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The central theme of the novel is that fate always takes the upper hand in a world that is largely indifferent and sometimes hostile, as symbolized by Egdon Heath. As a result, humankind is at the mercy of uncaring elements outside of their control. Every major event in the novel shows how fate has designed the action and outcome.
This novel has been called grim, "with a single, relentless drive to disaster." It is the story of a somber Egdon Heath. The book begins with darkness, darkness destined to color the lives of all the characters that come into contact with the heath. Whether it is Clym and his lofty ideals or Eustacia with her longing to be "loved to madness," fate has already decided their lives, and nothing will change the course. The indifference and hostility of the universe is visible both in the scorching summer heat which aggravates Mrs. Yeobright's already weakened condition and in the vicious rainstorm which forms the backdrop of Eustacia's final flight across the heath.