Although Eustacia Vye, the protagonist in Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, just wants to get out of the heath, her actions alone could be considered immoral. Even before she meets Clym, Eustacia decides to fall in love with him. She makes herself infatuated with him because of his social status. Eustacia deceives Clym and her own emotions. She says she will do anything to get off of the heath she hates. Eustacia uses him with the idea that she will get out of her own personal purgatory and go to Paris. Her behavior includes ulterior motives, making her dishonest and unethical.
Eustacia did not want Wildeve for herself, but she did not want anyone else, especially Thomasin, to have him. This is selfish and causes more problems than solutions. Wildeve marries Thomasin just to spite Eustacia. Thomasin then becomes very unhappy. Causing intentional sadness could be considered very unethical. Eustacia also purposely ignores Mrs. Yeobright and refuses to open the door when Mrs. Yeobright calls upon the couple to reconcile. Not only is this rude, but it ultimately leads to Mrs. Yeobright’s death. Eustacia does not tell Clym her part in his mother’s death, deceiving him yet again.
Her continuous misleadings could also be thought of as immoral. Though her actions seem immoral, the full presentation in the book makes the reader react more sympathetically. Eustacia has no other choice. In this time period, women cannot live by themselves. They are protected by a male, either a brother or a husband. She has to marry to get out of the heath. The reader begins to appreciate her situation when Eustacia marries into a family where her mother-in-law treats her terribly. Mrs. Yeobright at first acknowledges the rumors that Eustacia is a witch.
These rumors she uses as a reason for her son not to marry Eustacia. When Clym does not listen, she confronts Eustacia herself asking if she has accepted money from Wildeve. In her time period, this would mean that Mrs. Yeobright was accusing Eustacia of prostitution. Eustacia is appalled. This wrongful accusation makes the reader pity her. When marriage does not work, she becomes depressed. Her dreams are destroyed. This makes the reader very concerned for her well being. She is hopeless and becomes suicidal. Her death ultimately makes the reader feel sorry for her.