The Return of the Native By Thomas Hardy Study Help Essay Questions

1. Analyze the way Hardy presents the heath dwellers in the novel (Fairway, the Cantles, Humphrey, Sam, etc.). Include such things as personality, occupation, topics of conversation, and opinions of life and people.

2. Find some of the superstitions the heath dwellers believe in, and explain what these reveal about them and their view of life.

3. Several proverbs or bits of folk wisdom are repeated by the heath folk. What kinds of truth or wisdom or even ignorance do these reveal?

4. Eustacia is said to be attractive to men. In what ways is this shown, and what does she have that Thomasin does not?

5. Develop a contrast between Clym and Wildeve as lovers and as husbands. In what specific ways are they attractive to women; in what ways, qualified to be successful husbands?

6. Write a character sketch of either Thomasin or Wildeve. Try to include what Hardy does, for instance, in his set piece on Eustacia in Book First, chapter 7.

7. How much of a full-fledged character is Diggory Venn? Discuss the way he is presented as you would any main character, and then answer the question.

8. Analyze the kind of mother Mrs. Yeobright is by showing how she acts toward Clym, especially in situations of great stress. Her relationship to Thomasin might also be included, since she is substitute mother for the young woman.

9. Contrast Clym's idealism with Eustacia's romanticism. Make clear the basis on which you develop the contrast.

10. Analyze Hardy's use of foreshadowing in the plot of the novel. For instance, how does he handle the foreshadowing of Clym's eventual estrangement from his mother?

11. Collect several instances of Venn's use as a connector in the furthering of the plot; then, explain how his actions do in fact advance the story.

12. Explain why the scenes in Book Fifth, chapters 7-9 are melodramatic by analysis of the details by which they are developed.

13. Analyze the way Hardy describes the physical setting of his novel, Egdon Heath. Look especially at the way in which he has Clym observe its natural features.

14. In Book Fourth, chapters 5 and 6, the heath is an active agent in Mrs. Yeobright's fate. Find another such instance in which Egdon Heath acts upon human beings, and analyze its use in the novel.

15. Trace the history of the relationship between Thomasin and Wildeve as a reflection of the structure of the novel.

16. Justify the idea that Mrs. Yeobright's death is the main point at which the curve of expectation by which the novel's structure has been described begins to fall.

17. Rainbarrow has been discussed as a symbol. Of what significance in its symbolic use is the fact that it is a Celtic burial mound?

18. Is the fact that Venn is red in color for most of the novel of any symbolic significance? If so, explain.

19. Collect several instances of irony not already mentioned, and relate them to the theme of the novel.

20. Some of Hardy's figures of speech do not use local reference. Find several, and show what kinds of references are used to effect the analogies. If they are used for characters in the novel, explain their appropriateness.

21. What kinds of historical and/or mythological allusions does Hardy use? And when does he use them?

22. Develop an argument, with evidences, for or against the idea that Eustacia Vye is the main character in the novel. Try to be fair in the light of Hardy's intentions.

23. Suppose you rewrote Hardy's novel so that it was told strictly from the point of view of, say, Clym. How would your novel differ from his? Be as specific as you can.

24. What would happen to his novel if you retold it from Eustacia's point of view, so that everything that happens is seen through her eyes?

25. Write an essay defending or attacking Hardy's addition of a sixth book to the original conception of five. Make clear the grounds on which you argue. Consider, for example, whether the addition was made solely to give Thomasin a happy future.

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How does Clym respond to his mother’s death?




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