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Examine the Degree to Which the Conventions and Attitudes of the Contemporary Victorian Society Figure in the Book 'Return of the Native'.

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Introduction

Charles Rahal 15th October 2003 - Thomas Hardy - As Level. Examine the Degree to Which the Conventions and Attitudes of the Contemporary Victorian Society Figure in Book First of 'Return of the Native' The conventions and attitudes of Victorian society within the heath figure greatly in almost every part of 'Return of the Native', based within the 1840's. The conventions and attitudes are almost designed to twist and turn the plot, considering how great a part they play in almost every Chapter. Within 'Book First - The Three Women', we can already see how simple attitudes towards class, wealth and profession figure among the society. Eustacia bothers not even to consult the reddleman on his name, but merely remarks to him as if a common peasant, unworthy of speaking with her, because of his trade. This simple convention of the Egdon society, however are often misleading and quite confusing, considering even a reddleman, "perhaps I am not so worse off than Wildeve". Diggory is a member of society outcast by himself as punishment, set to travel the plains alone, as what he thinks he deserves(it is therefore ironic that he turns red, a colour of passion and romance). ...read more.

Middle

Marry Thamosin, or run to America and avoid being disgraced within the community, were Wildeves only choices, as the conformity of Victorian society ruled so harsh. The social attitudes towards Eustacia upon the heath are typical of Victorian society, considering how she chooses to spend her time and live her life. She asks her uncle "Why is it that we are never friendly with the Yeobrights?" receiving a reply of "I recollect that I once accidentally offended her" ; displaying how a small event from the past can bring immense shame, due to not only the conventions of Victorian society, but also the desolateness of the heath. Eustacia is from the seaside resort of Budmouth, and hence views herself as a member of a higher society, hence why she laughs at the reddleman, and considers few of the people round the heath even contemplatable for marriage, treating people such as little Johnny and Charly with little respect, trying to complete her agreement of hand holding wearing a glove! However her ability to negotiate the heath at night is a result of her intimate knowledgeof this landscapeand when a bramble catches her ...read more.

Conclusion

The fire also strongly correlates to the passion evident between Eustacia and Wildeve, so from merely describing a custom traditional upon the heath, Hardy has used it to describe Egdon, the local furze cutters, and the relationship between Wildeve and Eustacia. The social conformities upon the heath are everywhere, from the respect given by even the lowest peasants cutting furze all day, to the highest member of society present upon the heath, Mrs Yeobright. The implications and desires of several heath folk are restricted by what is viewed as 'proper' among the heath - restricted by social conventions and attitudes within a contemporary time. The 'bands' for instance, which Mrs Yeobright places upon her niece and Wildeve within the church is a conventional idea within Victorian England which changes the plot as we would expect, forbidding them to wed, but then places herself within Wildeves power. Clyms return to home for Christmas from "the rookery of pomp and vanity, Paris" was not only just a contemporary event, but an event present in Victorian society at the end of Book First, which helps the novel to develop greatly between books, raising suspense as we are left to speculate his effect upon the precariously balanced relationships between the characters so far. ...read more.

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