In the Norton edition of The Return of the Native, pp. 385-95, editor James Gindin reprints a dozen Hardy poems which he feels are "particularly relevant to the backgrounds and attitudes expressed in" (385) the novel, even though many of these poems post-date the composition of The Return of the Native in 1877. Each of the following "challenges" requires only two persons.

A. What connections may the careful reader make between the poem "By the Barrows" and the actions, characters, and settings of the novel? However, what differences would such a reader detect in the intentions or effects of these works?

B. "The Moth Signal" apparently tells in verse the story of the assignation between Wildeve and Eustacia after both have married other people. What do the presence and comments of the third person, the ancient Celtic chieftain, add to the quality of the narrative and our response to it (as opposed to the prose account of Book IV, Ch. 4, p. 210-211)?

C. We instantly recognize certain shared features of the novel and the ballad "The Bride-Night Fire": coerced marriage, tragedy, and renewal. In what ways, however, does the poem contrast rather than repeat in miniature the story of the novel?

D. If you were permitted to insert the poem "The Night of the Dance" into an edition of the novel, where would you situate it and why? How does Hardy's choice of persona in the poem re-frame the experience of reading about this incident in the novel?

E. What similarities do you detect between the character and circumstances of the walker in "The Pedestrian, An Incident of 1883" and the major characters of the novel?


Victorian Web Authors Thomas Hardy Leading Questions

Entered the Victorian Web 15 September 2003; last modified 9 June 2014