The Role of Fate in Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native

Thomas Hardy expresses a fatalistic view of life in his tragic novel The Return of the Native. He depicts human actions as subject to the control of an impersonal force- destiny or fate. Chance ad coincidence drives the life and man has no right to change its way. In this aspect we find that the vision of life that Hard gives in The Return of the Native is essentially tragic and in characterization Hardy is similar to the Greek tragedians


The character in Hardy’s novel does not have control over their lives. Hardy believes that characters are governed by fate.

It is fate that brings Eustacia and Clym together. Eustacia hears from Charley that the Christmas mummers will be performing at the Yeobrights', and she schemes to meet Clym by performing as a mummer. Clym also takes advantage of fate to meet Eustacia. He learns from Sam that Captain Vye's bucket has fallen and that the heath-men are convening to fetch his bucket. Clym joins the rescue team so that he might meet Eustacia. With the passing of time Clym proposes to Eustacia. She asks for time to think it over and begs him to talk about Paris. She tells him that she will marry him if he will take her back to Paris. Clym is destined to do far greater things with his life than staying on the heath, Eustacia believes, although Clym disagrees. Eustacia suddenly decides to marry him


Clym feels that he has to use his services for the people in Egdon Heath. He has vowed to stay on the heath and become a schoolteacher. In order to be of some service to the people, he wants to stay in the Heath. His misfortune, semi blindness disables him from executing the educational project.

Clym is very much attracted by the charm and beauty of Eustacia. Ignoring his mother’s strong opposition he takes a cottage at Alderworth, several miles away from Blooms-End. But the utter incompatibility of temperaments had foredoomed their marriage.

Accidentally he loses his mother also. That means Clym’s misfortune drives him to a painful life.

The heroine of the novel, Eustacia was fully aware of the beauty, which nature has bestowed upon her. She didn’t care about what people may tell about her. She can’t bear the loneliness that heath has. She says, “Tis my cross, my shame and will be my death”. Eustacia dreamed of a life in Paris. She hopes that if she marries, Clym he may take her to Paris. She has fascination for the pompous city life. But Clym on the other hand wants to settle in Edgon. So she had to stay in Heath. In the later part of the novel she tries to escape from the Edgon Heath with the help of Wildeve. Coincidentally Clym writes Eustacia a letter begging her to return to him - but he sends the letter too late. Eustacia does not see the letter before she leaves to flee with Wildeve. If she had, she might have no die like this.That means her death in Heath was also predestined.


Mrs Yeobright vehemently opposes the plans of Clym to start a school. She wants Clym to go back in Paris because there he has a respectable job. She had brought up her with great care and devotion. She also strongly opposes not to marry Eustacia. She says, “Is it best for you to injure your prospects for such a voluptuous, idle woman as that?” But nothing could restrict her son from staying in the Heath or marrying Eustacia.

She was shocked, for example, by the sight off her son dressed as a furze cutter. She could not believe her eyes. She had thought it was only a diversion or hobby for him.

Again she resolves to reconcile with her son. But she never gets the chance to reconcile with her son and she dies. That means none of her effort can restrict her misfortune.

Clym is devastated by the deaths of his wife and mother, believing that he drove them to their deaths. He thinks that fate is cruel to him, for taking his life in this direction.

From the above discussion we can say that man is thus posited to be the source of the cosmic but the cosmic is considered to be too complex for human understanding.