29 Jul 2021

The Role of Fate and Chance in Hardy Novel The Return of the Native


The Return of the Native

By Thomas Hardy

The Role of Fate and Chance

Fate and chance play an important role in Hardy s’ all novel. His plots are governed by ‘Fatalism’ and ‘Determination’. In his novels human beings are puppet in the hands of fate and chance. Fate and chance are always hostile to good of man. In the context of Hardy s’ novel fate means all the powers and factors to which man is impotent and helpless. Shakespeare s’ these lines fit on Hardy s’ novel:


As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods

They kill us for their sport.


Fate takes the form of heredity and impulses in man. Hardy always traces the heredity of a character. Fate determines the nature of a person. By nature Eustacia is sad and gloomy and she is unable to alter it. Tess is pure and innocent but she suffers a spiritual conflict. Oak is sincere but tactless in dealing with his love. Fate takes the form of love. As per Hardy love is the only source of enjoyment in life but when two lovers of opponent impulses meet, their love ends in deadly consequences. If Eustacia loved Wildeve and Thomasin loved Clym, the tragedy of ‘The Return of the Native’ would have been avoided.

Fate also works externally, usually it assumes three forms: i) nature    ii) circumstances and iii) chance. Henchard s’ hopes of a good harvest are shattered by bad weather. Eustacia and Wildeve cannot fulfill their plans due to harsh and stormy weather. Throughout the novel Venn remains poor as the area lacks resources. The exhausting heat of Egdon Heath kills Mrs. Yeobright and participate the tragedy in The Return of the Native.


Fate uses chance as a tool to push the character into a tragedy. In novel Tess of D’ Urbervilles, Tess is forced to go to Mrs. D’ Urbervilles because the horse dies accidently and this sets the tragedy of her life. When Mrs. Yeobright goes to call on Clym, by chance Wildeve is with Eustacia who does not open the door for the fear of being caught. Mrs. Yeobright returns and meets her tragic end. Now it is known that ‘chance’ plays an important role in Hardy s’ all novels.


Hardy acknowledges that the use of chance is justified in a work of art. Life is full of chances. “Strange conjunctions of circumstances, partially those of a trivial nature, are so frequent in an ordinary life that we grow used their accountableness.” As per Hardy we are in the hands of blind and erratic fate. We are unable to know how this fate will work at certain moments, and it is indifferent to man s’ sorrow and happiness.


Many of the critics are of the view that fate is a dominant force in Hardy s’ all novel and his characters are the victim of cruel fate. They are quite helpless against the working force of fate. Eustacia accidently meets Wildeve in a dance party. Mrs. Yeobright happens to choose an overwhelming hot day to meet Clym. Eustacia happens to escape from the heath on a stormy night and they meet their tragedy. Eustacia forces Clym to go back to Paris but he denies to do so and secedes to open a school in the heath. So we see that fate is a dominant force in this novel





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