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MonkeyNotes-Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
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Chapters 6-7

Summary

Johnny Nunsuch is wearily and reluctantly tending the bonfire as commanded by Eustacia. The latter walks to Rainbarrow to gaze at the "Quiet Woman" and then comes back to look at the bonfire in front of her house. Wildeve signals his approach by means of a stone thrown into the water; Eustacia hurriedly sends the boy away with six pence. She is pleased that Wildeve has come, but she is upset that he will not state that he loves her. They part on a mutually dissatisfied note and without any commitments to each other.

Eustacia's beauty and her bloodline are described at length. Her parentage and the reason for her being transplanted from Budmouth, which she loves, to Egdon, which she hates, are cited.


Notes

Wildeve and Eustacia meet again, and it is obvious that they have been lovers in the past. Wildeve says to her, "You give me no peace. Why do you not leave me alone?" She feels triumphant that she has summoned him to her side; she also is delighted that he has not carried through with his marriage to Thomasin. Despite these successes, Eustacia is not successful in wringing an admission of love from him.

They indulge in verbal and emotional fencing, neither of them wishing to commit themselves to any declaration of love. It seems as though both of them are more in love with the idea of love than with each other. Ironically, both of them accuse each other of infidelity. They part on a note of mutual dissatisfaction, knowing that they use one another and probably always will.

Hardy is eloquent about the strange and unconventional beauty of Eustacia Vye, "the raw material of a divinity." Her physical beauty is wild, for she has "pagan eyes," dark black hair, and lips with the corners as clear cut "as the point of a spear." She is mysterious and inexplicable, the "Queen of Night, born to reign on Egdon, like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear." Ironically, she hates Egdon and its nature; her fiery soul longs for the shallow and hollow beauty and vanity of Paris. With a restless soul and a depth of emotion, Eustacia wishes to fulfill her one great desire, "to be loved to madness."

Whatever she is and does, Eustacia never practices self-delusion, admitting to herself that the only reason she loves Wildeve is "for want of a better object" on the gloomy heath. Ironically, Eustacia is very much a part of the setting, a parallel to Egdon Heath in her dark beauty and wild emotions. It is on the heath that Eustacia is first seen, and it is here where she is last seen alive.

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