The Return of the Native: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. The great inviolate place had an ancient permanence which the sea cannot claim.
    p. 7 This reference appears in the first chapter and alludes to Egdon Heath. The unspoiled timelessness and wildness of the heath are central features of the novel and are used to epitomize the untamed land prior to modernity.
  2. He was one of a class rapidly becoming extinct in Wessex, filling at present in the rural world the place which, during the last century, the dodo occupied in the world of animals. He is a curious, interesting, and nearly perished link between obsolete forms of life and those which generally prevail.
    p. 9 In this quotation, Venn the reddleman is referred to as a symbol of the passing rural world and because he is honorable, the lost past comes to be seen in a nostalgic way. This occupation is later described as being made redundant by the advent of the railways.
  3. To be loved to madness – such was her great desire. Love was to her the one cordial which could drive away the eating loneliness of her days. And she seemed to long for the abstraction called passionate love more than for any particular lover.
    p. 79 Eustacia’s love for love is described here and it is apparent that her romantic notions help ward off loneliness. Furthermore, her desire for love is more of an abstract emotion in that it is not dependant on another.
  4. To be yearning for the difficult, to be weary of that offered; to care for the remote, to dislike the near; it was Wildeve’s nature always. This is the true mark of the man of sentiment.
    p. 253-4 This reference captures the unsettled state of Wildeve, who, like Eustacia, is also in love with the idea of love. He is also seen to prefer obstacles being in his path rather than enjoying a relationship.
  5. Incongruity between the men’s deeds and their environment was great.
    p. 275 As Wildeve and Venn gamble on the heath, the difference between their ‘deeds’ and the heath is made. The former implies wastefulness, modernity and human interruption whereas the latter is the untouched wilderness.
  6. I have felt more steam and smoke of that sort than you have ever heard of. But the more I see of life the more do I perceive that there is nothing particularly great in its greatest walks, and therefore nothing particularly small in mine of furze-cutting.
    p. 302 Clym explains to Eustacia in this quotation why he sees nothing wrong in furze cutting. Whereas she sees it as a step down the social ladder, he demonstrates that he does not value this system of classification.
  7. [yes;] but the worst of it is that though Paul was excellent as a man in the Bible he would hardly have done in real life.
    p. 334 Eustacia tells Wildeve why Clym may be admirable, but is too admirable for ‘real life’.
  8. May all murderesses get the torment they deserve.
    p. 384 Here, Clym curses Eustacia for what he thinks is her betrayal of him. It is also a prophetic statement considering Eustacia’s death from drowning.
  9. Eustacia read them long, as if they were the page of a book in which she read a new and strange matter.
    p. 397 Eustacia has just noticed her grandfather’s pistols at this juncture and is considering committing suicide.
  10. Such a rare plant in such a wild place it grieves me to see.
    p. 405 Wildeve is one of the few to show Eustacia understanding and empathy as both hate the wilderness they live in. The description of her as a wild plant is also fitting as she is deemed too precocious to thrive there.

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