Eustacia

EUSTACIA

Eustacia believed that by escaping from Egdon she would be free but the possibility of escape seems little more than a dream.  Whilst she herself seems to be a fascinating phantom of the night, Eustacia is condemned to living in her own dream of the world. She is a figure of absolute isolation:

 ‘There the form stood, motionless as the hill beneath.  Above the plain rose the hill, above the hill rose the barrow, and above the barrow rose the figure.  Above the figure was nothing that could be mapped elsewhere than on a celestial globe.’ (63) in a scene which ‘was strangely homogeneous.’ (63)

The single figure appears as the head and pinnacle, the point of consciousness in which all natural and human history appears to culminate.  In the homogeneous unity, we have an image of the discourse of the continuum.  Everything around the figure of Eustacia appears to derive its validation from her presence.

 ‘The form was so much like an organic part of the entire motionless structure.’ (63) and

 ‘Immobility being the chief characteristic of that whole which the person formed portion of, the discontinuance of immobility in any quarter suggested confusion.’ (63)

To her, Egdon is a prison because she sees in it nothing but the reflection of her own subjectivity.  Even her desperate search for love is nothing but the self-interested quest for the confirmation of her own being.  She is blind to the realities of the world in which she lives because no matter upon what object her gaze falls, she sees only the reflection of herself, of nothing at all, and incomprehensible blankness.

Eustacia has the status of an ‘onlooker’: she is not part of that world, but detached from it; she regards it from a distance.  Silhouetted against the sky, she gazes at the heath through the captain’s telescope.  When the object of her ‘spying’ finally appears she lets

 ‘her joyous eyes rest upon him without speaking, as upon some wondrous thing she had created out of chaos’.

She tells Wildeve that she wanted to get a little excitement

‘by calling you up and triumphing over you as the Witch of Endor called up Samuel.  I determined you should come!  I have shown my power.’

 Thus the Queen of the Night, with her ‘pagan eyes, full of nocturnal mysteries’, calls up her demon lover to revive the embers of Wildeve’s passion.  Eustacia appears both as a mythical witch/succubus and, through her longing for ‘the abstraction called passionate love more than any particular lover’.  At one point, Eustacia loses herself in ‘paganism’, in its ‘maze of motion’ within which she experiences a sensual liberation, when she is surprised by the ‘enchantment of the dance’ which had come

‘like an irresistible attack upon what-ever sense of social order there was in their minds, to drive them back into old paths’.

She fills up her existence by ‘idealising Wildeve for want of a better object’.  Thus not only does Eustacia haunt the heath, she also ‘creates’ her world through her idealising vision.  As she roams over Egdon, she bears with her the twin symbols of space and time, ‘her grandfather’s telescope and her grandmother’s hour glass’.

Eustacia is also the ‘raw material of a divinity ‘with the ‘passions and instincts which made a model goddess’ who could  ‘look like a Sphinx’.  The mythical associations pile up – Athena, Artemis, Hera; Egdon was her Hades, and a ‘true Tartarian dignity sat upon her brow’.  She is a figure from romantic literature who had ‘mentally walked round love, told the towers thereof, considered its palaces’ and who yearned and prayed to be sent a great love ‘else I shall die’.  Biblical temptress, classical divinity, mythical witch, romantic heroine.

Some useful quotes:

×          Stands on ‘the loftiest ground of the loneliest height’  ‘like a spike from a helmet’  (62)

×          ‘an imaginative stranger [might have supposed] it the person of one of the Celts … before dropping into eternal night with the rest of his race.’ (62)

×          Without the figure ‘there was the dome without the lantern’ (63)

×          ‘an organic part of the entire motionless structure’ (63)

×          ‘the woman had no relation to the forms that had taken her place’ (63)

×          ‘the queen of solitude’ (64)

×          ‘a well-favoured maid’ (80)

×          ‘the lonesome dark-eyed creature up there that some say is a witch… is always up to some odd conceit or other’ (101)

×          ‘she was ladylike in her movements’ (104)

×          ‘two matchless lips’ (107)

×          burns the ‘precious thorn roots’ (110)

×          has a ‘little slave’ ‘a mere automaton’ in Johnny Nonsuch (110)

×          ‘She let her joyous eyes rest on him without speaking, as upon some wondrous thing she had created out of chaos (112)

×          Believes Wildeve loves her ‘I knew it was because you loved me best’ (113)

×          Melodramatic gestures e.g.: throwing back the shawl to reveal her ‘face and throat’ (114)

×          ‘thought I would get a little excitement by calling you up as the witch of Endor called up Samuel’ (116)

×          ‘She knew that he trifled with her; but she loved on. (117)

×          ‘the raw material of a divinity’(118)

×          ‘she had the passions and instincts which make a model goddess, that is those that make not quite a model woman’ (118)

×          ‘She had pagan eyes, full of nocturnal mysteries’ (118)

×          You imagined the colour of her soul was ‘flame-like’ (119)

×          Eustacia on the heath: ‘Tis my cross, my shame, and will be my death’ (139)

×          Description 118-124

×          ‘Egdon was her Hades’ (119)

×          ‘’To be loved to madness – such was her great desire’ … ‘And she seemed to long for the abstraction called passionate love more than for any particular lover’ (121)

×          ‘I was too ready to believe in my own power’ (137)

×          ‘any love that she might win would sink simultaneously with the sand in the glass’ (121)

×          she seeks ‘passion from anywhere while it could be won’ (121)

×          ‘The subtle beauties of the heath were lost to Eustacia (123)

×          ‘There was only one circumstance which could dislodge [Wildeve], and that was the advent of a greater man.’ (123)

×          The Vyes ‘were the only genteel people of the district except the Yeobrights’ (142)

×          ‘Like a tiger beetle … but under full illumination blazes with dazzling splendour’ (145)

×          ‘She has come between me and my inclination’ (146)

×          ‘I knew it meant work,’ she said, drooping to languor again. (147)

×          ‘Cessation in his love-making had revived her love.’ (149)

×          Description of Eustacia’s emotions and moral code (149)

×          ‘‘proud though condescending mistress’ (154)

×          Regards Paris as ‘the centre and vortex of the fashionable world.’ (165)

×          Asks herself the riddle ‘what could the tastes of that man be who say friendliness and geniality in these shaggy hills?’ (172)

×          ‘The perfervid woman was by this time half in love with a vision’ (174)

×          She believes Clym ‘could not afford to linger long on Egdon Heath’ (176)

×          On seeing Clym: ‘The effect upon Eustacia was palpable (195)

×          ‘She was troubled in Yeobright’s presence.’ (195)

×          ‘she was in desperate need of loving somebody after wearying of Wildeve’ (198)

×          ‘the queen of love’ (199)

×          ‘a cultivated woman’ (202)

×          she lifts her  ‘deep stormy eyes to the moonlight, and, sighing that tragic sigh’ (203)

×          Venn’s love for Thomasin is beyond her: ‘what a strange sort of love, to be entirely free from that quality of selfishness.’(208)

×          Concerned for Clym’s safety ‘a soft and anxious voice…. ‘She appeared for the moment to forget where she was’ (241)

×          Clym on Eustacia: ‘You are ambitious Eustacia – no, not exactly ambitious, luxurious.’ (258)

×          Eustacia claims: ‘I would rather live with you in a hermitage here than not be yours at all’ (258)

×          Eustacia on Clym: ‘she loved him rather as a visitant from a gay world to which she rightly belonged’ (259)

×          ‘I wish you [Clym] to leave off this shameful labour’ (314)

×          ‘I am to blame for this.  There is evil in store for me.’ (368)

×          ‘You have held my happiness in the hollow of your hand, and like a devil you have dashed it down!’ (390)

×          ‘as if you would bewitch me again’ (393)

×          Charlie on Eustacia: he had hardly deemed her a woman, wingless and earthly’ (398)

×          The pistols (400)

×          Wildeve to Eustacia: ‘You do not deserve what you have got’ … ‘my poor poor girl’ (406)

×          ‘she sobbed on desperately’ (406)

×          She blames Egdon for her ruin (406)

×          In contrast to the reddleman’s first view of Eustacia ‘the bank blotted out her form from his further view’ (408)

×          ‘she appeared for an instant as distinct as a figure in a phantasmagoria – a creature of light surrounded by an area of darkness’ (416)

×          Susan Nonsuch ‘shook her fist at the vanished figure’ (417)

×          ‘’tis like her ill-luck’ (435)

×          ‘her black hair surrounded her brow like a forest’ (443)

×          ‘Three undulating locks of hair which fell over the paper like black streams’ (471)

 

—oOo—

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