Structure and title page

Division of the text

There are various ways to divide the book up to study it:

  • One way would be to keep the divisions of the book when it was first issued as a 3-volume novel. The first and third volumes consisted of 20 chapters; the second of 19
  • Another way is to keep Hardy's own divisions, which he called Phases.

If we set the two structures side by side, we have:

Volume Chapters Range Phase Title Chapters Range
I 1 - 20 20 First The Maiden 1 - 11 11
Second Maiden No More 12 - 15 4
Third The Rally 16 - 24 9
II 21 - 39 19 Fourth The Consequence 25 - 34 10
Fifth The Woman Pays 35 - 44 10
III 40 - 59 20 Sixth The Convert 45 - 52 8
Seventh Fulfilment 53 - 59 7

Roman numerals

Many of the editions of the novel use Roman numerals for chapter numbers. This was quite common in nineteenth century novels, and was used for all of Hardy's. However, this website will replace them with the more usual Arabic numerals.

Title page

The subtitle, added just before the first edition, was the cause of some controversy. It was quite usual for novels to have sub-titles, and even for the words ‘faithfully presented' or some such formula to be used to make the novel seem as real as possible.

Hardy wrote to a friend that ‘the conviction was thrust upon me ... that the heroine was essentially pure – purer than many a so-called unsullied virgin: therefore I called her so.'

The quotation Hardy used would also have been quite typical. Some novelists even had a quotation for every chapter. Hardy's quotation comes from Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona I.ii.115-6.


  • Can you think of a good reason why Hardy chose to have 59 chapters rather than 60 or are the numbers arbitrary?
    • Do you think Hardy's decision to shape the novel into seven phases has any significance?
  • What do you notice as you examine Hardy's titles for each phase?
    • What do you notice about the relative length of each phase?
  • Can you think of a better structure for the division of chapters?
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