Coprighted illustration: Leighton woodcut
Those who live and labour on Egdon perceive it quite differently from Eustacia. When Thomasin goes out into the same raging storm, her perception is totally unlike Eustacia’s.
‘The drops which lashed her face were not scorpions, but prosy rain; Egdon in the mass was no monster whatever, but impersonal open ground. Her fears of the place were rational, her dislikes of its worst moods reasonable. At this time it was in her view a windy, wet place, in which a person might experience much discomfort, lose the path without care, and possibly catch cold.’
It is this perception which is finally reasserted. Unlike Eustacia, Thomasin does not generally get lost on the heath because of:
‘her general knowledge of the contours, which was scarcely surpassed by Clym’s or by that of the heath-croppers themselves’.
But she does in Book V when she meets Diggory.
The ‘natives’ embody experiential knowledge of the heath. Unlike Eustacia they see Egdon as a work place. As they bend to their work what they see in Egdon’s grim old face is something that is
‘neither ghastly, hateful, nor ugly; neither commonplace, unmenting nor tame’, but, like themselves, ‘slighted and enduring’.
Some useful quotes:
× ‘A fair, sweet and honest country face.’ (89)
× ‘She’s above mating with such as I’ (Diggory 60/87)
× ‘Must be a fool to tear her smock for a man [Wildeve] like that’ (74)
× ‘I am nothing to her’ (Diggory 61) ‘She seemed to belong rightly to a madrigal – to require viewing through rhyme and harmony’ (89)
× ‘I know how wrong it was of me to love him’ (92)
× ‘The woman you’ve got is dimant’ (98)
× ‘Thomasin is a pleasing and an innocent woman’ (Wildeve 114)
× ‘a confoundedly good little woman’ (Wildeve 137)
× ‘and I shall marry him.’ (138)
× Rustics pity her ‘poor maid’ (164)
× Wonders how Clym’s ‘face looks now .. gazing abstractedly’ (166)
× ‘And I shall marry him’ (169)
× At one with the heath: ‘shook from her hair and dress the loose berries which had fallen thereon’ (170)
× Clym’s letter decides Thomasin to marry Wildeve ‘ under any circumstances.’ I don’t believe in hearts at all’ (213)
× A pale blue spot in a vast field of neutral brown (217)
× Bird imagery ‘All smiles concerning her began and ended with birds’ (271) and she illuminates heath.
× ‘the pure sweet face of Thomasin’ (328)
× ‘in that sweet voice of hers which came to a sufferer like fresh air into a Black Hole.’ (374)
× Thomasin humble in grief (447)
× ‘The drops which lashed her face were not scorpions, but prosy rain’ (430)