The Return of the Native chapter 1
“The untameable, Ishmaelitish thing that Egdon now was it always had been.”
As in “Call me Ishmael” from Moby-Dick?
I wonder if Hardy was a fan of Melville.
or maybe Hardy was a fan of the Bible. Do you know who Ishmael was? He was the son of Abraham and Hagar. Nope, not Abraham and Sarah. Abraham and Hagar. She was Sarah’s Egyptian servant. (Genesis 16). Later Hagar and Ishmael were sent away from Abraham’s family to wander in the wilderness. (Genesis 21).
Today the word Ishmaelite can mean a descendent of Ishmael or it can mean someone who is a wanderer or cast out.
I get Melville’s name choice for his character, but how can Hardy call a place Ishmaelitish?
Is Egdon Heath a rejected place? Does it refer to the untamed wilderness? Is it a cast off?
Ishmaelitish. Try to work that one into daily conversation.