Clym's mother is "a well-known and respected widow of the neighborhood, of a standing which can only be expressed by the word genteel [polite]." The fact that "though her husband [was] a small farmer she herself [is] a curate's daughter" sets her apart from the heath folk and causes them to respect her presence. She is conventional in her views, looking upon material success, for instance, as a mark of a man's worth in life. Not being a woman of means, she can't understand how her son can give up his position in Paris and entertain such a foolish idea as teaching the poor on the heath. When Clym thinks of setting up a school in Budmouth, she immediately takes it as a sign of his coming to his senses.
Her repeated concern over the slight to Thomasin's character and the possible offense to her family because of the delay in Thomasin's marriage to Wildeve says much about her as a person. Appearances and reputation are important to her; she is shocked, for example, by the sight of her son dressed as a furze cutter. She had thought it was only a diversion or hobby for him. Her relationships to Clym and her niece Thomasin are rather austere; she habitually reacts to them by giving advice. The very thing which has sustained her in her widowhood turns out finally to undo her: her inflexibility of judgment. If not for this, she wouldn't have been on the heath at all on the fateful August day. Chance, perhaps, operates to bring Wildeve into Clym's house before her, and as a result she is overly exhausted by the time she starts home. Ironically, she is as hard on herself, often needlessly, as her son is on himself; the very way in which they are alike keeps them apart too long.