The Return of the Native: Mrs Yeobright


(Click for copyrighted Woodcut of Mrs Yeobright by Claire Leighton)

Hardy presents Mrs Yeobright as a country woman but one who has town values.  She is not able to reconcile the irreconcilable – she cannot fathom the problem of and the differences between ‘doing well’ and being.  Her journey is one of loneliness, despair and death.  The thriving life of the heath is juxtaposed (put next to) with her journey from the hut.  Her death is dignified by the boy’s subsequent narration in a passive, casual and innocent voice.

Some useful references to the character appear in my page numbers.  Although your edition will be different, the numbers will give you an indication as to where you will find the quotes.

×          83  84  151  152  170  173  232  248 251  262  303

×          Mrs Yeobright is said to be someone ‘Who had once dreamt of doing better things’ (83)

×          ‘the solitude exhaled from the heath was concentrated in this face that had risen from it’ (83)

×          Her pride is revealed in ‘The air with which she looked at the heathmen [indirectly implied] that in some respect or other they were not up to her level (83)

×          Her normal manner among the heathfolk had that reticence which results from the consciousness of superior communicative power. (83)

×          She enters p 82

×          ‘She…thinks so much of her family respectability’ (95)

×          Her ambitious nature wants Thomasin ‘to look a little higher than a small dairy farmer, and marry a professional man’ (133)

×          ‘Your fancies will be your ruin, Clym’ (233)

×          ‘Good girls don’t get treated as witches even on Egdon’ (237)

×          Both she and Eustacia ironically want Clym to go back to Paris (257)

×          ‘the combination [of the two schemes] was more than she could bear. (261)

×          ‘blank despair (270)

×          described as a bird (271)

×          ‘You have seen a broken-hearted woman cast off by her son’ (350)

×          died on the heath like an animal kicked out’ (375)

×          ‘in [Clym’s memory] she was the sublime saint’ (473]


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