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With reference to the first seven chapters of 'The return of the native', show how Hardy uses the novels setting to develop character.

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Introduction

21st September 2003 - Pre 19th Century Novel With reference to the first seven chapters, show how Hardy uses the novels setting to develop character It has been said by many critics, that the main focus of Hardy's pre-19th century novel "The Return of the Native", is none of the characters, but the almost animate heath land upon which it is set. Hardy's methods of describing the heath, allows us to view it as several different things to several different characters, for example, Eustacia Vye, to whom the heath is a prison, or Clym Yeobright, husband of Eustacia, who views Egdon Heath as an area housing the commonest man, a group of people who have been transformed into simplicity by the heath, who he can educate. One possible reason of this is because the heath is written to seem almost ancient, thus has had time to adapt to the way nature shapes the landscape at its will, "at present, a place perfectly accordant with mans nature ". With features such as barrows, Hardy has created a religious, almost pagan feel to the heath land, with on which the main characters congregate in the first few scenes, to hold a bonfire, giving the night air upon the land an eerie feeling throughout the rest of the book. ...read more.

Middle

She lights her fire, and attempts to communicate with something which will set her free from the realm - a man, to either take her from Egdon to America, such as Wildeve promises, or back to Paris, the location from which her husband has come. Another interesting feature of Hardy using objects, rather than words or actions to describe how a character feels, is Eustacia constantly viewing the heath from her telescope, as if she is hoping for some kind of miracle, a 'knight in shining armour' to come and whisk her from her feet. Another good example of a similar event is her checking her hourglass while waiting upon the heath. These two items, the telescope in particular being from distant places (of which she wishes she could travel to), differ significantly from peasant tools or items, from which she is eager to disassociate herself from. However Hardy is again referring to the vastness of the heath, by implementing a telescope, and the immense age of the heath, by an hourglass, however, for Eustacia, the hourglass diminishes the vastness of the heath, almost providing her with something she's wished for. ...read more.

Conclusion

This early superstition in the novel serves many purposes, the main ones being reader interest, and plot evolution - for it is a form of superstition, voodoo, which a heath folk uses against Eustacia as she finally tries to negate the heath, causing her death. Another pastime which suitably provides the heath inhabitants when they are not creating fire is gossip. The heath only fuels the peoples desire to talk about others' business, because the community is very small, so hence everybody is aware of the news of everybody else, for instance, the news of Clyms success as a scholar travels for miles before he has even reached the age of three. Personally, I do not subscribe to the belief that the heath is a character within its own right, even though Hardy inspires such thoughts with phrases such as "The storm was its lover, the wind was its friend". I believe that Hardy's immense concentration upon the heath is merely a sign of two its importance to the play, and as a method which he can use to develop the rest of the characters, such as Eustacia, helping her to constantly arrive at a "state of enlightenment which feels that nothing is worthwhile".. ...read more.

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