Sub: English Topic: Rustic Characters
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Role of Rustic Characters in Hardy's The Return of the Native
Rustic characters figure in almost all the novels of Thomas Hardy, except in the last two, Tess and Judethe obscure. These rustic characters are a part of the background and are necessary to what is knownas local color. But that is not all. Their talk and gossip are a source of much information to us aboutthe principal characters. Their comments on their superiors give us interesting glimpses of the life andtemperaments of those superiors. In addition to this, these rustic characters are a source of humor inthe otherwise somber and tragic stories. Finally, some of these rustic characters make their owncontribution, however slight it may be, to the plot and occasionally play a crucial role in the story.These rustic characters are generally presented in a group. In The Return of the Native, the groupconsists of Grandfer Cantle, Fairway, Humphrey, Sam,Christian Cantle, Susan Nunsuch, Olly Dowden,etc.In this novel, like others, the rustic characters provide the rural background against which the story isset. These characters may be regarded as part and parcel of Egdon Health. Through them Hardyintroduces us to local customs, beliefs, superstitions and occupations. The annual bonfire on the fifthof November to commemorate the Gunpowder Plot, the Maypole celebrations, the village festival orpicnic and dancing, turf-cutting and furze-cutting
all these are described by Hardy in relation to therustic characters. Through them, again, we learn some of the superstitions that were current at thetime, such as a vague belief in ghosts and witches. Susan Nunsuch, who believes Eustacia to be awitch, makes a waxen figure of her, sticks needles into it, and then puts it on the fire in order to meltit, reciting at the same time the Lord's Prayer backward. Thus these characters convey to us the spiritof the place. They are soaked in tradition, the tradition of a primitive class rooted in the soil. They areas eternal as the woods and fields and the heath.