Feminism and love karma in Thomas Hardy’s classic “Far from The Madding Crowd”

Credit for informatik.uni-hamburg.de

Three good-looking gentlemen fall in love with Bathsheba Everdene the first moments they catch her glimpses. Well, who doesn’t? Young, pretty, confident, and smart. What makes Bathsheba worth loving is her strength amid hardships she is facing in early pages of the classic reading. That is such a rare quality for a woman living in the middle of the 19th century back in rural areas in England.

Gabriel Oak, a skillful farmer and shephard, meets her unintentionally when she enters the village he lives on. Oak can’t take his eyes off from her ever since the meeting. He then seeks for information about her whereabouts then finally he overhears her conversation with her aunt in a night. They are poor and Bathsheba is clueless on what she has to do to make ends meet.

Oak tries hard to approach her. But Bathsheba plays a hard game. Feeling so deeply in love, Oak then proposes her given the fact he is a well-to-do farmer while she is a poor girl. But Bathsheba turns it down, saying she does not love him. Despite his disappointment, Oak moves on with his life while hoping Bathsheba changes her mind one day. Meanwhile, Bathsheba leaves the village.

A misfortune falls for him one night. All of his sheeps are dies. His place is burned down. Oak is at the bottom of his life. Having nothing expect some clothes and a flute. He wanders all along for a livelihood. Back in his mind, he always wants to search for Bathsheba.

A coincidence occurs when he unintentionally rescues a house from a fire. From some servants working in the house, Oak learns that the mistress is looking for a shephard. They tell him to talk with the mistress who is walking out from the burning home. Oak chases her and begs for a job. When he looks up, he is surprised to know that he is speaking to Bathsheba.

Oak is a very diligent servant. And Bathsheba now turns to be an elegant mistress. Her uncle bequeathes a very large farm for her. She runs the place all alone with the helps of some servants. She enjoys taking care of jobs that are usually done by men. She shops, sells, instructs her servants quite well. All of her servants respect her just like a master.

Oak and Bathsheba’s relationship comes naturally more as a servant and mistress. Sometimes, they act like close friends, especially when Bathsheba asks for advice from him. Earlier marriage proposal is out of the topic since Oak knows how low his position is.

Bathsheba is very close to Liddy, one of the female servants in the house. To her confidante, she tells a lot of secrets, including when she meets respectable nearby farmer Mr. Boldwood.

From Liddy, Bathsheba knows his tragic love fate. He has love relationships with some women but to no marriages. Liddy says they leave him for some certain reasons. Bathsheba seems to develop an admiration for him. So in the Valentine’s day, she has a crazy idea to send a love letter to him containing words “marry me”, anonymously.

Puzzled by the very short letter, Boldwood comes to Oak and asks for the riddle. By looking at the handwriting, Oak knows well who writes that.

Boldwood, who adore Bathsheba’s beauty, encourages himself to visit her during a busy day. He boldly ask for her to marry him since he believes she does want that because of the letter. To his surprise, Bathsheba declines his proposal. She apologizes for what she has done. She blames on Liddy who succesfully persuades her to write that kind of letter. She admits she only admires him. But her confession comes a bit too late for Boldwood has had a high hope on her. So Bathsheba asks for more time to give best answer for his proposal. Boldwood is quite relieved.

Oak is unhappy with what Bathsheba does with Boldwood’s feeling. Despite previous rejection, Oak will be contented should she marry Boldwood thanks to latter’s good reputation. Oak gives honest critics that puts her in anger. She expels him. Oak leaves the farm immediately.

Bathsheba does not calculate the consequences from all of this. Shorly after Oak is gone, many of sheeps and lambs are died. After receiving some suggestions from her servants, Bathsheba has no other choice than begging Oak to return. Looks like everything goes well with both resumes their good relationship as either good friends and servant-mistress. So does her love story with Boldwood. Bathsheba is trying to love him and asking for deadline to marry him.

Boldwood goes on a business trip with a relief upon hearing her words. Just a quick moment then she is likely to be his mine. But just when the deadline is approaching, Bathsheba meets a very charming soldier namely Sergeant Francis Troy. Bathsheba can not resist his temptation. Little did she know about his past story. A lot of people already warn her about Troy’s womanizer attitude, but Bathsheba does not care. They get married not long after their meeting.

Only then Bathsheba knows her newly husband is not the kind man of what she used to think. He turns out to be a spender with his horse racing. Bathsheba complaints a lot but Troy ignores her. Bathsheba’s life becomes so miserable. She strives to win his husband’s heart.

In an unexpected night, when both of them are having an easy walk at night, Troy catches a glimpse of Fanny Robin, his old lover whom he leaves. They exchange a few words. Troy asks for her to wait for him in a secret place where which he will hand in some amount of money. Fanny, who is still in love with him, nods and goes there.

Troy and his wife are involved in a fierce verbal fight when Troy asks for some money to be given to Fanny. He does not say how will he use the money but Bathsheba is suspicious. She keeps questioning him about this and his weird act lately. Again, Troy ignores her.

Bathsheba is devastated. She is powerless and does not understand on why her husband is heartless. She goes out to the farm and meets one of her servants. She is shocked to know that Fanny, her former servant, is found died because of illness. Bathsheba demands for a proper funeral afterwards. She is still clueless about the ate relationship with her husband.

From Liddy, Bathsheba knows about that later on. One night, she pays a visit to the chuch where Fanny’s body is laid. She even gets completely sad when she knows that Fanny is pregnant. Both are passed away.

When she is still looking at Fanny’s body, her husband emerges. Troy gazes at his wife’s eyes when she does not answer his question on the identity of the corpse. When he knows that Fanny dies, Troy caress and kisses her, showing his deep affection. Bathsheba holds him from behind. She is jealous that her husband still loves Fanny but not her. Even if Fanny already dies, Bathsheba is still unable to get over her.

Bathsheba seeks for a brief escape in a jungle nearby her house. She repeatedly asks for Liddy’s updates on the funeral. She looks pale and sad. Troy, on the other hand, treats Fanny’s coffin and tomb very well. He puts beautiful flowers and takes care of everything. As their fight is still on, Troy wanders around the jungle and steps in a bay. There, he swims then meets with a group of sailors. Thinking how he is useless to his wife, Troy decides to follow them until the United States.

The news about her husband’s death shocks Bathsheba that she gets fainted when she is in a market. She disbelieves that at the beginning because Troy’s body is not discovered. But as everyone informs her about his clothes left in the bay and the last moment witnesses see him, Bathsheba then gradually tries to believe. Nine months pass and still no news about her husband’s whereabouts.

Bathsheba continues to move on with gloomy look. Boldwood, on the other hand, still wishes to marry her. He continues approaching her and even her servant for a little information on possible second marriage. Oak focuses on his career. He gradually becomes a respectable farmer who manages both Boldwood’s and Bathsheba’s farms.

There comes a shephard festival where which all farmers join and sell their animals in the party. Bathsheba and Boldwood are closer to each other in the event. Troy makes an unexpected appearance after nine months of missing in action. He joins a drama group that will peform in the festival. He is surprised to see his wife with Boldwood at the event and tries hard not to be noticed by everyone. But his effort is futile. One of the servants recognizes him.

Bolwood makes an overwhelming approach toward Bathsheba. Despite her polite refusal, Boldwood keeps on begging for her to marry him by reminding her about the secret words “marry me” years ago. Feeling cornered, Bathsheba promises to give a final answer during a Christmas celebration.

She consults to Oak about this. Oak tells her that may be Boldwood is obsessed with her. When he meets with Boldwood later, Oak hints that Bathsheba may likely to say no over his marriage proposal. But stubborn Boldwood believes Bathsheba will keep her word.

So, the D-day comes. Bathsheba, likely or not, has to meet Boldwood to give her final say. At first, she rejects the proposal but Boldwood pushes her. Tearfully, Bathsheba nods. She vows she will marry him in six years from when they join the party. A ring comes out. Bathsheba initially declines to wear it but she does what Boldwood wants after being intimidated by him. Along with the ring, Boldwood brings a box full of clothes belonging to Bathsheba Boldwood. He already prepares everything for his imaginary marriage six years later.

A very tragic incident occurs just when they leave the room. Troy comes up. “Come home with me my wife,” he says. Bathsheba’s mouth opens. She is in a full shock even after her husband takes her hand home. She screams and tries to get away from her husband. Seeing this, Boldwood takes a gun and shoots Troy. Blood coming out from Troy’s body, making the party turns out to be a chaos. Bathsheba takes Troy’s body to her home after asking for Oak to send her a doctor. All is too late. Troy dies afterwards while Boldwood surrenders himself to the authorities.

Years pass by. Through hard times, Bathsheba grows up into a mature woman. She learns to get over her past time. She determines to visit Oak, whom she rarely meets on a daily basis. When they meet, Bathsheba feels much more depressed than ever after knowing Oak is leaving for California. Even after this, they do not meet much. Oak prepares for his departure whilst Bathsheba is coping with her greatest loss, much worse than what she suffers from Troy’s sudden death.

Feeling so miserable, Bathsheba takes an initiative to visit Oak’s place one night. He welcomes her modestly since only a few people comes in. Through jokes and chats, they both admit their feelings. Oak confesses Bathsheba is the only woman he will marry in his life. Throughout all bitter life experiences and tough love lessons, both eventually tie a knot in a very simple wedding ceremony in front of several servants and friends.

86 thoughts on “Feminism and love karma in Thomas Hardy’s classic “Far from The Madding Crowd”

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