Marriage and Social Identity in The Return of the Native

Keshavarz M., Ghasemi P.


The Return of the Native presents a world in which “doing means marrying". Thomas Hardy shows how the dominant discourse of the Victorian society defines an individual’s whole life through the conformity to the social code of marriage. This paper clarifies how Hardy’s satirical tone implicitly reflects the voice of the minority, which is not able or eager to follow this conformity code of the majority. Through a detailed analysis of the significance of marriage in defining one’s social identity, family relations, economic ambitions, and individual ideals, the paper focuses on a hermaphrodite character who cannot adapt to the majority’s code because of his physical condition. Such an individual, as the paper presents, is marginalized by the majority and suffers from problems that might lead to psychological disorders. It is Hardy’s implicit satirical tone, which encourages the readers to change their mental set about the role of marriage in defining one’s identity.


Marriage, Thomas Hardy, marginality, onformity, hermaphrodite, double personality, satirical tone

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