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Word Count: 1,168
The Return of the Native opens with a chapter describing sundown on Egdon Heath the stage upon which the drama of the novel unfolds The heath is a vast tract of unenclosed wild a somber windswept stretch of brown hills and valleys virtually treeless covered in briars and thorn-bushes the storm was its lover and the wind was its friend It is characterized by a chastened sublimity--impressive but not showy grandeur--rather than any obvious aesthetic appeal The heath is described as a place perfectly accordant with mans nature like man slighted and enduring It had a lonely face suggesting tragical possibilities It is an ancient space shaped by nature seemingly impervious to the efforts of man Throughout the novel Egdon Heath serves a major role in plot narrative and characterization It is the driving force behind many characters motives and fears Its capricious whims are deadly at times and beautifully serene at others This volitile nature causes the deaths of several characters while at times aiding others It could be argued that the Heath essentially a big field in the middle of nowhere is the dominant force in the characters livesIt even helps to define the characters as people as the narrator describes their reactions to the Heaths tulmultuous motions For even while the heath as a physical object is described as inviolate untouchable and unalterable by man as a symbol it is highly pliable it becomes what the various characters want to make of it It is ugly for Eustacia Vye beautiful for Clym Yeobright comforting for Thomasin Yeobright and home for Diggory Venn And it is described differently by the narrator at different times depending on the perspective of the character being focused on It is not just the attitudes of the characters that change but in the narrators perspective the entire heath itself that seems changeable It is both an installment of night and an object of delicate intricate beauty
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