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MonkeyNotes-Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
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Chapter 16

It is a weekday morning in the church, and the service is just over. The congregation at All Saints' is surprised to see a young soldier, in uniform, marching up the aisle. The people are curious about his presence and purpose; therefore, they are in no hurry to go home. The soldier talks briefly to the priest, and then the clerk and his wife are called to the chancel steps. The rumor soon spreads that a wedding is to take place. The clock strikes 11:30, but the bride does not appear. The soldier is quite noticeably embarrassed; he stands rooted at attention without the slightest movement.

The delay in the arrival of the bride causes a stirring in the crowd. They whisper and sometimes giggle. By the time the clock strikes noon, Fanny has still not arrived and the curate and clerk leave the chancel. The soldier turns round, faces the curious crowd, and then firmly marches out of the church. He crosses the paved square opposite the church and meets a young woman, very much frightened and sad. She goes up to him and tells him of her error in having gone to All Souls' Church, where she had waited for a quarter of an hour. She asks him if the wedding can be held the next day. The soldier, however, is too annoyed and embarrassed; he tells her that he will never go through the same experience for a long time. She begs him to forgive her, and once again asks him whether the wedding can be held the next day. He makes an ironic remark, brushes her aside, and quickly leaves.


Notes

Hardy builds up an atmosphere of tension related to Fanny. The mystery surrounding her earlier is made more intense by her not showing up for the wedding. The heavy silence in the church, as Troy stands waiting for his expected bride, adds to the tension. The scene ends with Fanny's hopes of ever marrying Troy being completely dashed. Hurt by his humiliation before the congregation and priest, Troy directs his anger against poor Fanny, who is totally confused. From the way Troy behaves with Fanny, Hardy throws more light on his basic character. The author also shows how Fate again has a hand in the plot. If Fanny had not confused All Souls' with All Saints', she would have become Troy's wife, thereby preventing him from marrying Bathsheba.

The tragic circumstances of the missed marriage foreshadow the tragic consequences for both Troy and Fanny later on in the novel. Troy is a very proud man. His over-reaction to poor Fanny's mistake will prove to be an even greater mistake later on. He will live to regret the careless statement that he has made and his cruel treatment of Fanny. Troy would have been better off if he had forgiven Fanny and married her on the next day.

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MonkeyNotes-Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

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