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|Map of Wessex|
|1||Description of Farmer Oak - An Incident||1|
|2||Night - The Flock - An Interior - Another Interior||7|
|3||A Girl on Horseback - Conversation||15|
|4||Gabriel's Resolve - The Visit - The Mistake||24|
|5||Departure of Bathsheba - A Pastoral Tragedy||34|
|6||The Fair - The Journey - The Fire||40|
|7||Recognition - A Timid Girl||51|
|8||The Malthouse - The Chat - News||55|
|9||The Homestead - A Visitor - Half-Confidences||74|
|10||Mistress and Men||81|
|11||Outside the Barracks - Snow - A Meeting||88|
|12||Farmers - A Rule - An Exception||94|
|13||Sortes Sanctorum - The Valentine||100|
|14||Effect of the Letter - Sunrise||105|
|15||A Morning Meeting - The Letter Again||110|
|16||All Saints' and All Souls'||121|
|17||In the Market-Place||124|
|18||Boldwood in Meditation - Regret||127|
|19||The Sheep-Washing - The Offer||132|
|20||Perplexity - Grinding the Shears - A Quarrel||138|
|21||Troubles in the Fold - A Message||145|
|22||The Great Barn and the Sheep-Shearers||152|
|23||Eventide - A Second Declaration||163|
|24||The Same Night - The Fir Plantation||170|
|25||The New Acquaintance Described||177|
|26||Scene on the Verge of the Hay-Mead||181|
|27||Hiving the Bees||191|
|28||The Hollow Amid the Ferns||195|
|29||Particulars of a Twilight Walk||201|
|30||Hot Cheeks and Tearful Eyes||209|
|31||Blame - Fury||214|
|32||Night - Horses Tramping||223|
|33||In the Sun - A Harbinger||232|
|34||Home Again - A Trickster||240|
|35||At an Upper Window||251|
|36||Wealth in Jeopardy - The Revel||256|
|37||The Storm - The Two Together||265|
|38||Rain - One Solitary Meets Another||273|
|39||Coming Home - A Cry||277|
|40||On Casterbridge Highway||282|
|41||Suspicion - Fanny Is Sent For||289|
|42||Joseph and His Burden - Buck's Head||300|
|44||Under a Tree - Reaction||323|
|46||The Gurgoyle: Its Doings||336|
|47||Adventures by the Shore||344|
|48||Doubts Arise - Doubts Linger||347|
|49||Oak's Advancement - A Great Hope||353|
|50||The Sheep Fair - Troy Touches His Wife's Hand||359|
|51||Bathsheba Talks with Her Outrider||374|
|53||Concurritur - Horae Momento||394|
|54||After the Shock||406|
|55||The March Following - "Bathsheba Boldwood"||411|
|56||Beauty in Loneliness - After All||416|
|57||A Foggy Night and Morning - Conclusion||426|
|Reading Group Guide||467|
|A Note on the Text||469|
1. According to the scholar Howard Babb, Hardy’s depiction of Wessex “impinges upon the consciousness of the reader in many ways . . . as mere setting, or a symbol, or as a being in its own right.” How does environment serve as an integral part of this novel?
2. The title of Far from the Madding Crowd, borrowed from Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, ” celebrates the “cool, sequestered” lives of rural folks. Is the title ironic or appropriate?
3. The rustics who work the land, tend the sheep, and gather at Warren’s malt house have been likened to a Greek chorus. Can you support this analogy? What function do the rustics serve in the novel?
4. Time is a theme that weaves throughout the story. One example may be found in Chapter XVI, when Frank Troy stands rigidly in All Saints Church awaiting Fanny’s delayed arrival while a “grotesque clockwork” agonizingly marks each passing moment. Where else does Hardy employ the theme of time, and what purpose does it serve?
5. In Chapter IV, Bathsheba tells Gabriel, “I want somebody to tame me; I am too independent: and you would never be able to, I know.” How is Bathsheba “tamed” over the course of the novel, and who is responsible for her transformation?
6. How does the subordinate plot concerning Fanny Robin and Sergeant Troy serve as a contract to the main storyline?
7. What do Bathsheba Everdene and Fanny Robin have in common, and how do they differ? And what does Hardy’s portrayal of these two women reveal about Victorian moral standards?
8. In Gabriel Oak, Sergeant Troy, andFarmer Boldwood, Hardy has depicted three very different suitors in pursuit of Bathsheba Everdene. What distinguishes each of these characters, and what values does each of them represent?
9. Two particular episodes in Far from the Madding Crowd are often cited for their profound sensuality: Sergeant Troy’s seduction of Bathsheba through swordplay (Chapter XXVIII), and Gabriel’s sheep-shearing scene (Chapter XXII). What elements does Hardy employ to make these scenes so powerful?
10. At the end of the novel, Hardy describes the remarkable bond between Gabriel and Bathsheba: “Theirs was that substantial affection which arises . . . when the two who are thrown together begin first by knowing the rougher sides of each other’s character, and not the best till further on, the romance growing up in the interstices of a mass of hard, prosaic reality.” How does this relationship serve as a contrast to other examples of love and courtship throughout the novel? Consider Bathsheba and her three suitors, as well as Fanny Robin and Sergeant Troy.