Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Return of the Native: What in the World Do the Main Characters Want?


II. Logic Stage Inquiry

What do the main characters want?

         Clym gives up his lucrative career as a diamond merchant in Paris to return to the Heath.  In his mind, he is one with the Heath.  
If any one knew the heath well it was Clym.  He was permeated with its scenes, with its substance, and with its odours.  He might be said to be its product.  
          And because he is not in his right mind, he wants to open a school for the poor in the community.  
“…I want to do some worthy thing before I die.  As a schoolmaster I think to do it – a schoolmaster to the poor and ignorant, to teach them what nobody else will." 
Clym “did not care much about social failure.”

         For Eustacia, her greatest desire is 
...to be loved to madness.  Love was to her the one cordial which could drive away the eating loneliness of her days.   And she seemed to long for the abstraction called passionate love more than any particular lover.  
She doesn’t care for marriage, and she is disconnected from the heath.  She wants a way out of the heath. 

So, what is the problem?

         Clym must study to become a schoolmaster, but in the process, he takes a wife, Eustacia, who wants the complete opposite of what he wants.  Then, when too much studying injures his eyesight, he takes a labor job on the Heath because he cannot remain idle, and he cannot study again until his eyesight improves.  However, before that happens, his mother dies, which changes everything. 

         Eustacia’s problem is that she plays games.  First, she idealizes Wildeve, but he is pursuing Thomasin.  After Wildeve marries Thomasin, Eustacia marries Clym because she thinks she can use him to escape the Heath; but her “love lost all of its power” when he injures his sight and becomes a furze-cutter. 

      Finally, when she thinks Wildeve can rescue her, she re-evaluates her situation, and decides, 
“He is not great enough for me.  He does not suffice for my desire!” 
Then she ends with:
“How I have tried and tried to be a splendid woman, and how destiny has been against me!...I do not deserve my lot!” 
Either she cannot selfishly use others to get what she wants, or others are just not good enough for her.  She is doomed! 

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