Personal Goals Influencing Marriage in the Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

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Personal Goals Influencing Marriage in the Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

When one thinks of marriage, images of happiness, faithfulness, and unconditional love come to mind. Marriages are not for allowing two lovers to accomplish personal goals, but rather for faithful companions to live the rest of their lives together. In The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy presents the reader with two pairs of lovers that marry to accomplish personal goals, not because of a mutual love and a desire to obtain a lifelong soul mate. Hardy reveals the true motives governing the participants in the novels marriage alliances: Eustacia, Clym, Thomasin, and Wildeve marry to carry out their individual plans for the future, rather than for love of one another.

Eustacia Vye is a lazy, self-absorbed, cunning diva whose desire to marry Clym Yeobright is based on her vision of a extravagant life in Paris with her prized husband. It is the news that Clym is from Paris that generates Eustacia's vision of pomp and glamour. She gets so infatuated with her vision of what Clym Yeobright is, that before she even meets him, she has a dream of the two dancing the night away. There is further evidence of Eustacia's fascination with Parisian life. When Eustacia and

Clym meet while trying to fetch the water bucket from the well, there is mention of the boulevards of Paris, and this piques Eustacia's interest. Clym recognizes her interest in the city by saying, "I remember when I had the same longing for town bustle. Five years of a great city would be a perfect cure for that." (Page 191). Eustacia responds, "Heavens send me such a cure!" (Page 191). Finally, when the love between Eustacia and Clym blossoms, Clym proposes to Eustacia, and Eustacia...

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... saying the "I Do's", glances at Eustacia with a glance that

said plainly, "I have punished you now." (Page 169). The

personal motives surrounding the marriages of characters in

the novel reveal the self-centered tendencies of humans.

None of the characters chose love as the deciding factor over

want in their marriage. This is a sad but all to common

occurrence today, and a reason why we have such a high

divorce rate. I'm sure that if divorce was more socially

acceptable in the days of The Return of the Native, that the

characters would regret their decisions, and be separated in a

matter of months.


Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

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