Why Wildeve Had to Die: Mimetic Triangles and Violent Ends in The Return of the Native

Jeff Massey Ph.D., Molloy College


Although significant critical attention has been directed toward understanding Eustacia Vye’s death in Hardy’s The V^tum of the Native (1878), substantially less has been paid to the other corpse fished from Shadwater Weir, Damon Wildeve. I feel the reasons behind his death remain largely unexplored. Damon and Eustacia, in many ways so similar to one another, meet an identical end beneath the waters of the drainage pool. No small critical effort has been directed towards understanding Eustacia Vye’s death, be it simple suicide, narcissistic death wish (Mitchell), pagan necessity (Giordano), or punishment for gender transgression Deen).