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MonkeyNotes-Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
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Chapters 10-11

Summary

Venn calls on Eustacia, but she cannot be persuaded to give up Wildeve, despite his telling her that he has seen and overheard them at Rainbarrow. Venn goes to Mrs. Yeobright and asks for her niece's hand in marriage, informing her that though he himself has proposed to Thomasin and been rejected, things are different now. Mrs. Yeobright rejects his offer.

Mrs. Yeobright meets Wildeve and lets him know that he is not her niece's only suitor. Wildeve is still unwilling to commit himself and rushes to meet Eustacia to ask her if she will commit herself to him, but she refuses to do so.

Back at home, Captain Vye mentions that Clym Yeobright is returning home from Paris at Christmas.


Notes

At the end of Book One, the stage is set for the arrival of the protagonist and Eustacia's attraction to him. Wildeve earlier recognizes that Eustacia hates the heath. She agrees with his observation and says that the heath is "my cross, my shame, and will be my death," words that clearly foreshadow her tragic end on Egdon. To such a person, any whiff of fresh air on the heath must be a godsend; that he comes directly from Paris is even more meaningful.

It is ironic that the resourcefulness of Venn backfires. He is neither able to dissuade Eustacia from playing fast and loose with Thomasin's chance of a happy marriage, nor does Wildeve withdraw from his involvement with Eustacia, even after knowing that Thomasin has another suitor. It is also ironic that the arrival of Clym should coincide with the disillusionment of Eustacia after hearing that Thomasin, a "socially inferior woman," has rejected Wildeve.

New facets of Eustacia's character are revealed here. At first, Wildeve becomes dearer in her eyes when another woman intends to marry him, but that Thomasin has supposedly rejected him comes as a shock to her. "What a humiliating victory! what was the man worth, whom a woman inferior to herself did not value?" Eustacia is perverse enough to want something only so long as it is unattainable and conceited enough to think that she is much better than Thomasin. She is also petty enough to change her evaluation of Wildeve based upon Thomasin's rejection of him.

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