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MonkeyNotes-Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
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OVERALL ANALYSES

CHARACTERS

Clement Yeobright

Clym is the protagonist of the novel and the native who has returned to Egdon Heath. By nature, he is a proud and philosophical man, who wants a quiet, peaceful existence in the country. He loves Egdon in all its moods, and it is his concern about uplifting the heath-dwellers that has caused his permanent return from Paris. Clym is known for his high ideals and his high expectations of other people.

Clym is characterized by his rigidity and hardness. His mother warns Eustacia that "you will find that though he is as gentle as a child with you now, he can be as hard as steel!" Mrs. Yeobright experiences her son's toughness when he decides to marry Eustacia in spite of her motherly advice against it. When she nags him about his decision, Clym moves out of her house, and mother and son do not speak for a long while. Clym knows he should reconcile with his mother, but cannot bring himself to do so easily, for he feels torn between the two women in his life. In the end, it is Mrs. Yeobright who tries to make the first move towards reconciliation. Unfortunately, she dies before it comes to pass.


Eustacia also finds Clym to be tough and hard. Her husband is set in his ways and does not listen to her wants and needs. He does not understand her desire to move from the heath or to be loved passionately. Because of their differences, Clym grows impatient with his wife, just as he did with his mother. The romantic Eustacia shrivels under his unflinching hardness. When she becomes depressed and desperate over her life with Clym on the miserable heath, she feels driven to suicide and jumps into the water.

Clym is close by and fears that it is Eustacia, but when he arrives at the water's edge, he cannot immediately plunge in. Instead, he looks around for a cautious approach to saving the life of his own wife. Unfortunately, he is unsuccessful in rescuing her. As a result, he feels like he has killed her, just like he feels he has killed his mother.

In spite of his hardness, Clym proves that he can adjust to some things. When his eyesight almost fails, he willingly turns to turf and furze cutting and is content enough in his work to go about it singing. Unlike his mother, he does not judge his own worth or that of others by their economic station in life; but he is egotistical enough to judge them against himself.

While Clym is a good and noble man with the courage of his convictions, he is difficult to live with and is to be admired from a distance.

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