Despite the violent ends of several of its major characters, Far from the Madding Crowd is the sunniest and least brooding of Hardy’s great novels. The strong-minded Bathsheba Everdene—and the devoted shepherd, obsessed farmer, and dashing soldier who vie for her favor—move through a beautifully realized late nineteenth-century agrarian landscape, still almost untouched by the industrial revolution and the encroachment of modern life.
About the Author
Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) was born in Dorset, England, son of a stonemason. Though a gifted student, he was unable to afford to attend university. He was apprenticed to an architect at age sixteen and worked in London for several years before returning to Dorset and dedicating himself to writing novels and poems.
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 I 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 congregation 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 pepper-and-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,4 his lower extremities 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, 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.
“Then I heard it fall,” said the girl, in a soft, though not particularly low voice. “I heard a noise I could not account for when we were coming up the hill.”
“I’ll run back.”
“Do,” she answered.
The sensible horses stood perfectly still, and the waggoner’s steps sank fainter and fainter in the distance.
The girl on the summit of the load sat motionless, surrounded by tables and chairs with their legs upwards, backed by an oak settle, and ornamented in front by pots of geraniums, myrtles, and cactuses, together with a caged canary—all probably from the windows of the house just vacated. There was also a cat in a willow basket, from the partly-opened lid of which she gazed with half-closed eyes, and affectionately surveyed the small birds around.
The handsome girl waited for some time idly in her place, and the only sound heard in the stillness was the hopping of the canary up and down the perches of its prison. Then she looked attentively downwards. It was not at the bird, nor at the cat; it was at an oblong package tied in paper, and lying between them. She turned her head to learn if the waggoner were coming. He was not yet in sight; and her eyes crept back to the package, her thoughts seeming to run upon what was inside it. At length she drew the article into her lap, and untied the paper covering; a small swing looking-glass was disclosed, in which she proceeded to survey herself attentively. She parted her lips and smiled.
It was a fine morning, and the sun lighted up to a scarlet glow the crimson jacket she wore, and painted a soft lustre upon her bright face and dark hair. The myrtles, geraniums, and cactuses packed around her were fresh and green, and at such a leafless season they invested the whole concern of horses, waggon, furniture, and girl with a peculiar vernal charm. What possessed her to indulge in such a performance in the sight of the sparrows, blackbirds, and unperceived farmer who were alone its spectators,—whether the smile began as a factitious one, to test her capacity in that art,—nobody knows; it ended certainly in a real smile. She blushed at herself, and seeing her reflection blush, blushed the more.
The change from the customary spot and necessary occasion of such an act—from the dressing hour in a bedroom to a time of travelling out of doors—lent to the idle deed a novelty it did not intrinsically possess. The picture was a delicate one. Woman’s prescriptive infirmity had stalked into the sunlight, which had clothed it in the freshness of an originality. A cynical inference was irresistible by Gabriel Oak as he regarded the scene, generous though he fain would have been. There was no necessity whatever for her looking in the glass. She did not adjust her hat, or pat her hair, or press a dimple into shape, or do one thing to signify that any such intention had been her motive in taking up the glass. She simply observed herself as a fair product of Nature in the feminine kind, her thoughts seeming to glide into far-off though likely dramas in which men would play a part—vistas of probable triumphs—the smiles being of a phase suggesting that hearts were imagined as lost and won. Still, this was but conjecture, and the whole series of actions was so idly put forth as to make it rash to assert that intention had any part in them at all.
The waggoner’s steps were heard returning. She put the glass in the paper, and the whole again into its place.
When the waggon had passed on, Gabriel withdrew from his point of espial, and descending into the road, followed the vehicle to the turnpike-gate some way beyond the bottom of the hill, where the object of his contemplation now halted for the payment of toll. About twenty steps still remained between him and the gate, when he heard a dispute. It was a difference concerning twopence between the persons with the waggon and the man at the toll-bar.
“Mis’ess’s niece is upon the top of the things, and she says that’s enough that I’ve offered ye, you great miser, and she won’t pay any more.” These were the waggoner’s words.
“Very well; then mis’ess’s niece can’t pass,” said the turnpike-keeper, closing the gate.
Oak looked from one to the other of the disputants, and fell into a reverie. There was something in the tone of twopence remarkably insignificant. Threepence had a definite value as money—it was an appreciable infringement on a day’s wages, and, as such, a higgling matter; but twopence——“Here,” he said, stepping forward and handing twopence to the gatekeeper; “let the young woman pass.” He looked up at her then; she heard his words, and looked down.
Gabriel’s features adhered throughout their form so exactly to the middle line between the beauty of St. John and the ugliness of Judas Iscariot, as represented in a window of the church he attended, that not a single lineament could be selected and called worthy either of distinction or notoriety. The red-jacketed and dark-haired maiden seemed to think so too, for she carelessly glanced over him, and told her man to drive on. She might have looked her thanks to Gabriel on a minute scale, but she did not speak them; more probably she felt none, for in gaining her a passage he had lost her her point, and we know how women take a favour of that kind.
The gatekeeper surveyed the retreating vehicle. “That’s a handsome maid,” he said to Oak.
“But she has her faults,” said Gabriel.
“And the greatest of them is—well, what it is always.”
“Beating people down? ay, ’tis so.”
Gabriel, perhaps a little piqued by the comely traveller’s indifference, glanced back to where he had witnessed her performance over the hedge, and said, “Vanity.”
Table of Contents
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
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
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I picked up Far From the Madding Crowd in my quest to read more classic literature. It took quite awhile for me to work my way through this book. I almost quit reading it several times. The writing style definitely takes some concentration. I felt more comfortable with the 'prose' after about ten chapters of reading. Some of the sentences stretch on for an entire paragraph (which takes some getting used to). The next sentence is a typical example of the sentence structure: "For dreariness nothing could surpass a prospect in the outskirts of the city of Melchester at a later hour on this same snowy evening - if that may be called a prospect of which the chief constituent was darkness." This book is not for the average modern reader.
When I started reading this book, many people commented that they made a movie from it. I was starting the book at the time and thought, "Really?", because the first chapters are rather slow with few interesting parts. Thank goodness I don't give up on books I start because this tale of a sheep herder, a girl whom he falls in love, and their interwoven lives within a rural English farming town (including a classic English gentlemen) was superbly captivating. I also liked the overarching theme that failures in life, though dark and fearful, can be the commencement of something greater and better for someone in the future.
I stumbled on this book in a small public library. After reading several chapters, I ordered it as I knew I would want a copy permanently on my bookshelf. This book is superb. The descriptions of the 19th century country side are crafted as only a master could. I savoured this novel and the tale has continued to haunt me. I probably would not have enjoyed it in my younger days but now relished the impressions Hardy paints for us of time and place. I highly recommend it.
I greatly enjoyed this novel, not so much for its stark stoicism, but rather for the array of characters who make the book one to remember. Hardy does an excellent job of building his characters, making them dynamic in many respects, while retaining a certain sense of humaness and realism. 'Far from the Madding Crowd' is a novel that you can read time and time again; I highly recommend it for readers who love 19th century British lit, the works of Emily and Charlotte Bronte, or Dickens.
For Academic Decathlon this year, our book of study was Far From the Madding Crowd. Though I didn't particularly enjoy it my first time reading it through, I have to come to really appreciate it for what it is. Hardy's characters come alive, and you feel as though you are sometimes at one with the characters in the story. An excellent read for anyone with some patience.
Lovely, simply lovely. I was enchanted by all the characters, and just amazed that this was one story where I really could not see the plot coming down the street waving flags and yelling "Here I come!" like most stories these days. The story floored me and kept me glued till the end. I loved it!
Thomas Hardy is one of those authors whose works I do enjoy ¿ but grudgingly. His strong descriptive powers, well-written characters, and interesting plots are all points in his favor. But there is something dark running in the vein below, a grimness that I find disturbing. As the back of this audiobook copy of Far From The Madding Crowd would have it, Hardy's sense of inevitable human tragedy was already manifesting itself in this tale. Far From The Madding Crowd tells the story of Bathsheba Everdene, a beautiful and independent young woman who is sought by three very different suitors. Gabriel Oak is the first man to fall in love with her, and after her rejection he falls upon hard times and is forced to seek work as a shepherd. Of course it is Bathsheba who eventually hires him. Her second suitor is one Farmer Boldwood, a moody and passionate man who is awakened to Bathsheba's charms by a foolish Valentine's Day card she sends him, quite in jest. And the third is a dashing officer, Sergeant Francis Troy, who is as captivating and handsome as he is selfish.Hardy really takes the time to set up his characters, and they are all very well written. Bathsheba in particular is a fascinating creation. In some ways she is quite a little feminist, having no inducement to the marriage state in the abstract that would tempt her to seize the chance when it is offered her. And after she catches her bailiff stealing, Bathsheba is determined to run her inherited farm herself ¿ an unprecedented act for a woman in that time. But Hardy was something of a misogynist, and often peppers his narrative with derogatory comments about the female sex. One such example is this:"'It was not exactly the fault of the hut,' she observed in a tone which showed her to be that novelty among women ¿ one who finished a thought before beginning the sentence which was to convey it."Or this:"When women are in a freakish mood, their usual intuition, either from carelessness or inherent defect, seemingly fails to teach them this, and hence it was that Bathsheba was fated to be astonished today."Everything sensible and strong and intelligent about Bathsheba ¿ and she is all of these things, despite her many faults ¿ is presented as an aberration in her sex. I don't like to judge works by the standards of a different time, but I certainly was occasionally annoyed with this misogyny. Other times, once I understood Hardy was like that, it amused more than offended me. Hardy's deep cynicism is not just directed toward women. God comes in for a fair share of the blame; Boldwood's disastrous encounters with Troy are called "Heaven's persistent irony" toward him. It is the gargoyles on the church, monstrosities sanctioned by religion, that are responsible for the horrific accident that disfigures Fanny's grave. Because of this mutilation, Troy's half-formed good resolutions produced by Fanny's death are instantly dashed, and the fault laid at Heaven's door:"To turn about would have been hard enough under the greatest providential encouragement; but to find that Providence, far from helping him into a new course, or showing any wish that he might adopt one, actually jeered his first trembling and critical attempt in that kind, was more than nature could bear."Apparently it is God's fault for not preventing this accident from occurring, for not helping this near-penitent on his new road. Indeed, it is almost as if God wants Troy to be damned and takes active steps to ensure that it is so. This is classic Hardy. And yet religion is not portrayed in a uniformly bad light; Gabriel is observed by Bathsheba in the very act of kneeling in prayer, in direct contrast to her agitated and rebellious frame of mind. The reader is left with the idea that this bedtime prayer is a ritual of Gabriel's, and that it has a not inconsiderable share in helping him face his troubles calmly and with dignity. The focus here is on the man, however, and not t
I love the way Thomas Hardy writes, so lush and evocative. This book is about a young woman with a very great sense of herself and loses it in a fit of emotion, and the man who loves her steadfastly and honestly with no strings attached. Wonderful book. I could read Hardy all day long.
Another great discovery ! I loved this classic, it's different from what I read before. A good portrait of the English Society, its stiff and untolerant rules against a patient soul but with a will unvincible. One of the best of the year!
It's a classic innit? It really is though. I'd forgotten just how good this is. The best thing is the way it evokes rural life in the West Country in the late 18th century. Marvellous and, unusually for Hardy, with a feel good ending.
I love Thomas Hardy's writing, as long as I continually remind myself to remain in the period. Bathsheba, the "heroine", as the author refers to her, is not exactly a role model for women of any period in my opinion. Of course, the men are driven mad, literally, by her spirit and beauty, and she remains insensitive, flighty, and totally impulse driven until the climax when she miraculously sees the error of her ways. I really like Gabriel Oak, my hero.
Fantastic read! A really challenging and rewarding book--a perfect example of advanced, proficient use of archaic language. Hardy's mastery of the English vocabulary is inspiring, but it took a lot of concentration to read.
All the story describe a shepherd. Gabriel Oak,whose love for Bathsheba is quiet and steady .He still loves Bathsheba from begin to the end .Before they didi not get together ,but at the end they get married .So what event makes them get married at last is the most important event .Oka loves Bathsheba ,but she did not love him before ,and she gets married with a handsome young soldier Troy.Before Troy met Bathsheba,he had a fiancee,who is Troy¿s most love person .But when they have a wedding , the bride was late ,so Troy canceled their wedding After Troy and Bath sheba get married .Troy see that girl again ,but that girl died at the second day ,so Troy very sad ,and fall into river .Every body think he is died .So Bathsheba get married with a middle-aged man Boldwood ,who has never been in love before . .On their wedding ,Troy appears.So Bathsheba does not want get married with Boldwood .It makes Boldwood very angry , and he kills Troy. The result is Troy died and Blodwood go to prison. At the end,Bathsheba¿s love is Dak , only he accompany with she .So they get married
The love story of Bathsheba and Gabriel Oak the shepherd takes a long time to come to a happy conclusion. There are class prejudices and pride in the way of their happiness and Bathsheba will learn to overcome her moral issues through a series of unhappy events.The chapters are divided in twelve (as the original publication was published in twelve, monthly, episodes), following the course of a year and following seasonal changes too. This lends a more realist touch to a tale that could just be very fictional (Wessex county is imaginary).In any case, the language is simple, easy to understand and the chapters are rather short. I just wish the OUP editors would include the original Allingham pictures with the text, as they lend a more dramatic illustration to key events.
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy centers on young Bathsheba Everdene, a strong fiery independent woman who has come into the good fortune of inheriting a farm in Hardy¿s Wessex. She will not allow herself to become dependent on a man and resolves to take care of her own farm and business. Bathsheba is also (of course) extremely beautiful and she knows this but is also very inexperienced in the ways of love and for the most part men. She is courted by three very different men, the first being Gabriel Oaks, who has the misfortune of losing his own farm in an accident, he contents himself by becoming the main shepherd on Bathsheba¿s farm and helping her in any way that he can even though she has declared to him that she does not love him or can never marry him because of the position he is in. The second man is Mr. Boldwood an older man, who owns the farm next to Bathsheba, he allows himself to become completely enamored with her and she becomes his only reason for living. The last man is a Sergeant Troy, who is young and very like Bathsheba in temperament and personality. These three men set the pace for the rest of the novel that takes readers on an emotional roller-coaster of plot twists and sub plots. This is the first Thomas Hardy novel that I have read and I was not sure what to expect. I have read very mixed reviews of his work and I was not sure how I was going to like this book. I have to admit that I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I think the strongest aspect of this book is the fact that all of the main characters have faults that readers can identify with even to this day. Bathsheba is really a woman before her time, she just wants to make a mark on the world and she is very ambitious and her main fault is her vanity. She is really like almost every woman I know, she just wants to be told that she is beautiful but at the same time she wants to be independent. It is easy to imagine her and identify with her; she really is one of the most honest characters I have read in a long time. Similarly, the three main men who compete for Bathsheba¿s attentions all have their faults. Gabriel Oaks is probably the most honest, hardworking, steadfast man in the novel but at the same time he is also a little boring and not super cultured. Mr. Boldwood takes his passion for Bathsheba to desperate levels, and is subject to dark and changing moods. As for Sergeant Troy, he is a rake, scoundrel and at times a cad. Overall, at times the story could move slowly but I thought that for the most part it flowed well and kept my attention. I will be looking forward to reading later novels by Thomas Hardy to compare with this one.
Reading as part of The Hardy reading group. It is about Bathesheba and the 3 men who love her - Gabriel Oak, Mr Boldwood and Sergeant Troy. each have their own qualities but it is Gabriel who loves her first and always. She rejects his initial marriage proposal because she does not love him. She comes to the attention of Boldwood, who has the farm next to her, after she sends him a Valentine's card partly in jest. Boldwood has difficulty accepting that she does not love him either, but gives her up when she becomes fascinated by Sergeant Troy, the educated soldier - fey in attachment, apart from drink, gambling and women as a whole - who is more in love with another woman but marries Bathsheba more for her money than anything. She soon learns her mistake and learns to hate him, especially when he keeps asking for money to go gambling. His possible death by drowning opens her up to be courted by Boldwood again, who continues to pressure her into committing to marry him, even when he knows she doesn't love him. A party at Christmas has a detrimental effect on all concerned. Finally, Gabriel, her one true love, gets his girl.This is the fourth of his books and the one I've enjoyed the most so far. It has a more consistent narrative, with fewer breaks, even though I believe this was also released in serial form.The descriptions of nature get better with this book. I believe the description of salvaging the crops during the storm is considered to be a classic scene of the genre. Boldwood is a disconcerting and not very nice character, poor of social graces, who falls in love with a woman he's never talked to and virtually bullies her into committing to an engagement that she doesnt want. (Everyone agrees in the end that he's more than a little mad).Troy is a glittering distraction, who can also manipulate women (but in a different way), playing on Bathesheba's insecurities in order to make her marry him immediately (she goes to Bath to talk to him and he "suggests" that he'll have to give in to chasing after some other pretty girl if she doesnt marry him immediately, so she does). Gabriel is solid and steady, watching her make mistakes but never letting her down, even though he still loves her. As for Bathesheba? I dont know about her. I think she grows up during this book, finally marrying the man we all know she should have in the first place. She manages to take care of her uncle's farm, even though some people think she wont and does realise her mistake in marrying Troy, especially the way she did it.
The mainspring of the book centres around Bathsheba Everdene and her three suitors. And, in portraying her caprice and wilfulness gradually crushed by bitter self-knowledge and rejection.
I was made to read this in English Literature at school when I was 14. Absolutely hated it, so full of flowery language that I skipped whole sections and completely missed the story. I came back to it when attempting to read through the BBC Big Read top 200 at the age of 34. I really wasn't looking forward to it, but of course this time round I loved it. Yes, Hardy is quite verbose, but this is basically a very good story, with characters you can warm to. At the age of 14 I was made to write an essay on whether or not Gabriel Oak is a too-good-to-be-true caricature. Asked that question now, I would say yes of course he is... and I don't care a bit.
Bought 1980s, read for the Hardy Reading ProjectA truly amazing book: rich, beautiful writing and a page turner. A big step forward in his writing, I felt. Proud Bathsheba thinks she can outwit love but is floored bu it; her suitors have very different fates from one another and the landscape, the stars and the animals provide a wonderful backdrop. The local farmhands are done with a lighter touch; still comical but not so laboured, somehow, and there are some beautiful scenes, for example Gabriel's observation of the movement of the stars. My favourite quotation was another bird-related one: "No Christmas robin detained by a window-pane ever pulsed as did Bathsheba now" (p. 247).I studied this for O level but had forgotten the story, although certain rather random scenes and descriptions, such as Gabriel's face and the round hill he stands upon, were very familiar. Truly a privilege and a joy to re-read this book.
WellIts a fable in my opinion that says the 'steady reliable' man will win a fair maidens hand in the long run.It reads and feels like a penguin classic novel. I can imagine all the 15 yrs old pawing over the language and clever pieces of prose.Me - well I thought it was ok but I must say that the latter third of the book I even enjoyed. Its perfect for those of you who like a clever use of language and lots of smart descriptions. If you like me who are so keen on such things then it can be hard work at times
Loved it!! I thought this was so much better than Jude the Obscure. It took me a couple of chapters to really get into. By the middle of the book I couldn't put it down. A challenge to read because of the language and it does get pretty wordy in terms of Hardy¿s description of the scenery and all... Definitely worth it though. Highly recommend to all ages.
I found this to be one of the least depressing Thomas Hardy books I've read. It is set in an idyllic pastoral setting in England, and follows Batsheba, a beautiful independent farmer that has 3 men completly in love with her. Of course, being a Hardy novel there are some dark melodramatic moments. I didn't like it as much as Jude the Obscure, but worth the read.
This is a classic tale of English country life and of a young woman who makes some very bad (or perhaps just thoughtless) decisions regarding the men in her life. Bathsheba Everdene is courted by three men: a simple yet honest farmer whom she feels is not good enough for her, a reclusive neighbor whom she feels obligated to marry, and a dashing but untrustworthy sergeant who brings her great grief.In many respects I highly enjoyed this novel. An admitted fan of classic literature, I loved the beautifully descriptive vocabulary and the richness of Hardy's allusions. He truly brings his setting and characters to life. I also enjoyed the simple country characters and their various idiosyncrasies. However, I was at times irritated by Miss Everdene's seeming lack of discernment in her personal life, when she seemed to have such a good understanding of business and life in general. But it is through Miss Everdene¿s character that the author shows us the consequences and possible miseries of hasty decisions and thoughtless words. At the end, the novel seems to come full circle and leaves readers with a fairly happy ending although it is mostly a bittersweet journey up to that point.
I read this many years ago and it is one of Hardy's best novels.
One of the things to put me off classical literature - much as I love it really - is that so much seems contrived. A character disappears, is forgotten about, and returns at a critical juncture, changing the course of the story. Two characters, who seem to have nothing in common, actually do, and then it's something really strange and unlikely that unites them. Basically, it's like "Lost" writ large.Hardy, one of the Romantics, was guilty of many of the crimes I list above, though he cannot be blamed for what was taken so seriously for so long. "Far From the Madding Crowd" is spoilt by these contrivances; it is still worth reading as an early feminist novel (though written by a man it concerns the life and loves of one woman), and if you are interested in the English countryside you'll find this fascinating.