The Return of the Native: Style
The Return of the Native is Thomas Hardy’s sixth novel and probably his best known. The story focuses on the lives and loves of residents in the fictional county of Wessex, England, an area which was based on the rural area where Hardy was raised. The narrative style of the novel is different to that of the traditional writing. He uses different narrative mechanisms in making it attractive to its readers. His different approach towards the treatment different components, ‘point of view’, ‘structure’, ‘symbolism’ as well as ‘setting’, demands appreciation.
This novel is told from the third-person point of view, which means that the narrator is a disembodied voice, referring to each character as “he” or “she.” However, the narrative is not omniscient. This means that the narrator looks at the story unfolding from different points of view, but when it settles on any particular viewpoint it stays consistent, if only for a short amount of time. When new information is introduced into the story, the information is initially understood only in terms of the narrator’s point of view at the time. For instance, when Wildeve first appears, readers are not told who he is; his character is revealed by what he says. Clym is a mystery for Eustacia to fantasize about long before his thoughts are related. In fact, even when they do talk outside of the Christmas party, the narrative shifts from her perspective to his then back to hers. Giving readers access to just one person’s experience at a time is called “limited omniscience.” By limiting the flow of information to the reader, Hardy is able to create a sense of mystery in the story. This is accomplished because the motivations and intentions of the characters are not always immediately clear. When Hardy wants to convey theories and opinions, he frequently presents a scene in which several of the local characters are gathered together and talking while doing something else. This occurs in...
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