Far from the madding crowd’ is set in the late 1860s to the early 1870s

Far from the madding crowd’ is set in the late 1860s to the early 1870s

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Far from the madding crowd’ is set in the late 1860s to the early 1870s
in Wessex, a fictional county based heavily on Dorset.

Far From The Madding Crowd

Thomas hardy was born in 1840 in Dorset which is located near
Dorchester. Hardy's first important novel was Far from the Madding
Crowd in which he successfully adapted to a traditional form to his
own purposes, slightly changing it in the process. His novel states
the importance of man's connection to, and understanding of, the
natural world. The story is set in an agricultural rural community. He
viewed the industrial revolution as a major threat to the communities
he loved. The main character in this novel is a shepherd who is called
Gabriel, this gives off a very pastoral mood in the novel. The plot
develops complications when Bathsheba has love for three different
men. Gabriel Oak who is the shepphard embodies Hardy's ideal of a life
in harmony with the forces of the natural world. Throughout the entire
novel there are unusual twists and turns and in the end Bathsheba
ultimately marries Gabriel, whom she had turned away so long ago. In
the story of all Thomas Hardy’s novels, both love and fate play major

In the first chapter we are introduced to Gabriel oak. He is a young
sheppard. The main incident starts when Gabriel is walking in the
countryside and he sees a wagon travelling down the road, and sees
this young attractive woman is sitting on top if it. The Waggoner
comes to a halt when they reached the gatekeeper and they had to pay a
fee of three pence but the woman refused and only offered two pence.
Gabriel stepped forward and paid the gatekeeper the rest of the fee
and he insisted to let the women pass.

‘Far from the madding crowd’ is set in the late 1860s to the early
1870s in Wessex, a fictional county based heavily on Dorset. The
village where Gabriel oak lives is in a small rural community. Many
people such as Oak liked to hold onto their traditional views and
values. Nowadays many of these views would be considered conservative
and possibly outdated. Oak being a Shepard is very significant because
it links back to the bible, so there are a lot of religious and
biblical references in this novel. Most people went to church on
Sunday. Church was very important. We learn that Gabriel Oak goes to
church but doesn’t take it seriously. Hardy uses rural dialect to
bring the minor characters to life, this gives them some personality.
‘Higgling matter’. Even though it is a winter’s day it is described as

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being spring. There is a reference to the girl having ‘vernal charm’.
This symbolizes as spring which is associated with a new start. The
new start in this case is Gabriel’s and the women’s relationship.

From the very beginning of chapter one, we have been given a positive
description of Gabriel oak from Thomas Hardy. In paragraph one, we
have been given a description of farmer Oak having a big cheerful

‘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 around them’

Gabriel's name is very significant in relation to his character, which
refers back to the bible comparing with the angel Gabriel, but he is
not just meant to be a holy saint, he is a very real person with very
human feelings, and this becomes obvious as his relationship with
Bathsheba grows. Also Gabriel’s second name, Oak, is significant as
well because it represents and oak tree, which is large, strong,
reliable and independent. An oak tree has lengthy roots, this is a
comparison with Gabriel because he is traditional and he also likes to
hold onto his roots.

Thomas Hardy has described his personality as a ‘young man of sound
judgments, easy motions, proper dress and a general good character’.
For farmer oaks physical features he has been described as being a
well built person. He looks young ‘curves of youth’ and also there is
a quote stating that oak looks youthful and he ages very slowly
(appearance wise), e.g. ‘Tarried’.

Oak is seen as an open minded person, we know that he likes old things
like the small pocket watch (‘fob’) he carries around with him, this
could be sentimental to him,‘ this instrument, being several years
older than Oaks grandfathers’. Oak is ‘proper dressed’, he wears large
boots and also wears a huge coat, the huge coat is referred back to Dr
Johnson, who is a very important man of history, he was the first
person to write the very first dictionary, ‘and a coat like Dr
Johnson’s’ this is significant because Dr Johnson used to carry around
a dictionary around with him in his large pocket, and in this case
Gabriel being a Shepard carries lambs in his pocket. From the opinion
of others, farmer Oak is seen as a ‘rather bad man’ by other people,
the other characters view him in a way that’s linked to their mood, so
depending what mood they are in, they have different views about Oak.
They have no fixed opinion of him.

We have been given a lot of effective descriptive information by Hardy
for the first impressions of the girl. We find out that the
mysterious girl is called Bathsheba. This is significant because it is
a biblical name, which is in the Old Testament, which has a comparison
with Bathsheba. Gabriel sees the ‘mysterious’ girl, she is sitting on
top of the wagon, this could tell us that she wants to be important,
that she likes to be on top of things, so everyone can see her. “The
girl on the summit of a load”. In the description of the girl in the
first paragraph, there are a lot of references about the girl feeling
trapped and restricted. ‘Surrounded by tables and chairs with their
legs upwards’. Hardy also uses animal imagery, showing the girls
restriction, ‘Cage canary’. Also hardy mentions a cactus which are
spiky and strong, this could suggest that if the girl wanted to escape
she could get hurt, ‘...And cactuses together’. Again hardy uses
animal imagery to describe the girl being trapped, ‘there was also a
cat in a willow basket, from the partly opened lid of which she gazed
with half closed eyes’. This tells that she is restricted to what she
can do ‘partly opened lid’ ‘she gazed with half closed eyes’. The
reference to the cactus, maybe the girl also has a spiky side to her.
The girl could be caring because she has two pets and she could be
seen as special because she is surrounded by flowers, ‘ornamented in
front by pots of geraniums, myrtles’. Thomas hardy describes the girl
to being attractive, ‘handsome girl’. Hardy uses a lot of strong, calm
and composed sentences, ‘motionless’ ‘waited some time idly in her

‘She looked attentively downwards’. This gives the writing a peaceful
atmosphere. In the second paragraph, Hardy uses a lot of effective
techniques to build up to reveal what is inside the package, ‘her
thought seeming to run upon what was inside it’. The girl seems
narcissistic when she looked at herself in the swing looking glass.
She likes what she sees, ‘survey herself attentively. She parted lips
and smiled’. In the third paragraph semantic fields are used (visual
imagery). Hardy uses bright colours to describe the girl’s
personality. ‘Sun lighted’ ‘scarlet glow and crimson jacket’ these
colours tell you that the girl has a strong, positive and passionate
personality. The girl remains self conscious, she again looks at
herself in the mirror, ‘she blushed at herself, and seeing her
reflection blush, blushed some more’, this shows the girl is vain as
well as narcissistic. The sentence structure echoes the reflective
process of the mirror, the verb ‘blushed’ is repeated again and again

When the two characters first meet in the novel Gabriel sees a
carriage loaded with furniture on top of the hill and Bathsheba is
sitting on top of it. He becomes interested in the lady sitting on top
of the hill and as the carriage is about to leave he “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
the toll.” Oak is obviously interested in the lady but the scene
unfolds as Bathsheba decides not to pay the turnpike keeper the two
pence that he wants. Gabriel approaches and gives the keeper the
money. ‘Let the young woman pass’.

Bathsheba is neither pleased nor dismissive of Oak yet because of him
she has lost her point. She thinks nothing of it apart from being a
little disgruntled and carries but Gabriel talks to the gatekeeper who
mentions her vanity. This casual meeting introduces the two characters
to each other for the first time; little does Bathsheba know that this
seemingly insignificant farmer will play such a great role in her
life. Analyzing the first meeting, we can see that Bathsheba doesn’t
take much notice of Gabriel. But Gabriel certainly notices her, and
describes her in different ways. He thinks Bathsheba is original; she
is different compared to other women ‘freshness of originality’.
Gabriel says that she looks natural “fair product of nature in the
feminine”. This refers back to were Gabriel states that she is
original. Where Bathsheba shows no appreciation for the generosity of
Gabriel paying the rest of the fee off. “For she carelessly glanced
over him”. This is contrast, because it’ shows little she thought of
Gabriel, she showed no gratitude. ‘She might have looked her thanks to
Gabriel on a minute scale, but she did not speak to them’. Towards the
end Gabriel discuss the girl’s faults, he acknowledged that Bathsheba
was vain ‘and said vanity’.

Throughout the novel, chapter 1 is the most important. It gives us the
story outline on what is to come later on in the novel. Chapter 1
mirrors the plot in the rest of the novel, with it ending up of
Gabriel and Bathsheba coming together. Hardy uses a lot of clever
techniques into revealing the plot of the novel. ‘In which men would
play apart-vistas of probable triumphs’

This tells us that Bathsheba will have a lot of men playing a part in
her life, this describes the main plot. ‘Vistas of probable triumph’
predicts Bathsheba’s relationships with 3 men in her life, because
later on in the novel Bathsheba has 3 lovers, Gabriel, Sergeant Troy
and Bold wood.

In the early stage of the novel we discover positive and negative
sides of Bathsheba’s character. Firstly when Bathsheba at first comes
in she is wearing red, this shows evil or danger. She argues with the
tollgate because she doesn’t want to pay, this shows what kind of
character she is. Bathsheba gets annoyed that Gabriel paid the money
for her, she wanted to get her own way and not pay. When they first
speak Gabriel calls her vain, she does not reply which signifies that
this could be true. Fortunes turn around with Bathsheba, and Gabriel.
He loses all of his sheep and becomes unemployed. While at the same
time Bathsheba’s fortunes get better when she inherits a farm off her
uncle. However they meet again when Gabriel saves Bathsheba’s life
from the fire incident. Bathsheba is faced with another disaster later
on in the novel. Her sheep had run into a clover field and could have
died if not treated. She becomes turns angry and blames someone else.
This shows us that when something bad happens she instantly blames
somebody else. She does not stop and think whether it could be her
wrong doing that has caused such a thing. She becomes helpless,
However she asks Gabriel to help, she sent a note demanding that
Gabriel to come and help. This showed that she is very impolite,
rather than asking Gabriel nicely to come she ‘demanded’ him to come.
He replied that he would not until he was addressed more courteously.
Desperately she asked him again. When he came, the sheep were saved,
and Bathsheba ‘smiled on him’, at this point Bathsheba’s attitude
changes towards him.

Later on in the play Bathsheba’s other lover, Sergeant Troy fled the
village after finding Fanny’s coffin. When he reached the seaboard he
disrobed to take a swim. The strong current nearly drowned him, but
fortunately a boat came to his rescue. A passer noticed his clothes on
the beach as if they had been drawn in and a conclusion was made that
he had drowned. Troy did not hesitate to take the opportunity of this
conclusion and he moved to America so everyone believed he was dead.
However Bathsheba relieved by his disappearance was not convinced by
the slightest, that he had drowned. This shows that she has
intelligence and sticks with her own independent ideas.

Now Boldwood believing in the theory was overwhelmed and urged over
and over again for Bathsheba to marry him. She decided that if Troy
did not return, she would marry Boldwood. After this Troy burst into
the doors to take Bathsheba. At the same time she fainted, then an
annoyed Boldwood shot Troy killing him instantly. Bathsheba was under
so much pressure, she had had enough of this trouble. Boldwood after
trying but failing to commit suicide but failed handed himself into
the institution later to be confirmed that it was life in there. Oak
was now the only lover left. He was not forgotten but had dwindled in
the novel into the background. He nursed Bathsheba until she was well.
He then declared that he was going to move to America for a better
life. On that account Bathsheba realised that she needed and loved
him. Then later they had the most secretive and quietist wedding there
could be. Bathsheba had finally found the man she wanted. By this
experience she realised that faithfulness, honesty and devotion were
precious emotions too. Bathsheba starts to realise who she is and who
she wants. Her maturity finally comes to her and she takes life
seriously and tries to get it sorted out.

The other character in this novel is Fanny Robin, who used to be a
servant at the Wethearbury farm. The name Fanny Robin is very
significant. I can see that from Fanny’s surname that hardy wanted to
create connotations to her surname and this was just the simplicity of
her character. Robin gives an idea of an animal that is small, fragile
and beautiful but is also vulnerable and timid. I can see that this
tends to be true from when the novel is read further. There is also a
reference to this in the novel to this, ‘A slim, poorly clad girl’. To
describe Fanny robin as a character she is a direct contrast to
Bathsheba. Fanny Robin is blond and timid which fixes her second name
‘Robin’ and while this Bathsheba is dark and lively. Fanny is also a
shadowy character and is adding mystery to the plot. When sergeant
Troy fails to keep his promise to marry her, Fanny becomes upset and
this is leading her to death because she is not strong enough in body
or mind. Although when looking at which of Fanny’s characteristics are
significant it becomes most important to see that Hardy’s aim in this
situation of why Hardy introduced Robin to this story. Robin’s death
in particular shows the reader how Bathsheba has changed throughout
the novel. When she learns of Fanny's death, she seems genuinely upset
and does not seem to be relieved that her rival is dead. We can see
that she has matured a lot and is less hasty, but calmer than she was
when she was first introduced into the novel in chapter one.

In Hardy’s novels, fate plays a major part. From the start of the
novel fate always played a part, there are references to fate by
Thomas hardy, ‘then fate dealt Gabriel’. Gabriel’s sheep had died and
he was in poverty, then he slept in a cart, that night the cart
carried him to where Bathsheba lived, this was fate. Also later on in
the novel it is also fate that Fanny confuses the two churches. Fanny
mistakenly walks into the wrong chapel for her wedding with troy and
troy impatient and embarrassed by her late arrival, didn’t want to
marry her.

Once again there is more fate involved with the character Fanny Robin
where Troy has been looking for Fanny but re-encounters her when it’s
too late and Troy has married Bathsheba. The chance has been enrolled
in Fanny’s role, this is when Troy keeps a lock of Fanny’s hair and
Bathsheba finds it by chance and she gets jealous, this causes extreme
arguments between Bathsheba and Troy and gives Bathsheba a clue to
Fanny’s identity and this helps the coming together of Gabriel and
Bathsheba, because Bathsheba begins to change.

For my personal opinion I think that chapter one is a very effective
first chapter and it made me want to read on and see what happens
further on in the novel. I think the main plot was suggested in
chapter one and that gave us an idea on how the novel would be later
on. Hardy used a lot of interesting techniques to make the story
interesting. He gave an in-depth description on the main characters,
which gave us an idea on how the characters really are. Hardy
introduces the characters in an interesting way, like the first
meeting between Bathsheba and Gabriel, Hardy shows Gabriel as being
generous, giving money to the gate keeper, where was Bathsheba
remained vain and impolite, showing no appreciation.
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