Abstract...Midnight on Egdon Heath

©Janis Zroback

Toronto, Canada

Artist's Description


Midnight on Egdon Heath" is part of the Thomas Hardy Collection.

Watercolour on Arches Paper

The entire opening chapter of The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, is devoted to a lengthy description of Egdon Heath, the setting of the novel. The heath must be significant in terms of the themes and the continue progress of the novel. Hardy made the heath so significant, that it can be look upon as a character like any other in the novel. The heath’s constant correlation with the plot and its “personality” even transformed it into the major antagonist of the story. In the opening chapter the heath is introduced just as how a major character of most novels would be introduced with detail. In fact, the way Hardy devoted the entire first chapter just to describe it gives it the level of importance that is over any other characters in the book. This seems to suggest that the heath is like the “ruler” of the story, it is the King, and it is more powerful than any person is. The heath demonstrates the idea that fate is more powerful than the desires of individuals .GE..

I chose to depict what I feel to be the “dominance of darkness” that is clearly ominous, and Hardy also says of the heath that it could “retard the dawn, sadden noon…and intensify the opacity of a moonless midnight to a cause of shaking and dread” It is also inferred that the Heath itself creates the darkness.. “the heath exhaling darkness as rapidly as the heavens precipitated it” ….being someone who also uses colour, even to depict fear, I have included powerful hues to intensify the feeling of doom.

The Heath is said to be eternally waiting and “unmoved” in its “ancient permanence”. It is suggested that the Heath’s existence dates back even into times of legend—“its Titanic form” and will last until the “final overthrow”, or Armageddon. Egdon Heath is as indifferent to man as it is to time. It may even be hostile, as “Civilization was its enemy” . Even in its indifference the Heath is mocking towards humans. The Heath is “inviolate” and “even the trifling irregularities were not caused by pickaxe, plough, or spade.

Artwork Comments

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