One of Hardy's classic statements about modern love, courtship, and
marriage, The Return of the Native is set in the pastoral village
of Egdon Heath. The fiery Eustacia Vye, wishing only for passionate
love, believes that her escape from Egdon lies in her marriage to
Clym Yeobright, the returning "native, " home from Paris and
discontented with his work there. Clym wishes to remain in Egdon,
however -- a desire that sets him in opposition to his wife and
brings them both to despair. Behind the narrative of The Return of
the Native lie the tragic fates of Flaubert's Madame Bovary and
Oedipus, and in writing the novel Hardy endowed his ordinary
characters with the status of tragic heroes, seen especially in the
ill-fated lovers and Damon Wildeve, who spoil their chances to
master their own destinies.
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