Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

by Thomas Hardy
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Overview

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Hardy's first masterpiece, this 1874 novel received wide acclaim upon publication and remains among the author's best-loved works. The tale of a passionate, independent woman and her three suitors, it explores Hardy's trademark themes: thwarted love, the inevitability of fate, and the encroachment of industrial society on rural life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140815313
Publisher: Longman Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/01/1998
Edition description: ABR
Pages: 64
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.87(h) x (d)

About the Author

Margaret Drabble edited The Oxford Companion to English Literature and The Genius of Thomas Hardy. Her novels include The Waterfall and The Gates of Ivory, and, most recently, The Witch of Exmoor and The Peppered Moth. She lives in England.

Date of Birth:

June 2, 1840

Date of Death:

January 11, 1928

Place of Birth:

Higher Brockhampon, Dorset, England

Place of Death:

Max Gate, Dorchester, England

Education:

Served as apprentice to architect James Hicks

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Description of Farmer Oak-An Incident

When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.

His Christian name was Gabriel, and on working days he was a young man of sound judgment, easy motions, proper dress, and general good character. On Sundays he was a man of misty views, rather given to postponing, and hampered by his best clothes and umbrella: upon the whole, one who felt himself to occupy morally that vast middle space of Laodicean neutrality which lay between the Communion people of the parish and the drunken section,--that is, he went to church, but yawned privately by the time the congegation reached the Nicene creed, and thought of what there would be for dinner when he meant to be listening to the sermon. Or, to state his character as it stood in the scale of public opinion, when his friends and critics were in tantrums, he was considered rather a bad man; when they were pleased, he was rather a good man; when they were neither, he was a man whose moral colour was a kind of pepperand-salt mixture.

Since he lived six times as many working-days as Sundays, Oak's appearance in his old clothes was most peculiarly his own--the mental picture formed by his neighbours in imagining him being always dressed in that way. He wore a low-crowned felt hat, spread out at the base by tight jamming upon the head for security in high winds, and a coat like Dr. Johnson's; his lowerextremities being encased in ordinary leather leggings and boots emphatically large, affording to each foot a roomy apartment so constructed that any wearer might stand in a river all day long and know nothing of damp--their maker being a conscientious man who endeavoured to compensate for any weakness in his cut by unstinted dimension and solidity.

Mr. Oak carried about him, by way of watch, what may be called a small silver clock; in other words, it was a watch as to shape and intention, and a small clock as to size. This instrument being several years older than Oak's grandfather, had the peculiarity of going either too fast or not at all. The smaller of its hands, too, occasionally slipped round on the pivot, and thus, though the minutes were told with precision, nobody could be quite certain of the hour they belonged to. The stopping peculiarity of his watch Oak remedied by thumps and shakes, and he escaped any evil consequences from the other two defects by constant comparisons with and observations of the sun and stars, and by pressing his face close to the glass of his neighbours' windows, till he could discern the hour marked by the green-faced timekeepers within. It may be mentioned that Oak's fob being difficult of access, by reason of its somewhat high situation in the waistband of his trousers (which also lay at a remote height under his waistcoat), the watch was as a necessity pulled out by throwing the body to one side, compressing the mouth and face to a mere mass of ruddy flesh on account of the exertion required, and drawing up the watch by its chain, like a bucket from a well.

But some thoughtful persons, who had seen him walking across one of his fields on a certain December morning--sunny and exceedingly mild--might have regarded Gabriel Oak in other aspects than these. In his face one might notice that many of the hues and curves of youth had tarried on to manhood: there even remained in his remoter crannies some relics of the boy. His height and breadth would have been sufficient to make his presence imposing, had they been exhibited with due consideration. But there is a way some men have, rural and urban alike, for which the mind is more responsible than flesh and sinew: it is a way of curtailing their dimensions by their manner of showing them. And from a quiet modesty that would have become a vestal which seemed continually to impress upon him that he had no great claim on the world's room, Oak walked unassumingly and with a faintly perceptible bend, yet distinct from a bowing of the shoulders. This may be said to be a defect in an individual if he depends for his valuation more upon his appearance than upon his capacity to wear well, which Oak did not.

He had just reached the time of life at which "young" is ceasing to be the prefix of "man" in speaking of one. He was at the brightest period of masculine growth, for his intellect and his emotions were clearly separated: he had passed the time during which the influence of youth indiscriminately mingles them in the character of impulse, and he had not yet arrived at the stage wherein they become united again, in the character of prejudice, by the influence of a wife and family. In short, he was twenty-eight, and a bachelor.

The field he was in this morning sloped to a ridge called Norcombe Hill. Through a spur of this hill ran the highway between Emminster and Chalk-Newton. Casually glancing over the hedge, Oak saw coming down the incline before him an ornamental spring waggon, painted yellow and gaily marked, drawn by two horses, a waggoner walking alongside bearing a whip perpendicularly. The waggon was laden with household goods and window plants, and on the apex of the whole sat a woman, young and attractive. Gabriel had not beheld the sight for more than half a minute, when the vehicle was brought to a standstill just beneath his eyes.

"The tailboard of the waggon is gone, Miss," said the waggoner.

Table of Contents


Preface
1. Description of Farmer Oak--An Incident
2. Night--The Flock--An Interior--Another Interior
3. A Girl on Horseback--Conversation
4. Gabriel's Resolve--The Visit--The Mistake
5. Departure of Bathsheba--A Pastoral Tragedy
6. The Fair--The Journey--The Fire
7. Recognition--A Timid Girl
8. The Malthouse--The Chat--News
9. The Homestead--A Visitor--Half-Confidences
10. Mistress and Men
11. Outside the Barracks--Snow--A Meeting
12. Farmers--A Rule--An Exception
13. Sortes Sanctorum--The Valentine
14. Effect of the Letter--Sunrise
15. A Morning Meeting--The Letter Again
16. All Saints' and All Souls'
17. In the Market-Place
18. Boldwood in Meditation--Regret
19. The Sheep-Washing--The Offer
20. Perplexity--Grinding the Shears--A Quarrel
21. Troubles in the Fold--A Message
22. The Great Barn and the Sheep-Shearers
23. Eventide--A Second Declaration
24. The Same Night--The Fir Plantation
25. The New Acquaintance Described
26. Scene on the Verge of the Hay-Mead
27. Hiving the Bees
28. The Hollow Amid the Ferns
29. Particulars of a Twilight Walk
30. Hot Cheeks and Tearful Eyes
31. Blame--Fury
32. Night--Horses Tramping
33. In the Sun--A Harbinger
34. Home Again--A Trickster
35. At an Upper Window
36. Wealth in Jeopardy--The Revel
37. The Storm--The Two Together
38. Rain--One Solitary Meets Another
39. Coming Home--A Cry
40. On Casterbridge Highway
41. Suspicion--Fanny Is Sent For
42. Joseph and His Burden--Buck's Head
43. Fanny's Revenge
44. Under a Tree--Reaction
45. Troy's Romanticism
46. The Gurgoyle: Its Doings
47. Adventures by the Shore
48. Doubts Arise--Doubts Linger
49. Oak's Advancement--A Great Hope
50. The Sheep Fair--Troy Touches His Wife's Hand
51. Bathsheba Talks with Her Outrider
52. Converging Courses
53. Concurritur--Horæ Momento
54. After the Shock
55. The March Following--"Bathsheba Boldwood"
56. Beauty in Loneliness--After All
57. A Foggy Night and Morning--Conclusion

What People are Saying About This

Virginia Woolf

Hardy's genius was unceratin in development, uneven in accomplishment, but, when the moment came, magnificent in achievement. The moment came, completely and fully, in Far From the Maddening Crowd. The subject was right; the poet and the countryman, the sensual man, the somber reflective man, the man of learning, all inlisted to produce a book which, however fashions may chop and change, must hold its place among the great English novels.

Reading Group Guide

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.

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Far From the Madding Crowd (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 125 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Far From the Madding crowd is an excellent novel by Thomas Hardy, and is yet quite different from much of the author's later works. Hardy seems to possess less of a sadistic god-complex, and there are fewer ironic coincidences in Madding Crowd than later books. The action is propelled forth more by the characters than by Hardy himself, but despite these differences, it is very much a Hardy work - full of bleak humor, deft wit, and engrossing characterizations. It's also one of the few Hardy works that could be said to have a 'happy ending' though, to be sure, there is still a great deal of misery and difficulty that besets the protagonists. A great work that truly helps to broaden one's perceptions of Hardy, and excellent book in its own right.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of all the books in my library, this one gets read over and over. The book is stimulating and intriguing from the opening page to the end and the characters are unforgettable. And the story has an underlying message that is true even today.
ismene7 More than 1 year ago
Bathsheba does not start out as a heroine in this lovely rendering of Hardy's fictional world of Dorset. She becomes one through the book and the three men she is involved with. As is often the case in a Hardy novel the landscape is part of the story and the shaping of the people. I read this book years ago in highschool. Life has taught me too which qualities to value. Her beauty misleads herself and the people around her, but she finds her true worth later on. Hardy is nothing if not a steady student of life.
iRebecca27 More than 1 year ago
I read this my sophomore year, and it is a great story. Love is explored as the main theme.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was truly an enjoyable read! the characters had such distint personality, and Hardy's writing always has a dry wit to it that makes each chapter entertaining and thoughtful!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is a flawless novel by Hardy and is to be counted among his best ones. It clearly expresses how people behave according to their environment. The story of full of different men falling in love with Bathseba, the main character. It also consists of the real devotion of a lover to his loved one. Its a smooth, flawless story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
G yaybqeipbrep yi eyeryyq age .ta wn
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Same)) she sighed <p> Storm fell asleep the two heart beats match
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well wtitten, interesting, unusual happy ending for an English style novel.
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