While a character is certainly responsible to a large extent, chances and coincidences often operate as the deciding factor. Hardy felt that an evil power ruled the universe, defeating every endeavor of man to better his fortune or to find happiness. He couldn’t believe in a benevolent Providence; events were too plainly ironical so they must have been contrived by a supernatural power. He believed that Fate and Destiny were sometimes indifferent; but often hostile to human happiness. In other words, when human beings are not themselves responsible for the frustration of their hopes, or when their temperaments and mutual conflicts do not wreck their happiness, fate intervenes in the shape of chance or accident to complete or contribute to their ruin. Hardy shows a persistent and bitter preoccupation with the sorrow of life. We certainly cannot deny the littleness and sordidness of human life. He attributes the tragedy to an “Unsympathetic First Cause” and he assures us that the “President of the Immortals had ended his sport with Tess”. The Return of the Native shows man as the helpless plaything of invisible powers, ruthless and indifferent. The characters have no such thing as free will.
The vital role of chance and incident (fate): Chances and coincidences play a vital role in all the novels of Hardy. In the work of no other novelist do chance and coincide exercise such a conspicuous influence on the course of events.
The Reddleman’s chance meeting with the boy Johnny: Johnny Nunsuch has overheard the conversation between Eustacia and Wildeve when the latter visited Eustacia in response to her signal of the bonfire. Johnny then meets the reddleman purely by chance. The reddleman learns from the boy the emotional attachment of Eustacia with Wildeve. The reddleman decides to serve Thomasin’s interests by dissuading Eustacia from Wildeve. But he is scolded by her and feeling dejected and failed, goes to Mrs. Yeobright to renew his offer of marriage to Thomasin. Mrs. Yeobright uses this offer to threaten Wildeve to marry Thomasin. This whole series of events are caused by chance and fate only started by Johnny, the boy.
The Game of Dice: By a sheer accident, Christian Cantle who is carrying Mrs. Yeobright’s money meets a group of village folk who take him to a raffle where, by a sheer stroke of luck, he wins a prize and encouraged by his good fortune plays a game of dice with Wildeve. Cantle first loses his own money and later stakes Mrs. Yeobright’s and loses the entire amount. The reddleman appears and invites Wildeve for another bout. This time luck favors the reddleman and he wins all the money from Wildeve. He delivers the whole money to Thomasin, not aware of the fact, that half the money was to be handed to Clym. Mrs. fails to receive an acknowledgement from Cly and goes to ask Eustacia if she had received any money from Wildeve. The question innocently asked creates a misunderstanding and causes a quarrel and complication in the relationship of Clym. If Cantle had not met the village folks by chance and lost the money and gone straight to Thomasin and Clym, there would have been no chance of clash between Eustacia and Mrs. Yeobright.
The Accident of Clym’s semi-blindness: That Clym becomes semi-blind when he was hoping to launch his educational project, is a sheer accident which leads to disastrous results. Clym is compelled to become a furze-cutter. The humble occupation chosen by Clym is regarded by Eustacia as humiliating nor can she bear his stoic acceptance of his semi-blindness and care-free singing while cutting furze. Clym asks her if she thinks that she has married him in haste and ruined her chances of happiness, her answer is almost yes. When Wildeve asks her if her marriage has proved a misfortune for her, her reply is “The marriage is not a misfortune in itself. It is simply the accident which has happened since that has been the cause of my ruin.” The accident referred to is of course Clym’s semi-blindness. In other words, fate has played a trick upon Clym when he was going to be successful; fate intervened and ruined his eyesight.
Eustacia’s chance meeting with Wildeve at the village festival: When Eustacia goes to a village festival in order to relieve the tedium of her life. She meets Wildeve purely by chance and Wildeve invites her to a dance. She contemptuously describes herself as a furze cutter’s wife. Later he escorts her on her homeward journey, but slips away at the sight of Clym; however, the reddleman sees him parting from Eustacia and arouses certain apprehensions in the mind of Thomasin regarding her husband’s relationship with Eustacia.
The closed door and its consequences: describe the summary.
A legacy for Wildeve: It is by sheer chance that Wildeve becomes the recipient of a legacy which makes him rich. Describe all the details from summary…
The Bonfire: It is by chance the Charley, in order to please the despondent Eustacia, thinks of lighting a bonfire. She had nothing to do with bonfire. Wildeve seeing the fire comes to Eustacia and she plans to fly away from the Heath.
The weather conditions: Finally, it so happens that on the night of Eustacia’s escape, the weather assumes a menacing aspect. The night becomes dreadful because of rain and storm. Anything can happen on such a night. Give details…
Conclusion: Hardy certainly makes his story implausible by his excessive use of chance and coincidence. He is intent to show that the stars in their courses fight against the aspiring. The Return of the Native is certainly marred by an exorbitant use of this device. Rightly does a critic say, “The plot of the novel lacks the terrific and terrifying logic of cause and effect that marks the plots of the greatest tragedies”.