The Return of the Native | Study Guide

Thomas Hardy

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The Return of the Native | Book 2, Chapters 7–8 : The Arrival | Summary



Chapter 7: A Coalition between Beauty and Oddness

The morning after the Yeobrights' party, Eustacia converses briefly with her grandfather and tells him of her adventure as a mummer. He laughs at the tale but warns her not to do it again. Later that day she meets Diggory and learns Wildeve had attempted to keep their rendezvous at Rainbarrow and had waited a long time for her. Eustacia tells Diggory that she would now be very glad to promote a marriage between Thomasin and Wildeve. Surprised, Diggory agrees to deliver a letter from Eustacia to Wildeve when the latter reappears at Rainbarrow that very evening. Eustacia craftily refuses to disclose to Diggory why she takes an interest in the matter.

That night at Rainbarrow, Diggory delivers Eustacia's letter, in which she definitively cuts Wildeve off. Wildeve and Diggory spar in a derisive dialogue, with Wildeve apparently besting him, at least for the moment.

Spurred by comments from both Eustacia and Wildeve saying he was himself in the running for Thomasin's hand, Diggory puts on his best, unstained clothing and goes to Blooms-End. As he arrives, Wildeve is leaving, triumphant in having claimed his bride. Diggory stays to talk with Mrs. Yeobright, who sends him away disappointed.

Chapter 8: Firmness Is Discovered in a Gentle Heart

Just after Wildeve leaves their house, Thomasin and Mrs. Yeobright continue to discuss Thomasin's wedding and Wildeve's intentions. Thomasin has received a letter from her cousin Clym, away on a visit to friends, voicing concerns over Thomasin's engagement and the rumors swirling around it. Wildeve had asserted that the wedding should be held as swiftly as possible. He had refused to enter the house, however, since he feels estranged from Mrs. Yeobright. As the women talk, Diggory Venn arrives and is turned away by Mrs. Yeobright.

Thomasin firmly declares to her aunt that she wants to be married before Clym returns and that she does not want Mrs. Yeobright to give her away at the wedding. Despite their estrangement over this matter, Thomasin and her aunt embrace before the young woman leaves for her wedding.

Clym returns home and receives an account of the wedding from Diggory, who informs him that Eustacia gave the bride away. Diggory, however, was too distant to see the contentious exchange of looks and murmurs between Wildeve and Eustacia at the wedding ceremony.


These chapters are especially notable for Hardy's skillful use of dialogue. In Chapter 7, for example, Eustacia's cunning is juxtaposed with Diggory Venn's forthright unselfishness in their conversation about the prospective marriage between Thomasin and Wildeve. While she maneuvers, Eustacia is struck by Diggory's selflessness: "The reddleman's disinterestedness was so well deserving of respect that it overshot respect by being barely comprehended; and she almost thought it absurd." In contrast to Diggory, Eustacia's newfound, vigorous promotion of the match is motivated by her desire to eliminate Thomasin as a rival for Clym's affections. Later in the chapter, Diggory must engage in verbal sparring with Damon Wildeve.

In Chapter 8, Hardy re-emphasizes Mrs. Yeobright's tendencies of self-pity and social snobbery in her conversations with Thomasin and with Clym. Perhaps the most dramatic incident in this chapter is Diggory Venn's account of Thomasin's wedding, as he converses with Mrs. Yeobright. Here, Hardy mingles pathos with heavy irony. The sadness of Diggory, as one who had hoped to court Thomasin, is palpable, while the situational irony of Eustacia giving Thomasin away at the ceremony is all too clear to the reader. Eustacia is clearly delighted that Thomasin is now ineligible to "vie" with her for Clym.

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