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How well does Thomas Hardy's novel

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Introduction

Susana Corona Cruz GCSE English Coursework How well does Thomas Hardy's novel "The Return of the Native" succeed as a tragedy? On the first chapter of this novel Egdon Heath is presented as an untameable force "...unmoved during so many centuries, through the crisis of so many things, that it could only be imagined to await one last crisis - the final overthrow". Thus, from the very beginning of the novel we can expect an outcome of tragic possibilities. Similarly to ancient Greek tragedies, the action in "The Return of the Native" takes place during a restricted period of time. Usually, in Greek tragedies the plot developed within 24 hours, while Hardy limits himself to the space of 5 books, which represents an exact time of 1 year and a day. Although the novel extends to a 6th book; the main action and the tragedy itself is developed within the first five books. As its title indicates, the sixth book, "Aftercourses" was added to please the readers of the magazine in which his novel was published, in order to put a more closed end to the series. He provided them with a happy ending; as Thomasin and Venn end up marred. However, in its 1912 edition, Hardy included a footnote at the end of the book in which he stated that it was left to the reader to choose whichever ending he/she preferred. ...read more.

Middle

Ironically, instead of Clym changing them, it is him who changes into becoming one of them, as towards the end of the novel he becomes a furze-cutter. The 'fault' or 'flaw' within Clym's character, apart from upholding an over-romantic dream of nurturing the rustics with education, seems to be his marriage to Eustacia. They are completely different. Eustacia hopes Clym abandons his plans of educating and decides to take her to Paris instead (the only reason why she married him, holding the prospect of fleeing abroad). On the contrary, Clym never had any intention of doing this; he was more attached to the heath than ever and was determined not to go back to France. He had plans for becoming a teacher and ironically thought Eustacia to be her perfect partner in his education projects "She is excellently educated, and would make a good matron in a boarding school." He loves his birthplace and is in absolute harmony with the heath, whereas she loathes the place and desperately yearns to escape it. "Take all the varying hates felt by Eustacia Vye towards the heath, and translate them into loves, and you have the heart of Clym." Surely, nothing good could possible come out of the union of such opposed individuals, who had false expectations from each other. ...read more.

Conclusion

I would argue this is not so; it may be true that the title of heroine evolves around Clym and Eustacia, being very difficult to precise which of the two best fits the role, however in my opinion, I'd say this is up to readers to determine and does not take away the fact that this is, most certainly and without a doubt, a tragedy, as most other factors comply with the exigencies of the genre. Regardless of Hardy's efforts to maintain unities of place, time and other tragedy conventions; the way the plot develops with a sense of foreboding in the novel's consequences, convert this book into a classic of the genre. The relentless mood and development, the numerous lucky (or unlucky) coincidences that are later to determine the future of the characters and the way people continually strive to change the way things are, combine the prefect ingredients of a tragedy. As often in Greek tragedies, fate plays an essential role and the people in the novel can't escape it because it would only keep coming back. Chance seems to dictate the destiny of the characters, playing around with their lives as if they were mere pieces on a chess board. The forces of the heath seem to inflict some sort of control on the characters, fulfilling the Greek tragedy convention of gods playing around with humans' lives. ...read more.

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