A Return to the Origins of Ecology through Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native


  • Marie Bertrand


Ecology, in its modern understanding, often invokes exclusively the protection of the non-human environment by humans, without any particular focus on a potential relationship between them. This article invites the reader to go back to the original principles of the ecological thought through a close reading of The Return of the Native, written by Victorian novelist Thomas Hardy. Rediscovering Hardy’s writing in the light of new philosophical and eco-critical works will allow both an assessment of the author’s ecological thinking and of the role of the Victorian period in shaping the features of our
contemporary ecological movement. Classical works in phenomenology along with more recent and ground-breaking studies in ecopsychology will offer a new perspective on Hardy’s novel while relocating the interrelationship between humans and non-humans to the forefront of the ecological stage. The involvement of humans within nature and their subsequent concern for its fate will pervade the argument of this article, which, eventually, aims at initiating a debate on an ecological paradox.