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Compare how the natural world is used symbolically by Thomas Hardy and Emily Bronte in The Return of the Native and Wuthering Heights

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Introduction

Compare how the natural world is used symbolically by Thomas Hardy and Emily Bronte in The Return of the Native and Wuthering Heights Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights both concern themselves with the relationship man has to Nature and the extent to which it influences on the personality and the lives of those that live within the countryside. In both novels there is the sense of Nature as having a distinct character: as providing not only a backdrop to the narrative but also having a manlike personality. However, the two authors deal with this in remarkably different ways. In this essay I will examine and contrast the ways in which Hardy and Bronte picture Nature and the place it has within their work. The Return of the Native is a novel that, from its opening passages, is concerned not only with the subject of Nature but also the relationship man has with it: "The face of the heath by its mere complexion added half an hour to an evening; it could in like manner retard the dawn, sadden noon, anticipate the frowning of the storms scarcely generated..." ...read more.

Middle

But she does not know how, by what means, so romantic imagination: Paris and the beau monde." (Lawrence) Hardy, then, sees Nature as being both aggressive and caring to humankind; it can be the cause of great isolation of the spirit and also weakness, but also provides a livelihood and a place of safety. The workers on the farm or Diggery Venn, for instance, become literally a part of its surface but Eustacia, never completely a part of it, continuously fights against Nature instead of being guided by it and is thus eventually killed. In Wuthering Heights there is a much less hesitant use of Nature and the vast honesty of the moors. However, unlike Hardy, the spirit of Nature becomes a much more psychological presence, providing an almost constant sense of destiny and bleakness that matches the personal speeches of the characters themselves. As in The Return of the Native, however, the eternal nature of the moors is hinted at, as the story is told the heath remains strangely constant even though the seasons alter and change around it: "In winter the frost is always there before it comes to us; and deep into summer I have found snow under that black hollow on the north-east side." ...read more.

Conclusion

In both books Nature can be seen as one of the major characters, Egdon Heath and the moors on which Wuthering Heights stands both change and remain constant, both are eternal and both provide a backdrop to the dramas that are played out in front of them. In Hardy, to an extent, Nature can be seen as representing the community, it enables farm workers to survive, it allows there to be hops for the wedding feast, kindling for fires for Guy Fawkes night or for lovers to signal to each other, in Wuthering Heights the misery of the moors separates and isolates, it keeps people apart, the snow and the mud, as in the extract above concerning Lockwood, restrain restricts gathering and community and the mist and drizzle provides a reflection of the confusion and pointlessness of a life spent mourning upon the dead. Ultimately, both books represent, perhaps, not only the absurd and differing views of their respective authors but also of the wider society. Together they give us a picture of not only the views of Nineteenth Century minds towards Nature but they ways that they were collectively linked to it, a situation that has inevitably changed in an age that has become more and more removed from Nature and the ways it affects our lives. ...read more.

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