Tragic Dimensions in "The Return of the Native" by Thomas Hardy

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The Male Ego systematically deprives the female selves to come into their own. Both the novels teem with instances of the woman characters stripped of their elemental self-respect. The male protagonists seem to thrive by the downfall and deprivation of the woman. In "The Return of the Native", Eustacia, Thomasin and Mrs Yeobright area depictions of this tormented, defeated woman.

Eustacia is study of immense depth and profundity of the female self and the sheer hopelessness of the woman against the male oppressors. Her relentless longing to escape the heath may be seen as the subconscious desire to escape the dark dominant instincts of her male oppressors of which heath is the visible emblem and manifestation. In his "Study of Thomas Hardy"' Lawrence sees Eustacia as a natural aristocrat, identifying her with the dark, pristine abysmal powers in nature.

Eustacia seems to lead a silent rebellion against the male dominated society, its conventions and ethical systems.

Like other women characters in the novel, her rebellion is doomed to be suppressed and defeated by the male chauvinistic society. Death in the waters of weir is natural logical end of her rebellion. The very opening scene of the novel casts Eustacia in a different light isolated from the general stream of the humanity at Heath.

In her act of lighting the private bonfire, James Gindin, discerns the beginning of this rebellion:

'Eustacia's rebellion, her use of the bonfire for personal reasons, places her outside the normal community on the heath, a community for whom the bonfire is public, ceremonial, and connected with a set of established traditions.'7

John Paterson identifies Eustacia as a character with an inherent potency to eschew the Patriarchal culture. She is the symbol of violent uncultivated primeval self of nature:

'In being converted from daughter to grand-daughter, she...