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MonkeyNotes-Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
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BOOK THREE

Chapters 1-2

Summary

The heath dwellers are proud to have someone like Clym Yeobright in their neighborhood. He was a gifted boy with awe- inspiring talent, and his career as a manager to a diamond merchant in Paris impresses them. When he comes by the haircutting at Fairways and declares that he would like to stay on Egdon Heath and become a schoolteacher, no one believes him. His mother is particularly shocked by his decision and tries to convince him it is a foolish decision. As he tries to explain his reasoning, he is interrupted by a hysterical Christian Cantle, who relates how Eustacia Vye has been pricked in the arm by Susan Nunsuch. Susan has long suspected her of being a witch and bewitching her children.

Clym's curiosity about Eustacia is aroused, and he wonders whether she is the same woman who had disguised herself as the Turkish Knight on the day the party was given at his house. Sam, who is also present, helpfully hints that Clym could see Eustacia if he came to Captain Vye's house with them. Sam must go there this same day with some of the other men in order to retrieve a bucket which has fallen into the well.


Notes

Book Three opens with the chorus of heath dwellers discussing Clym. They are in awe of him, since he was a precocious child and since he has been a successful manager in the diamond business in Paris; they expect even greater things of him in the future. Ironically, Clym comes by this chorus of health folk and tells them of his intention to stay on the heath and teach school. They shake their heads and prophesy that he would soon "see things otherwise." His mother is the most shocked of all; she feels he is making a foolish decision and tries to dissuade him.

Mrs. Yeobright's concern about what people would think about her son's decision shows that she is petty-minded and concerned about appearances. She speaks of her expectations of him, of "all the trouble that has been taken to give you a start" and how much he is obliged to her to do well in life. In a like manner, she earlier spoke of the stigma or the "stain" on Thomasin's character because of her failed first attempt at marriage. Although an intelligent woman, she is much too concerned about what other people think; she is also extremely biased and traditional. When she realizes that her son is interested in Eustacia Vye, she is quite upset and tells Clym that "good girls don't get treated as witches even on Egdon." In truth, Mrs. Yeobright is alarmed at the thought of her son meeting a woman as strong if not stronger than she is and being open to an influence other than her own. She obviously recognizes the power of Eustacia and judges her as the enemy.

It is important to note the picture of the heath dwellers suffering silently and bravely at the hands of Fairway, the "barber," and the uncomprehending way they respond to Clym's statement of his new ambition. The picture that is painted of them is another instance of the gentle humor that Hardy employs in the treatment of village folk. His humorous portrayal of Christian Cantle also continues in this section. The timid and fearful Christian, shaking "like a driven leaf," is the perfect person to impart news about witchcraft. He tells how Susan Nunsuch has pricked Eustacia in the arm because she thinks she is a witch.

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