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At the start of the story, we are told by Liddy that Boldwood "took
her and put her to school and got her a place here with your uncle."
And that "he's a very kind man." With this, we can see that Boldwood
is regarded highly in the eyes of the country folk. However, when he
fell for Bathsheba, he became an emotional wreck and his hay ricks
ruined as he didn't collect them in before the storm. By doing this,
he is shirking his responsibilities. As Gabriel said, "A few months
earlier Boldwood's forgetting his husbandry would have been as
preposterous as a sailor forgetting he was in a ship." Boldwood
forgetting his hay ricks was a huge clue to how much Bathsheba's
marriage had affected him. At the end of the story, he tried to take
his own life and was only stopped by his worker Sam. Compared to the
dignified and respected Boldwood we saw at the start of the novel,
this is a drastic change.
Similarly, Troyshirks his responsibilities and drags the rest of the
workers down with him as well by practically forcing them to drink. He
tells them that "If any of the men show the white feather, let them
look else where for a winter's work." By saying this, the men had been
left with no choice but to do what he told them to. He shows contempt
towards Gabriel's suggestion that the hay ricks should be covered in
order to protect them from the rain. In the end Gabriel had to do it
all by himself as the workers had been too drunk to work. "He saw at
once that if the ricks were to be saved that night, or even the nest
morning, he would have to save them with his own hands." The author
has shown a contrast in the attitudes if Frank Troy and Gabriel Oak.
Clearly, Troydid the worker's harm more than good. Therefore, their
working relationship with the workers show their worth or lack of
worth. Also, the author makes it clear that the workers are not to
blame in this matter as they had been suitably apologetic and
embarrassed the day after. "the others shambled after with a
conscience stricken air."
Move plot along.
At many points of the story, the major characters find out many things
that have affected the way the story has been played out from the
minor characters. Therefore, although these characters are 'minor',
and never actually gets much attention from the reader in the story,
they are always somewhere in the background Thomas Hardy has painted
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shirk. Perhaps, Thomas Hardy is again emphasising that although
country life is simple, it is much better than the bustling life of
the city where nobody has time for appreciating nature or helping
When Gabriel was on his way to Weatherbury, he had wanted to sleep in
what he assumed to be an abandoned wagon. But, when he was sleeping,
the wagon had started moving and he had heard the men who were driving
it talking. They were talking about a lady. "Yes- she's very vain.
'Tis said that every night at going to bed she looks on the glass to
put on her nightcap properly." At hat moment of time, Gabriel had
already suspected that this woman could be Bathsheba. If this wagon
hadn't been driven to Weatherbury, Gabriel would have never got off at
where he did, thus, he wouldn't have spotted the fire. "Oak watched
it, and the glow increased. Something was on fire." And therefore, he
might not have seen Bathsheba for the rest of her life and his. Here
the minor characters, Joseph Poorgrass and Billy Smallbury, have
played a big part in bringing Gabriel to the scene of the fire, albeit
without their knowledge.
Also, Boldwood's obsession with Bathsheba had been sparked off by
Liddy's suggestion: to send the valentines card previously intended
for Teddy Coggan to Boldwood. "What fun it would be to send it to the
stupid old Boldwood and how he would wonder!" By saying this, she had
directly led to the devastating effect it had on Boldwood. Had that
valentine been sent to Teddy, the string of reactions that followed it
would not have had a chance to happen. Boldwood would still have been
a well-respected and successful farmer, and Bathsheba would not have
been riddled with guilt for sending that valentine. Boldwood wouldn't
be caught up in this obsession about Bathsheba that caused him to
neglect everything else.
When Fanny Robins died, Joseph Poorgrass was given the task of getting
the coffin from the union back to Weatherbury. But on his way to
Weatherbury, her stopped for a drink with Mark Clark who persuaded him
to have more drinks till he was almost totally drunk and had forgotten
the task set for him. "All's the matter with me is the affliction
called an multiplying eye, and that's how I look double to you- I
mean, you look double to me." Because of this, Fanny Robin's coffin
had to be kept in Bathsheba's house for the night. If Fanny Robins had
been buried without Bathsheba ever having the chance to find out who
was in the coffin with her, she would never have found out that Troy
had actually slept with her before.
Act as confidantes.
When Bathsheba was really confused about what to believe about Troy,
she couldn't tell anybody because she didn't want people to talk
behind her back. So to relive her emotions, she poured out her
feelings to Liddy instead of letting it stay cooped up instead her.
She says to Liddy. "I must let it out to somebody; it is wearing me
away!" Through her talking about how she feels about Troyto Liddy, the
author shows very clearly what her dilemma about Troy is all about.
"But Liddy, he cannot be bad, as it said. Do you hear?" Also, through
this conversation, we also see Liddy through new eyes as Bathsheba
calls Liddy her companion. "You are not as a servant - you are a
companion to me." At the beginning, Liddy is seen as somewhat silly
and fickle with her opinion. "" But now, the reader sees that she is a
great friend to have and admires her.
Overhear or observe the major characters' actions.
At one point of the story, Bathsheba went off with Boldwood and was
afraid of what the men would think of her. She asked Gabriel "if the
men made any observations on my going behind the sedge with Mr
Boldwood yesterday." This shows that what the workers think of her
matter quite a lot as if they thought that she was a frivolous woman,
they might not work as well for her.
Boldwood's workers overhear him speaking to himself before the
Christmas party at which he would have Bathsheba's answer on whether
she would marry him after seven years or not. Through the workers, the
readers realise the full extent of Boldwood's obsession about
Bathsheba. "I hope to God she'll come, or this night will be nothing
bit misery to me! O my darling, my darling, why do you keep me in
suspense like this? " Also, one of his workers said: "I thought that
fancy of his was long over." This tells us that to the outside world,
Boldwood seems fairly normal and he seems to be getting on with his
life quite well, while in actual fact, he is still in the clutches of
his craze about Bathsheba.
Show off the charms of simple country life.
Thomas Hardy described the malt house as a place where there was great
hospitality and cosiness. "The room inside was lighted only by the
ruddy glow from the kiln mouth". Gabriel also brings the lamb ether.
This shows us the hospitality of the old malter. "If twasn't for your
place here old malter, I don't know what I should do" The author shows
us that although life in the country is simple, it has all the aspects
of how comfortable it is there.
The other country folks also show respect to the malter by agreeing
with him when he thinks that he is a hundred and seventeen years old
even though his son rightly said: "You turnip hoeing were in the
summer and you malting in the winter of the same years and ye don't
ought to count both halves, father" We approve of the compassion that
these characters show to the old malter by agreeing with him instead
of starting a huge debate on his age.
On Boldwood's first visit to Bathsheba's farm, she refused to see him
because she was in a dishevelled state and didn't want him to see her
that way. Thus, she told Mrs Coogan to tell Boldwood that to "say that
I can't see him- that will do." Instead, Ms Coggan says that and then
adds a little more information to justify the reason. She tells Mr
Boldwood that "Miss is dusting bottles, sir, and is quite a object-
that's why 'tis." This makes us smile, and at the same time admire the
frankness of country folk at that time.
When Boldwood had been convicted, they all hoped that he wouldn't be
given the death sentence although he had killed Troy. They still
respected him for what he was before the whole affair with Bathsheba
happened. Also, they understood Boldwood enough not to go to the
trial. Jan coogan says that "Twill disturb his mind more than anything
to see us there staring at him as if he were a show." We admire the
way they understand basic manners and respect towards this man while
in the city, there would probably be a big ado about it. Thomas Hardy
shows us that country folks are more well mannered inside while the
city folk have manners only for show.
Reveal the attitude of author.
In Far from a Madding Crowd, the author has made it clear that he
treats city life with disdain and admires the simple rural life that
can be found in the country. To show this, he has added several
characters who are meant to be the embodiment of everything simple and
rustic. Examples of these characters include Liddy, Bathsheba's
servant but also confidant and friend. Joseph Poorgrass, who seems to
have a great love for drink, Jan Coggan also, has that particular
characteristic. "And so you see 'twas beautiful ale, and I wished to
value his kindness as much as I could, and not to be so ill-mannered
as to drink only a thimbleful, which would have been insulting to the
man's generosity." This makes the reader laugh because we think that
drinking that much would be rude and Jan Coggan is trying to prove
Cainy Ball seems to be an unfortunate creature who always manages to
do everything wrong or get into a scrape or another. Even his name was
an unfortunate accident. "his pore mother, not being a Scripture-read
woman, made a mistake at his christening, thinking 'twas Abel killed
Cain and called en Cain meaning Abel all the time." We can't help but
laugh at the funniness of the situation he is in.
Laban tall seems to be a very hen-pecked husband and someone who can't
speak for himself. Again, this character was created to make us laugh.
His is constantly referred to as "Susan Tall's husband" when the usual
way to address his wife if her name wasn't used was to be "Laban
Tall's wife". Thus, there seems to be a reversal of roles here which
we find amusing.
The author has written about these characters in such a way that we
are meant to be fond of them as they make us laugh. In contrast, the
way Troy is portrayed makes him 'the bad guy of the story'. Troy is
meant to represent the ways of country life and they're superficies.
Represent values of which the author approves.
Gabriel is shown by the author as the epitome of goodness and in
Gabriel he has instilled all the values which he thinks that all
people should hold true. Even Gabriel's name, shows that Thomas Hardy
regards Gabriel with high esteem. Gabriel's name was from God's most
trusted angel, Gabriel. This is how we are meant to look at Gabriel,
someone who was to be trusted. The word Oak makes associates him with
the strong and study oak tree, never shaken by any set-backs and he
could be depended upon for consistency.
At the start of the book, Gabriel was being described through the
opinion of others in his neighbourhood. The author used impressions he
made on other people to show the reader what he was like. "In his face
one might notice that many hues and curves of youth had tarried on to
manhood: there remained in his remoter crannies some relics of the
boy." This helps us to form a visual image of him in our minds. We can
see Gabriel Oak as someone who is mature, yet not too old. By doing it
this way, the other has managed to show us that in the countryside,
the opinions of the people around you are highly valued.
Also, at the fire, all the people co-operated. It seemed like the
whole village was there to try to help. Everybody lent a helping hand.
"On the ground, the groups of villagers were still occupied in doing
all they could to keep down the conflagration" Again, Thomas Hardy
emphasises the pureness of country life and how everybody sets other
people before themselves.
At the end of the story, the country folks appeared outside Gabriel's
house, after his wedding. "their ears were greeted with the firing of
a cannon, followed what seemed like a tremendous blowing of trumpets."
This showed us that the country folks had placed their stamp of
approval on them.
Gabriel strived to be accepted by the people in Weatherbury by trying
to conform to what their society was like. Although he wasn't used to
drinking and eating things with layers of ash and grime on them, he
pretended that he didn't really mind so as to make the villagers
believe that he didn't think that it was beneath himself to do such
things. "I never fuss about dirt in its pure state, and when I know
what sort it is." This shows that the opinion of people at that time
did indeed matter a lot to individuals just as it does in our own
society today. If Gabriel hadn't acted in the way he did, he probably
would have never had been accepted into this circle of workers and
instead would be isolated from the rest of them.