Character of Diggory Venn (the reddleman) in Hardy’s Novel, The Return of the Native

A reddleman is one who sells a red ochre colour to the farmers for redding their sheep. Such a reddleman we find in Hardy’s Novel, The Return of the Native. In fact, Diggory Venn is the real name of the reddleman. He was a dairy farmer by his profession before he became a reddleman. He is now called the “reddleman” because he deals in reddle, a dye used by sheep farmers; as a result of handling it, his clothes, skin, and everything he owns are dyed red, giving him a devilish look. Such a character Venn functions as an image of the traditional rustics of Egdon heath with a philosophic essence of love, faith and natural proximity. According to Hardian precept of fate and morality, he is destined to win the race of life in ultimatum.

Venn is a local man that has been in love with Thomasin since childhood. As such, he frequently works behind the scenes to protect her and assure her happiness. The reddleman chanced to meet Thomasin in her wretched condition, while moving about a mile out of Anglebury. She looked pale and faintly sought help from the reddleman and told that she was in trouble and needed his help to ride her down to her name. The girl had returned home alone from Anglebury, where she and Wildeve went to marry earlier in that particular day. But a mistake in the license stopped the marriage. Thus at the first scene we find Thomasin Yeobright inside the reddleman’s van.

Thomasin is Clym  Yeobright's cousin. She is in love with the charismatic Wildeve and is disappointed when he puts off their marriage. She considers marrying Diggory Venn, the reddleman who is in love with her. Yet she takes his devotion for granted and is still attracted to Wildeve. Eventually she does marry Wildeve, but their union is not a happy one. However, Diggory Venn, the reddleman loved Thomasin to the core of his heart and also proposed her. Thomasin Yeobright rejected his proposal and wrote him a letter. But Venn’s love for Thomasin did not wane. He tried her best to ensure Thomasin’s happiness.

In the way of Thomasin’s happiness the only obstruction was the illicit relationship between Eustacia and Wildeve. Venn tries his best to nullify this affair only to secure Thomasin’s happiness. In one instance, When Diggory Venn finds out that Wildeve has been seeing Eustacia, Venn pressures him to marry Thomasin; though it means he cannot have Thomasin for himself, it would be the best thing for her reputation. Moreover, he offers to arrange a job for Eustacia so that Wildeve will go back to Thomasin and make her happy.

In fact, the reddleman’s uncle had been a trustee of a rich widow at Bud mouth for twenty five years and the reddleman offers a job there for Eustacia. The rich lady lived in a beautiful house facing the sea and was looking for a young company keeper as she was old and lame. The lady would jump to get Eustacia and his uncle would arrange everything.

However, Eustacia rejected his offer mainly due to her overwhelming desire of living in a gay town as a sophisticated lady according to her own tastes and interests. She rejected the offer as she would have to work and live at Bud mouth to please others which was likely to lower her present position. A girl like Eustacia is conscious of her freedom and therefore she comes to think of pleasing an old woman below her dignity.

Again For other instances, After Wildeve wins the money that Christian was supposed to deliver to Clym and Thomasin, Venn wins it back and gives it to Thomasin. When Wildeve has run off with Eustacia, Venn helps Thomasin find them. When Venn arrives he jumps in too, pulling out Clym and Wildeve. Wildeve and Eustacia are dead, but the doctor is able to revive Clym.

When he has saved up enough money, Diggory Venn quits the reddle business and buys a large dairy farm. Diggory Venn loved Thomasin unconditionally and remained by her side until she was free to marry him. Eventually he proposes to Thomasin and they marry. The climactic conclusion in the last act pleases general audiences that wanted to see everything turn out all right in the end. Venn receives the pleasures that he truly deserves for his devotional love for Thomasin.
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