The Return of the Native By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Book 3: Chapters 5-6

Summary

When Mrs. Yeobright discovers that Clym and Eustacia are engaged, her comments to him are bitter and typical of those of a mother to a son. Clym tells his mother that he will move out of the house, and when he meets Eustacia he says they must marry right away, though it will mean living in a small cottage on the heath for a few months before he is ready to set up as a schoolteacher in Budmouth. He finds a cottage to rent so that he can have some place to live even before they marry, and moves from his mother's house.

Summary

When Mrs. Yeobright discovers that Clym and Eustacia are engaged, her comments to him are bitter and typical of those of a mother to a son. Clym tells his mother that he will move out of the house, and when he meets Eustacia he says they must marry right away, though it will mean living in a small cottage on the heath for a few months before he is ready to set up as a schoolteacher in Budmouth. He finds a cottage to rent so that he can have some place to live even before they marry, and moves from his mother's house.

After Clym's departure, Thomasin visits Mrs. Yeobright, but is unable to console her. When Wildeve hears of Eustacia's approaching marriage, he immediately wants her again.

Analysis

Hardy says of Thomasin:

In her movements, in her gaze, she reminded the beholder of the feathered creatures who lived around her home. All similes and allegories concerning her began and ended with birds. There was as much variety in her motions as in their flight. When she was musing she was a kestrel, which hangs in the air by an invisible motion of its wings. When she was in a high wind her light body was blown against trees and banks like a heron's. When she was frightened she darted noiselessly like a kingfisher. When she was serene she skimmed like a swallow.

This constitutes a kind of essay on style by the author and is rather unusual in a work of fiction. Elsewhere, Hardy's imagery is full of analogy to local features and nature. (See the section on Style in Critical Analysis.)

Another series of incidents in these chapters reminds us of the consequences of Johnny Nunsuch's coincidental meeting with Venn in Book First. Mrs. Yeobright finally says to Clym, after they have quarreled again about his interest in Eustacia: "I wish that you would bestow your presence where you bestow your love!" As a result of the antagonism between mother and son, several things happen: Clym tells his mother he will move out of the house; he tells Eustacia they must marry at once and can live in a small cottage on the heath; he promises her they will have to live under such conditions only six months "if no misfortune happens"; Clym rents a cottage and moves out of his mother's house even before he marries Eustacia; Mrs. Yeobright is in despair when he does so and cannot be consoled by Thomasin; when he hears the news of the marriage, Wildeve's interest in Eustacia quickly reawakens. All of this happens as the result of a quarrel. As in the case of the incidents mentioned in Book First, chance or perhaps even a more than indifferent governing power in the universe seems, according to Hardy, to disturb the lives of the characters. What we are seeing here, of course, is the theme of the novel.

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