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Critical Essays Structure of The Return of the Native

The structure of a novel is the shape given to its plot or series of events. The structure of Hardy's novel has been said to be described by a curve of expectation which traces the changes in the relationship between, and the aspirations of, Clym and Eustacia from waiting in anticipation and hope to the defeat of any possibility for happiness. This curve also reflects the changes in the relationship between the less important characters of Wildeve and Thomasin.

The structure of the novel reaches its logical completion by the end of Book Fifth; Book Sixth is an extension not accounted for by it.