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Word Count: 700
Analysis Contemporary readers tend to take for granted the notion that literature does not convey or even attempt to convey absolute truth Since the modernist movement at the beginning of the 20th century literature has tended to pose questions rather than define answers One of the hallmarks of modern literature can be said to be unreliability authors and readers recognize that literature is difficult it is not to be trusted or to be taken at its face value In 1878 when The Return of the Native was first published ambiguity was hardly understood to be the cornerstone of the novelistic edifice And yet while The Return of the Native is formally conventional thematically it thrives on doubt and ambiguity With its extensive narrative description abundant classical and scriptural references and stylized dialogue the book adheres closely to the high Victorian style Thematically however the novel is original and ingenious not trusting perceptions the book questions moral and ethical truths implying the superiority of relative to absolute truth It is an eminently unreliable novel peopled with unreliable characters even its narrator cannot be trusted Take for instance the example of Egdon Heath the first character introduced into the book The heath proves physically and psychologically important throughout the novel characters are defined by their relation to the heath and the weather patterns of the heath even reflect the inner dramas of the characters Indeed it almost seems as if the characters are formed by the heath itself Diggory Venn red from head to toe is an actual embodiment of the muddy earth Eustacia Vyeseems to spring directly from the heath a part of Rainbarrow itself when she is first introduced Wildeves name might just as well refer to the wind-whipped heath itself But importantly the heath manages to defy definition It is in chapter one a place perfectly accordant with mans nature The narrators descriptions of the heath vary widely throughout the novel ranging from
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