16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
'A face on which time leaves little impression',
By A Customer
This review is from: The Return of the Native (Modern Library Classics) (Paperback)
Egdon Heath is the wild and hostile environment in which Hardy's tale of love and loss takes place. The setting of the novel is inescapable and its influence so strong that the heath is almost a character in itself. The action of the novel focusses around three men and three women; Clym Yeobright, Diggory Venn and Damon Wildeve and Mrs Yeobright (Clym's mother), her niece Thomasin whom she has adopted and Eustacia Vye. The other charcters in the novel are the heath people who form a greek chorus to the novel and are occasionally used as instigators of the action. The main theme of the novel is doomed love and the way in which the characters are unable to escape their destiny. It is also interesting to note that the ending to the novel was not the one Hardy inteneded, he had intended to end it after the scene by Shadwater weir. However, his publishers demanded a more positive ending and one which I feel slightly undermines the power of the novel. Most editions have a footnote at the point where Hardy had intended to finish, allowing readers to choose which ever ending they prefer.
Hardy's characterisation is highly realistic in that the boundaries between 'good' and 'bad' characters are somewhat fluid. He also explores the idea of the 'fatal flaw' and how people inevitably destroy themselves and those they hold most dear. If you're looking for a 'feel-good' novel this is not the one to go for but if you enjoy enjoy novels like Wuthering Heights and Tess of the Durbervilles then place your order now...