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Is Diggory Venn in The Return of the Native a Satanic Figure?(Kansai English Studies)

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  • The Return of the NativeのDiggory Vennはサタン的人物か(関西英文学研究)
  • The Return of the NativeのDiggory Vennはサタン的人物か
  • The Return of the Native ノ Diggory Venn ワ サタンテキ ジンブツ カ

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Abstract

Many critics traditionally regard Diggory Venn in Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native, either as an idealized countryman, or as one of the "Mephistophelian visitants." It is true that Venn, in his faithfulness, selfsacrifice and perseverance, is an embodiment of the pastoral ethic, but it is not convincing to stress his grotesque qualities too much. Certainly, his being dyed scarlet, his ubiquitousness, and his dramatic interventions in human affairs evoke the Satan imagery, but, ironically, his efforts to save Thomasin often result in failure because of his misconception or hasty judgement. In the night gambling scene on the heath, for instance, Venn, not comprehending that half of the Yeobright guineas are meant for Clym, mistakenly delivers them all to Thomasin, which afterwards causes the tragic events of "the closed door" sequence, precipitating the novel's catastrophe. I would argue that Venn is intended to be a conventional rather than a Satanic figure. Although the author indicates in the celebrated footnote to Chapter 3, Book VI that the happy ending was a capitulation to certain circumstances of serial publication, and that Venn was to have retained his weird character to the last, yet his notes on fiction in The Life say that, in order to gratify the reader's love of the uncommon in human experience, the uncommon must be in the events and the ordinary in the characters. My conclusion is that, by depicting Venn as plausible, Hardy put his view of fiction into practice, while appearing to conform to the demands of the magazine publishers.

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