Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Return of the Native: What Is the Author's Argument?


III. Rhetoric-Stage Inquiry

What argument is the author making, and do you agree?

         My favorite argument is that it is self-destructive to make assumptions and suppositions without good communication.  How often the plot thickens because a character thinks he or she has all of the facts or knows what someone’s true intention is.

         For example, Mrs. Yeobright never believed that her son wanted to leave his lucrative career in Paris to live permanently on the Heath to become a lousy schoolmaster on his own.  It was that witch, Eustacia, who convinced him to stay behind and do such a foolish job as run a school for poor kids.  But, if Mrs. Y only knew that Eustacia would rather have lived in Paris with a successful husband, maybe their relationship would not have gotten off to such a bad start.

         Another example involves Mrs. Yeobright’s inheritance money that was gambled away to Wildeve by Christian who was supposed to deliver half to Clym and the other half to Thomasin.  Diggory recovers all of it, but without knowledge that half went to Clym, he gave all of it to Thomasin.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Y only hears Christian’s account of it being lost to Wildeve, and she quickly accuses Wildeve of giving it privately to Eustacia, his old love.  This causes a major confrontation between the two women.

         And let’s not forget that on the day Mrs. Yeobright seeks reconciliation with Clym and Eustacia, she is quick to think Eustacia has convinced her son to ignore her knock at the door, especially given that she saw Clym enter the house and Eustacia peer through the window; but Eustacia assumed Clym would wake up and let his mother in.  Neither happened, and Mrs. Y went away dejected.

         Of course, I have to agree with this because it is commonplace.  Humans have a tendency to jump to conclusions causing more grief than if they would have better communicated or investigated deeper before drawing an understanding or opinion of someone’s intentions.  It is advantageous to give others the benefit of the doubt before singlehandedly judging his heart without consultation. 

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