Sense of Disillusionment of Life in Thomas Hardy's 'The Return of the Native'

Thomas Hardy has a very pessimistic philosophy of life and his characters also suffer from the disillusionment of their lives. He shows man lives in an indifferent world. The Return of the Native is based on the assumption that man is destined by God to suffer the overwhelming pain and suffering which exits in the world.

All the main characters of The Return of the Native namely- Clym, Eustacis, Wildeve, and Mrs Yeoright have their own aim ambition. But all their plans turn into vain. All of their lives are full of aim. But they are trapped in a series of bitterly ironic events. They are faced with an incomprehensible universe.

The protagonist of the novel, Clym at an early age have been sent to Budmouth and from where he had gone to Paris. In Paris he had placed in trade and he had rise to the position of a manager of a diamond-merchant’s establishment. He is a boy of whom something is always expected. He feels that he has to use his services for the people in Egdon Heath. In order to be of some service to the people, he wants to start a school. His misfortune, semi blindness disables him from executing the educational project.

In his love affair also he was not successful. 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.

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.

Mrs Yeobright, the mother of Clym, is a woman of middle age with well-formed feature. She 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.


Though Wildeve is depicted as a demon here but still he is also the portrayal of disillusionment. In the beginning of the novel, Wildeve responses quickly to Eustacia’s signal fire. It is true that he wishes to marry her. But he could not. And in the later part of the novel he unhesitatingly leaps into the stream with all his clothes on to try to rescue Eustacia. But in this time also he fails and dies.

Analyzing all the above discussed characters 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.