Plot of The Return of the Native
Hardy has been criticized for his handling of plot. Like other novelists of his time, he often uses chance and coincidence to excess. This use, however, is sometimes for reasons other than simply furthering the story at a given point. Hardy also characteristically rushes his story along at times by using a series of short scenes rather than sacrificing variety or the interest that a fast pace can maintain to the detailed development possible in a longer or long scene. It may well be that here, as in the case of his adding a sixth book, his practice is influenced by the kind of readers he knew he would have in the serial publication of his books.
Hardy's habit of using melodrama in important scenes has also been pointed out. Modern critics and readers tend to complain about this, but Hardy was doing nothing very different from contemporary writers. Compare the melodrama with Hardy's use of realism, which is effective by today's standards and still effectively evokes the physical and emotional landscapes Hardy wanted to convey to his readers.