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 A Few Discussion Questions

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Kelley
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PostSubject: A Few Discussion Questions   Mon Apr 16, 2007 12:56 am

1. Try to characterize the nature of the love relationships that fill this novel. Are there any true love affairs in the novel? Does the novel even believe in the possibility of these affairs' success?

2. Based on the evidence provided in The Return of the Native, do you think Thomas Hardy has a negative or positive view of human nature? Of the future of civilization?

3. In what ways does Egdon Heath function as an important force--perhaps even another character--within The Return of the Native? Is it a sinister force?

4. Who are the heroes in this novel? Who are the villains? Are there any truly sympathetic characters in the novel? Why or why not?

5. What role do superstition, pagan culture and fantasy play in this novel? In what ways is the novel at times more naturalistic?

6. What is the relationship of the narrator to his characters? (What type of narrator is he? Is he an omniscient narrator? Does he make moral or aesthetic judgments?)

7. In some sense, The Return of the Native can be read a commentary on the conflict between modern ideas and attitudes--represented by the returning native, Clym Yeobright--and the more primitive and pagan attitudes of the heath-dwellers. What do you think is the novel's attitude towards modernity?

8. Is Clym Yeobright portrayed as an admirable character? Does he get what he deserves?

9. What is Hardy's attitude towards the residents of the heath? Does he condescend to them? Does he valorize them?

10. At the end of The Return of the Native, Hardy writes in a footnote that the marriage of Thomasin and Diggory Venn was not the originally planned ending to the novel. He asks the reader to choose the more "consistent" end for him- or herself. Which do you think is the more consistent, credible and/or pleasing end to the novel?
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Kelley
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PostSubject: Re: A Few Discussion Questions   Tue May 01, 2007 3:49 pm

1. Try to characterize the nature of the love relationships that fill this novel. Are there any true love affairs in the novel? Does the novel even believe in the possibility of these affairs' success?

No character actually seems to be in love except Venn's love for Thomasin and Charley's love for Eustacia. The rest of the characters seemed motivated by passion, convienence, and cultural expectations.

2. Based on the evidence provided in The Return of the Native, do you think Thomas Hardy has a negative or positive view of human nature? Of the future of civilization?

I think that Hardy tried to portray people as they are, flawed. All of the characters had major down falls and redeeming qualities. They made good decisions and bad, they were realistic characters. The point seems to be more that of accountability and coincidence then general civilization.

3. In what ways does Egdon Heath function as an important force--perhaps even another character--within The Return of the Native? Is it a sinister force?

I like that Egdon Heath and the weather in that area reflected what was going on with the characters, it made the story more dramatic. (The rainstorm at the climax, or the sunsets, the overbearing heat.)

4. Who are the heroes in this novel? Who are the villains? Are there any truly sympathetic characters in the novel? Why or why not?

I thought that some characters were easy to define and others not quite so. Wildeve was no doubt a villian, and I felt that Venn was clearly a good guy, but the rest of the characters were a little of both (mentioned above).

5. What role do superstition, pagan culture and fantasy play in this novel? In what ways is the novel at times more naturalistic?

6. What is the relationship of the narrator to his characters? (What type of narrator is he? Is he an omniscient narrator? Does he make moral or aesthetic judgments?)

The narrator has an interesting point of view, he is able to see parts of each character, their private actions and thoughts, but at crucial moments he does not reveal the 'truth' of what happened or is thought. (allowing the reader to draw her own conclusions) He does seem to make judgements, but not out right. I felt as if his word choice and sentence structures often led me to feel one way or another about a character or the choice that they made. (I will try to find an example)


7. In some sense, The Return of the Native can be read a commentary on the conflict between modern ideas and attitudes--represented by the returning native, Clym Yeobright--and the more primitive and pagan attitudes of the heath-dwellers. What do you think is the novel's attitude towards modernity?

8. Is Clym Yeobright portrayed as an admirable character? Does he get what he deserves?

Clym really seemed to be a weenie to me. He had the potential to do many things, but really just puttered around, he definitely wasn't very motivated. His wife was difficult, but he didn't make an effort to make her happy, get her back, or end her affair. Similarly was his situation with his mother. I do feel like he got what he deserved, a half hearted congregation, that was kind because of his history not his lecture, which really sums up Clym's life.

9. What is Hardy's attitude towards the residents of the heath? Does he condescend to them? Does he valorize them?

10. At the end of The Return of the Native, Hardy writes in a footnote that the marriage of Thomasin and Diggory Venn was not the originally planned ending to the novel. He asks the reader to choose the more "consistent" end for him- or herself. Which do you think is the more consistent, credible and/or pleasing end to the novel?

I think that the marriage of the two characters was consistent with the idea of characters getting what they deserved, but was not consistent with Hardy's writing style that leaves main points unanswered. He often seems to want the reader to draw her own conclusions about the characters based on the information previously provided, the end seemed to tidy for Hardy.
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Karen

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PostSubject: Re: A Few Discussion Questions   Sun May 13, 2007 10:23 pm

1. Try to characterize the nature of the love relationships that fill this novel. Are there any true love affairs in the novel? Does the novel even believe in the possibility of these affairs' success?
The love the reddleman had for Tamsin was true, but she did not recognize it for some time. the others all had a flaw, sometimes many, but, i think for the times in which the book was written, many people married for convenience, whether social or for money or just within their respective groups because that was what was expected. marying for love was an anomoly.


Who are the heroes in this novel? Who are the villains? Are there any truly sympathetic characters in the novel? Why or why not? I felt sympathy for thomasin, but i grew tired of her passivity. i felt symathy for her aunt, but grew tired of her emddlesomeness. the biggest villian in my mind, was Eustacia. I enjoyed poor, scared of the dark, christian, whom no woman would ever look at!


Is Clym Yeobright portrayed as an admirable character? Does he get what he deserves? He seems admirable at first and i had hoped his school would be successfl.He had good intentions, but got mired by the clutches of a bad woman!
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