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MonkeyNotes-Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
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THEMES

The central theme of the novel is the value of true love. Bathsheba Everdene is a charming woman who suffers from vanity and pride. Three men come into her life. First she rejects Gabriel Oak as too common for her. Next, she trifles with the feelings of Farmer Boldwood until she makes him fall deeply in love with her. Then she rejects his proposal of marriage. Then she falls into the trap laid by Sergeant Troy, a philanderer who has already had an affair with innocent Fanny Robin. He hides his love of Fanny and marries Bathsheba, largely because she is a beautiful woman, a challenge for his ego, and a wealthy businesswoman. The marriage is marred by conflict between the two caused by Troy's spendthrift ways and lack of concern for the farm. When Bathsheba learns about Fanny, the marriage is virtually over. Troy tells his wife that he never loved her and leaves town. Obviously, Troy's love was not true love. Farmer Boldwood, still obsessed by Bathsheba, comes back on the scene after Troy's disappearance and manipulates Bathsheba into a promise of marrying him in six years. Bathsheba does not love Boldwood, but agrees only because she feels guilty about her earlier treatment of him and worries about him going insane. This certainly is not true love. On the night Boldwood plans to give Bathsheba an engagement ring, Troy reappears at the party Boldwood is giving. Unable to cope with the thought of losing Bathsheba once again, he shoots Troy. This opens the way for the loyal Oak's marriage to Bathsheba, who by now has overcome her vanity and is mature enough to recognize the true love offered by Gabriel Oak.


The next theme is that nature provides great solace. Gabriel Oak is the personification of this theme. He is a natural farmer, totally in love with the land and in tune with nature. He finds peace in the harmony of the landscape, the harvesting of crops, and the beauty of a starlit night. He truly lives in communion with nature and "far from the madding crowd." The novel's title is taken from Gray's Elegy, Written in a Country Churchyard. The poem describes the country people who have led a life of peace and harmony "far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife." In this novel, Hardy, with great care and detail, describes the rural countryside of Wessex. He paints a picture of the landscape, with its hills and plains. He notices the peace and quiet of the neighborhood, the insects and animals and they scurry on their way, the growth of crops, and the stars in the night sky. He portrays the villagers as self sufficient and unhurried. By nature, they are kind and helpful to one another. In the midst of this beauty and serenity he places his protagonist Gabriel Oak, who throughout the novel truly lives "far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife."

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MonkeyNotes-Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

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