Critical Essays Irony in The Return of the Native


Irony is a literary device in which the difference between intention and performance is shown. It is an effect that figures heavily in Hardy's novel. The theme itself contains irony, because man can never know just what sort of universe he lives in. If a man is convinced, for example, that the gods are indifferent to his aspirations and his life, he may be wrong. Eustacia's despair may well be caused by a mistaken view of what life is like. As a consequence, her view of things becomes one of the causes for her despair, though she looks upon it rather as a symptom. To take an extreme case, Hardy himself may have been quite wrong in his way of looking at life. Indeed, any view of humanity in relation to the universe is susceptible of irony.