Book 2, Chapters 5 - 8 Notes from Return of the Native

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Return of the Native Book 2, Chapters 5 - 8

The mummers, gathered at the Vyes' to meet before their first performance, wonder where Charley is. Eustacia, disguised in her costume, announces herself as Miss Vye's cousin who is filling in for an absent Charley. The mummers set out for Blooms-End. When they arrive, they hear music and dancing going on inside the house, and have to wait for this to cease before they can go inside. A few of the mummers figure out that the Turkish Knight is really Eustacia, but she lets them believe whatever they want. When they at last go inside the cottage and perform, Eustacia, as the Turkish Knight, is able to lean against the clock-case and observe the room for Clym.

As Eustacia glances around the room, she sees that Thomasin is not present. She spots Grandfer Cantle sitting by the seetle (part of the chimney), and near him, an unfamiliar man, who is Clement Yeobright, better known as Clym. She is pleased with Clym's appearance--he is a handsome man, with an intense gaze. After the play is done, Clym and Mrs. Yeobright offer the mummers food and drink, but Eustacia refuses, for she would have to unmask herself. Clym insists that the lone mummer drink wine, which she finally accepts. As she drinks, she feels mixed emotions about her position--Clym is paying her attention, but this is not the person she wants Clym to see. She wants Clym to be intrigued by her alone, not a phony mummer. Of her emotions, the narrator says:

"She had loved him partly because he was exceptional in this scene, partly because she had determined to love him, chiefly because she was in desperate need of loving somebody after wearying of Wildeve." Book 2, Chapter 6, pg. 108

At the same time, Clym observes the Turkish Knight with interest and wonders if the Knight is really a woman. Eustacia watches jealously as Clym and Thomasin, who suddenly appears, go into a nearby room and talk to each other with great concern and care. She chastises herself for dressing up as a mummer, when Thomasin is right next to Clym, looking as beautiful as she always does. When Clym returns to the main room, he gazes at Eustacia again, this time with intensity and curiosity--even attraction. She feels that she needs to leave the house, which is getting too uncomfortable. Clym follows her and bluntly asks her if she is a woman. Eustacia replies that she is indeed a woman, who dressed up as a mummer to shake off her depressed state of mind. However, she does not reveal her identity to him when he asks. She then leaves.

As Eustacia passes by Rainbarrow, she suddenly remembers that this is the night she was supposed to meet Wildeve and give him her answer. She knows that Wildeve has waited so long in vain for her to appear, but does not care. She angrily scolds herself for hindering Thomasin and Wildeve's marriage--if Thomasin were married to Wildeve by now, Thomasin would not be a potential wife for Clym.

When Eustacia takes her usual walk the next day, she runs into the reddleman, who informs her that Wildeve waited for her last night in their meeting spot under Rainbarrow. Eustacia suspects that Diggory Venn is the other suitor who wants Thomasin's hand in marriage. Venn is shocked when Eustacia declares she wants Wildeve to marry Thomasin. She sends Venn with a note to give to Wildeve. Eustacia is equally surprised when Venn declares he will do whatever it takes for Thomasin to be happy, even if her happiness means marriage to Wildeve. Eustacia does not reveal why she is no longer interested in Wildeve.

That night, Venn gives Eustacia's note to Wildeve, who is shocked and outraged by Eustacia's declaration that she no longer cares for him. Wildeve then sets Venn up. He lies to Venn, saying that Mrs. Yeobright has agreed to Venn's marrying Thomasin. A surprised but happy Venn hurries back to his van to get ready to see Thomasin and Mrs. Yeobright. At the same time, having decided to ask Thomasin to marry him since Eustacia does not want him, Wildeve rushes to the Yeobrights'--he cannot risk being rejected by two women. Before Venn can propose to Thomasin, Wildeve tells him that he has already asked Thomasin to be his wife--and she has agreed.

Thomasin tells her aunt that she is to marry Wildeve the day after the next at his church. They agree that she must marry as soon as possible, for Clym has heard of the rumors and has written to his mother about the humiliation of Thomasin's jilted wedding (Clym is not home--he has gone to visit a friend). Thomasin and Mrs. Yeobright are discussing the wedding when Diggory Venn arrives. To Thomasin's surprise, Venn has come to propose to her, but Mrs. Yeobright tells him that he is too late.

On the day of Thomasin's wedding, she takes great care with her appearance; she braids her hair in seven strands (the more important the day, the more strands the heath-women braid their hair in) and dresses in her fancy blue silk dress.

Topic Tracking: Heath Customs 5

Thomasin decides to go to the church alone, to Mrs. Yeobright's great reluctance. Mrs. Yeobright weeps at the painful separation from her niece. However, Mrs. Yeobright is distracted from the thought of Thomasin's wedding when she spots Clym far in the distance on his way home. Clym, upset that neither Thomasin nor his mother has told him of Thomasin's relationship with Wildeve, decides to go to the church and offer his congratulations to the married couple. He feels terrible that no one in their family has gone to support Thomasin on her wedding day. However, Clym is stopped along the way by Diggory Venn. He tells the Yeobrights that Thomasin and Wildeve are indeed married--he has witnessed the wedding. Mrs. Yeobright is surprised to hear that Eustacia Vye had given Thomasin away. Clym asks who Eustacia is; his mother tells him that she is from Budmouth and some of the heath inhabitants believe that she is an evil witch. Venn explains to them that Eustacia had been the only person available to give Thomasin away. What he does not know about the wedding is that Eustacia is perfectly satisfied that Thomasin is married (and therefore no longer a rival for Clym) and tells Wildeve in private that he deserves Thomasin.

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