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'It is not a character, it is not alive, it is just a vast barren landscape - yet it has an important influence on the behaviour of its inhabitants'.

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Introduction

'It is not a character, it is not alive, it is just a vast barren landscape - yet it has an important influence on the behaviour of its inhabitants'. Examine Hardy's depiction of the heath in the light of this statement. Thomas Hardy presents Egdon Heath as a character and a vast landscape which is not barren but has an effect in the inhabitant's lives and decisions. Egdon heath rules the lives of the inhabitants and their relationship with the heath determines their lives. In chapter 1, Thomas Hardy uses personification to describe the heath as a character: 'The storm was its lover'. This suggests that the heath controls nature. It also suggests that something as destructive as a storm can be tamed into loving. Through this, Hardy also suggests that the storm does not affect the heath or its inhabitants but it affects outsiders on the heath like Eustacia who realises during the storm that she cannot and it affects trees planted outside the heath. ...read more.

Middle

By providing the heath folk with their occupation, Thomas Hardy suggests that the heath defines the lives of the heath folk therefore without the heath, the heath folk would be without traditional occupations found on the heath. Their livelihood and survival in the age if industrial revolution depends greatly on the heath, therefore the heath folk are more likely to appreciate the heath more than those who do not depend on the heath. Egdon Heath has an impact on the plot of 'The Return of the Native' and this is reflected during the dice game as the heath provides 'glow worm' for the game to continue. Another way in which the heath has an impact on the plot is through Mrs. Yeobright's death. She is 'exhausted from inside'. The hot weather of the heath means she is exhausted and tired and even water cannot quench her thirst. She dies from exhaustion and the snake bite, which suggests that the heath is persecuting her for sending her son away to Paris and for her oedipal love for Clym. ...read more.

Conclusion

The death of Mrs. Yeobright and the fact that Clym ends up without a wife suggests the end of his family name. Egdon was inspired by Thomas Hardy's house in Dorset as a child. It is believed that he had a small heath surrounding his house which he expanded and immortalised in Egdon. In conclusion, Egdon Heath is a character and it is alive. It is important in the lives of the inhabitants. It acts as a guardian as well as a habitat. Despite its protective nature over the inhabitants, the heath outlives the inhabitants and remains unchanged. The heath is a character as is noted from Hardy's focus on description of the heath in the first chapter perhaps making it the most important character in the book because it outlasts the outsiders and defines the insiders. The heath is not barren although it is vast; the heath is a provider for its inhabitants making it impossible for it to be barren. The heath provides the insiders with their occupations and provides them with a setting for events such as 'May poling' which defines the heath folk. ...read more.

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