The Character of Eustacia Vye in the Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

The Character of Eustacia Vye in the Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

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The Character of Eustacia Vye in the Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

Analyse Hardy’s presentation of Eustacia Vye in Book One in the light
of this comment.

In “Return of the Native” we first come across the character of
Eustacia Vye in Chapter 7. In this chapter Hardy gives us an in depth
description of the character, for example we learn that she “was the
raw material of a divinity”. Here Hardy is comparing her to a godlike
figure which immediately gives us an impression of a character that is
above the rest of the characters of the heath. Further divine imagery
is used throughout this chapter, other examples are, “On Olympus she
would have done well with a little preparation”, “In heaven she will
probably sit between the Heloises and the Cleopatras.” And “She had
the passions and instincts which make a model goddess, that is, those
which make not quite a model woman.” All of these add together to
present her as something not of this world, this in a way shows the
audience how she doesn’t belong with the ‘lower’ members of society.

In a way Hardy is also ambiguous about the presentation of Eustacia,
as he seems to be torn between her divinity and her humanity. This is
particularly apparent in the quote “She had the passions and instincts
which make a model goddess, that is, those which make not quite a
model woman.” Although we are presented with a goddess like
character, we also know how she is human as we learn about her past,
that she is an orphan and how Egdon is not really her native
birthplace, but instead she is presented as the native of a seaside
resort, this could be an attempt to make the character appear mo...


... middle of paper ...


... In class
we could not decide whether or not we actually liked her, but the
criticisms painted her not only as a tragic figure, but also as a
tragic figure that had no part in her own tragedy. In other words,
the criticisms seemed to say that Eustacia was a sad victim of
circumstance and fate; she was a brilliant woman stuck in a confining
atmosphere. As one critic says, “Eustacia finds her potential for
effective activity cripplingly limited…emotional power over other
individuals is the only kind of influence [she] can exercise.” I
found myself feeling sorry for her despite the fact that she is
immature, impulsive, manipulative and completely selfish. Perhaps
these character traits would disappear had she been allowed to express
herself in an atmosphere, and with people, equalling her brilliance
and passion.

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