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"Discuss the character of Clym Yeobright in 'The Return of the Native'. Do you consider that his altruism is genuine or a vehicle for self-fulfilment?" Discuss.

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Introduction

"Discuss the character of Clym Yeobright in 'The Return of the Native'. Do you consider that his altruism is genuine or a vehicle for self-fulfilment?" Discuss. One of Hardy's classic statements about modern love, courtship and marriage, 'The Return of the Native' is set in the pastoral village of Egdon Heath. The fiery Eustacia Vye, wishing only for passionate love, believes that her escape from Egdon lies in her marriage to Clym Yeobright, the returning 'native', home from Paris and dissatisfied with his work there. Clym wishes to remain in Egdon, a desire that sets him in opposition to his wife and brings them both to despair. Clym is the patient, generous and some what na�ve protagonist, who has a romantic, socialist outlook on life, he is nonetheless deeply determined and introspective. Throughout the novel he represents Hardy's opinion of the modern man, as well as Hardy himself, as the novel is partly autobiographical. ...read more.

Middle

which in a sense, towards the end of the book, Eustacia realises as she begins to "...observe herself as a disinterested spectator, and think what a sport for Heaven this woman Eustacia was." Clym is another who accepts his fate, saying "What will be, will be." All the characters are in some way deeply flawed, and Clym's lack of ability, or compliance, to communicate causes distress for many, including himself. During the early stages of his marriage to Eustacia they each spend a considerable amount of time simply assuming that the other is happy to conform to their individual, ideal plans. Clym's rejection of communication frustrates us, but I think that the novel deliberately perplexes the reader, leaving them to form their own argument. Before his arrival Clym is, perhaps unfairly, built up by Hardy in the reader's minds to be something he is not. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is, however, plausible that he is so certain that his new vocation is the right one that he expects those he loves to automatically support him with his decision. I personally get the impression that Clym starts to believe that he, alone, can change the lives of all the villagers, and effectively thinks that he is going to 'save' them, thus adopting a sort of patronising, 'martyr' attitude. I also think that the theme of the Heath's consistency throughout the novel could perhaps be used to emphasise the fact that in Egdon, Hardy is God, that the characters are only significant amongst their small community and that it would take something a lot more than one man with an idea in his head to change a community like it, something like the industrial revolution. I consider Clym's altruism to be genuine to an extent, but I believe that his self-fulfilment gives him the majority of his motivation. ...read more.

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