The stakes were won by Wildeve

"The stakes were won by Wildeve" by Arthur Hopkins. Plate 7 (July) Frontispiece facing, XXXIV, 493. 6.375 inches wide by 4.312 inches high; from the The Return of the Native. Image scan, caption, and commentary by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. ]

Text illustrated

Christian put down a shilling, Wildeve another, and each threw. Christian won. They played for two. Christian won again.

'Let us try four,' said Wildeve. They played for four. This time the stakes were won by Wildeve.


As Seymour-Smith notes in his recent biography of Hardy (1994), “The gambling scene by the light of glow-worms — so impeccably possible, so wildly improbable —is justly celebrated: although too isolated within its context, it remains one of the most stupendous, and best loved, scenes in English fiction” (236) In the July plate, Hopkins captures well the sense of the numinous that permeates the dice game between the devilish Wildeve and his dupe, Christian Cantle, the former identifiable by his middle-class tweeds and the latter by his rustic's linen smock-frock. Hopkins has added a somewhat fanciful touch in Christian's tam o' shanter, perhaps to contrast Wildeve's soft cap. Despite his importance to the novel's plot, this is the only occasion in which Wildeve appears in the pictorial programme, perhaps because Hopkins found him rather uninteresting and undeveloped. As Seymour-Smith remarks, "he is simply another rather unsatisfactory version of the Hardyan 'villain', one of the line which begins in Manston of Desperate Remedies , continues (more robustly) in Troy, and culminates in Alec D'Urberville" (235).

Related material

Created 5 December 2000

Last modified 30 December 2019