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The Return of the Native
In the novel, Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, the three female characters-Eustacia Vye, Mrs. Yeobright, and Thomasin Yeobright-are distinguishably different in many ways. They have different characteristics that reflect their personality that are displayed in the novel.
Eustacia Vye or, "Queen Night," is a native of the fashionable seaside resort of Budmouth and whose non-English father gives her an appearance that is slightly exotic, is ever an outsider on Egdon Heath. Her grandfather\'s house is isolated physically, and she keeps herself apart from the heath dwellers by her walks alone and her frequently nightly excursions to the summit of Rainbarrow. The villagers look upon her as a unfriendly and too proud; Mrs. Yeobright tells Clym she is idle and probably wanton. Susan Nunsuck even thinks of her as a witch. Her view of life is a foreign to the heath as her person: " In Eustacia\'s brain were juxtaposed the strangest assortment of ideas, from old time and from new. There was no middle distance in her perspective: romantic recollections of sunny afternoons on an esplanade, with military bands, officers, and gallants around, stood like gilded letters upon the dark tablet of surrounding Egdon." She is a hedonist for whom love as an end in itself is the greatest pleasure. She also takes perverse pleasure in being unconventional in small ways. Her whole personality has a slumberous cast to it. When she say on one occasion to Wildeve that they were hot lovers, it is not clear that she means more than that they were emotionally involved. That she is beautiful in an exotic way, she often acts very much like a spoiled child. These are ways in which Eustacia differs from everyone else.
Clym\'s mother is "a well-known and respected widow of the neighborhood, of a standing which can only be expressed by the word genteel." The fact that though her husband was a small farmer she herself is a curate\'s daughter sets her apart from the heath folk and causes then to respect her presence. She is conventional in her views, looking open material success, for instance, as a mark of a man\'s worth in life. Her repeated concern over the slight to Thomasin\'s character and that of her family from the young woman\'s delayed marriage to Wildeve says much about her as a person. Appearances and reputation are important to her; she is shocked, for example, by the sight of her son dressed as a furze cutter. Her relationships to Clym and her niece Thomasin are rather austere; she habitually reacts to them by giving advice. The very thing that has sustained her in her widow hard turns out finally to undo her: her inflexibility of judgement. Mrs. Yeobright is very hard on herself and is different compared to Eustacia and Thomasin.
The gentle Thomasin is the young innocent who through no lack of goodwill and right intentions of her part is treated roughly by circumstances or, in Hardy\'s view, by the sort of world man lives in. She is so normal and conventional in her view, and her personality that it is easy to forget that she takes any part in the story. She wants to do right by everyone, is equitably and kingly treated by everyone but her husband, and by the end of the novel is conventionally disposed of for a happy future. Her only fault, from her aunt\'s point of view, is that she persists in wanting to marry Wildeve even after she has not been well treated. But from our point of view, her only fault is in the sense that she is too generous in her attitude toward others, too willing to do the right thing as she understands it.
Eustacia Vye, Mrs. Yeobright, and Thomasin Yeobright are different in many ways that has been pointed out in the novel. They share some similar characteristics but they also differ more ways than one. They all have different personalities that the Hardy has distinguished very clearly.
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Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native, Egdon Heath, Ulex, Stacy
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