Love

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. Chara...

Family

Families in The Return of the Native can be vicious. No one can hold a grudge quite like a family member and no one an offer up loyalty quite like one either. The family relationship at the heart o...

Tradition and Custom

Egdon Heath definitely operates based on tradition and a good dose of expectations for certain social groups. In The Return of the Native we see people failing to performing their expected "roles"...

Pride

Pride is the worst of the seven deadly sins for a reason (so says Dante, among others) – it leads to a ton of problems, not just for the prideful person but for the people around them. Pride...

Language and Communication

The Return of the Native begins with some seriously old-fashioned communication techniques: signal fires. The communication strategy of choice for desert island castaways (like in Pirates of the Ca...

Memory and the Past

In The Return of the Native, memory is like a living, breathing thing on the heath. The heath might be memory personified in a way – it's constantly linked to ruins and artifacts and the past...

Dissatisfaction

If Eustacia had an iPod with an Egdon Heath playlist, then "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones would be at the top of it. The Stones start off that classic song with, "I can't get no satisfaction....

Guilt and Blame

Given the major traits that link the cast of The Return of the Native (dissatisfaction, poor decision-making skills, faulty judgment, depression, pride), it's no wonder that guilt and blame come in...

Isolation

In The Return of the Native we get frequent images of people walking alone. And while they're alone, they are generally silent and are often swallowed up by the heath. The entire world of this nove...

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