This paper offers a critical analysis of Thomas Hardy’s novel, The Return of the Native and focuses on one of his characters, namely Mrs. Yeobright. Hardy sets the novel in Victorian England, a time when the country was very prosperous. Moreover, the society was dominated by a rigid social hierarchy. Victorian women were treated as second-class citizens and were given identities that corresponded to their roles in the family, such as wife, mother, daughter, and widow. Hardy’s character is examined in regard to how she functions according to these roles. Mrs. Yeobright is utilized in order to critique social class and explore how social class functions in everyday life.
Key words: Identity, Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native, Victorian, social class.
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