Universial Themes in "The Return of the Native" and "Great Expectations"
Classic novels usually share in the aspect of universal themes which touch people through out the ages. All types of audiences can relate to and understand these underlying ideas. Victorian novels such as Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native and Charles Dickens' Great Expectations are examples of literary classics that have universal themes. Hardy's tale illustrates the role of chance in his characters lives. Through the story we encounter events of pure coincidence and their effects. Dickens, considered to be more of a reformer (Literature Online), tries to portray a social theme in his novel. The basic theme of Great Expectations is that good does not come from ones social standing but rather comes from their inner value. These novels are considered classics because of their timeless themes.
Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native displays a theme of chance. Book First, chapter 8 contains a perfect example. Eustacia persuades young Johnny Nunsuch into helping her feed a fire. She dismisses him and begins to walk home. Before reaching home, he is frightened by the light coming from the heath and returns to discover Wildeve meeting with Eustacia. By pure chance, Venn discovers the boy and quizzes him.
"Then I came down here, and I was afeard, and I went back; but I didn't like to speak to her, because of the gentleman, and I came on here again" [Johnny Nunsuch]
" A gentleman--ah! What did she say to him, my man?" [Diggory Venn]
"Told him she supposed he had not married the other woman because he liked his old sweetheart best; and things like that" [Johnny Nunsuch]
[Book First, chapter 8, pp. 82]
This chance exchange reveals that Wildeve is meeting with Eustacia. Venn uses this to his advance by announcing himself to Mrs. Yeobright as a suitor for Thomasin. This backfires because Mrs. Yeobright tries to use the second suitor to force Wildeve to marry...
Cited: Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations, New York: New York Scholastic Inc., 1957
Hardy, Thomas. The Return of the Native, New York: New York Nal Penguin Inc.,
Thompson, Frank H. Cliff Notes on Hardy 's The Return of the Native
Nebraska: Lincoln Cliff Notes Inc., 1966
http://www.literature.org Literature Online, Internet Site Resource providing
criticism on literary works.
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