To what extent do you think are Fate and Chance an integral part of the tragedy in Hardy’s work The Return of the Native?
Chances are integral party of Hardy’s fictional work. Whether it is novel or poetry, Hardy prefers to include chances in his work. Return of Native is also the same kind of Novel, written by Hardy, in which these two elements are dominant. I think his mindset is that God has given us eyes not see but to weep. There is a strong relations in chances and fate in every novel of this writer. Sometimes critics suspect that it is not the part of fate, which happens but it is an artificial technique used by Hardy to drift the plot. From the beginning till the end, we see there are different occasions, where the role of chances and fate is dominant. We all know that Hardy is pessimist but he goes too far when he tries to use this technique. Similarly, the tragic story discussed in The Return of the Native is more depends on fate and chances than the character’s own fault. Chances happen sudden and they are mysterious at the same time. Sometimes, we don’t expect a thing to happen but it occurs unexpectedly. Hardy’s technique is totally opposite to Newton’s law that every action is a reaction. In Hardy’s point of view, every reaction of action depends on nature, chances as well as fate. Characters themselves are not responsible for their doom but chances are more responsible for their destruction. There are a lot of chances in this novel, which happens without any expectations. Let’s discuss them in detail.
In an occasion, when Diggory goes to propose Thomasin, he reaches there late and see that Wildeve has already proposed her. Thereafter, they get married. In this case, Diggory is just a few minutes late. If he reaches there a few moments earlier, many characters can save themselves from the destruction. If he reaches there on time, maybe he would have married Thomasin and then Wildeve would have married to Eustacia. In this way, Clym would be saved from the destruction. Likewise, another important occasion, Christian, on the way meets some friends and by chance wins the game of dice. After that, when Wildeve knows; Christian has Thomasin’s guineas, he wins them back from him. In the game it was matter of chance that both these things goes in favour of damage.
Apart from these minor elements, there are many other major events, where fate and chances are dominant over character’s freewill. For example. When Clym’s mother Mrs. Yeobright comes to meet her son, at the same time Wildeve comes to meet Eustacia. It is unexpected to come both of them at the same time. Not only their arrival but it is also a matter of chance that Clym, while sleeping, calls “mother” in his dream and Eustacia does not open the door, expecting that Clym has awaken from sleep and will open the door for his mother. Disappointed Mrs. Yeobright, thinking that her son has not opened the door for her, goes back to her home. On the way to home another sudden and tragic event takes place that she has been bitten by the snake and died on the spot.
All these events shows that the role of fate and chances are predominant in the novel. Perhaps, Hardy is trying to prove that man has very less freewill and nature as well as fate is his enemy. Although Hardy is pessimistic yet pessimism is at the peak when all these elements happens suddenly. There are some more events in which role of chances in the novel is dominant and which are unexpected and sudden. Not only in this novel but in many novels of Hardy, letter of any character does not reaches on time. Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Return of the Novel are clear example of this fact. For instance, when Clym writes a reconciliation letter to Euctacia, it does not reaches to her on time.
To conclude the whole discussion, critics are right while criticizing Hardy that his plots are overloaded with chances and fate. More of the chances happens at the wrong moment and they happens just to take the whole plot in a terrible conclusion. On the other hand, some of the critics are impressed by Hardy’s technique. Every writer has his own point view, through which he expresses the events of life and Hardy has also his specific technique to write a story about the hard realities of life and nature as well. It is his exclusive technique and through this technique he imitates life in literary form. Thus, as everyone has his own perspective and way of thinking, therefore, we cannot criticize Hardy because of the usage of this technique. If he uses it, he is master in it. It is another matter that whether he is right or wrong in using this technique, but it is crystal clear that the Return of Native is totally dependent on two main elements and those are fate and chances.