Thursday, June 20, 2013

OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD: The Return of The Native by Thomas Hardy

So I was cleaning out from under the big child's bed and I came across the book The Return of The Native by Thomas Hardy.  It was probably a book the big child was supposed to read for class but it looked like it hadn't been read.  It still had the new book smell of glue.  I decided that I was going to try to read it.

I started reading the first few pages which was this long involved description of the heath that I just couldn't concentrate on.  In desperation I tried the experienced reader's trick of opening the book in a few different spots to observe what the text was like there.  I was able to tell that the story picked up a lot better at some point and that I would be able to read it.

First Impressions:

After the long description of the heath the story proceeds by introducing the colorful characters as they walk about this heath.  This sets the scene as a time before cars. Night falls and the characters do not go home but continue walking around the heath for a special holiday where they light a lot of bonfires.  A romantic tryst is made and people spy on each other as they walk up and down in the dark on this heath. Indeed a good portion of the story takes place in the dark and it reminded me of some stories by Shakespeare while at the same time being reminiscent of a few Woody Allen type movies.

There were lots of big words in the book that I hadn't seen or thought of in years!  However, I was delighted to have to concentrate closely to be able to read it and I actually started to enjoy reading the story.

The Plot:

The youngish Clym Yeobright returns to the so called dreary environment of Egdon Heath after living in glamorous Paris.
He sweeps the local beauty off her feet but then they get married and reality sets in for them. Romantic trysts, love triangles, and misunderstandings lead to tragedy.

What it made me remember: 

It made me remember how many things can happen to people emotionally as a result of arguments and/or misunderstandings.

What the Author wanted to say:

I feel the author wanted to say that reality often does not live up to our dreams, goals, and visions due to circumstances as well as other people having other plans.  In Clym Yeobright's case he blamed himself a little too much for things that happened.  He made himself a villain in his own mind. At the same time he proceeded with his goals although they were going to be slightly different from his original goals due to his personal losses.  Also by revealing the characters strengths as well as their weaknesses none of the characters came off as being more of a villain or heroine then any other. Everyone's faults were involved in the tragedy as the characters stories were intertwined.

Practical life applications:

1.  Don't go out and wander around heaths in the middle of the night during a rainstorm when you are emotionally distraught.  Stay home instead.

2.  Don't spend too much time dwelling about what if's in life.

3.  Wait a situation out a trifle longer instead of giving up because good news may have been delayed or may come in a "letter" soon.

Thomas Hardy is also the author of Tess of The D'Urbervilles among other books, stories and poems.  I had read Tess of The D'Urbervilles a couple of decades ago but didn't remember the author's name from then. 

The Return of The Native was originally published in the year 1878.  I read the Dover Thrift Edition published in 2003.  The story is set in the years between 1840 and 1850. 

Now it's time to find the movie!