A few last words about The Return Of The Native. As I've already said, this was Hardy's favourite among his novels, and it contains lightly disguised autobiographical elements.
Hardy was often called a Romantic by his readers and critics. Which he strongly repudiated, considering himself a Realist. This dichotomy is realized in his portrayal of Clym Yeobright and Eustacia Vye on the one hand, and Diggory Venn on the other. Clym and Eustacia embody 2 different kinds of romantic idealism - an idealism based on illusion, which founders in dejection, disappointment and, in Eustacia's case, death. Clym is enthusiastic about ideas but careless about outward things; Eustacia longs for a world beyond the Heath where she believes the grass grows greener. In contrast Venn, the reddleman, is rational, realistic, artful, practical and premeditated in his ways. He's isolated and independent, his own man, and closely associated with the Heath itself. He reminds one of Gabriel Oak in Far From The Madding Crowd. Although Venn finally marries Thomasin, Hardy did not originally intend this ending, preferring a wholly tragic conclusion. In fact there are both Romantic and Realist aspects to this novel - unsurprisingly, for Hardy himself was just such a mixture of opposing characteristics, as I described in yesterday's post.
Venn is a man of few words, but he's not afraid to speak when he has something to say. On this occasion he remains untalkative: 'Upon my life, it fairly startled me when the man spoke!' said Fairway, handing a candle. 'Oh - 'tis the reddleman. You've kept a quiet tongue, young man.''Yes, I had nothing to say,' observed Venn. In a few minutes he arose and wished the company good-night.
To finish with, here are some words Eustacia says to Clym: Sometimes more bitterness is sown in five minutes than can be got rid of in a whole life... This is one of the novel's themes. The bitterness resulting from pride, stubbornness, deception and uncontrollable desire leads relentlessly to tragedy.