Far from the Madding Crowd | Study Guide

Thomas Hardy

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Far from the Madding Crowd | Chapters 43–45 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 43: Fanny's Revenge

When Fanny Robin is returned to Bathsheba's house, Bathsheba Everdene is at the point of putting together the tragic pieces of what the reader already knows: Sergeant Troy is the man Fanny pursued, and Fanny is the woman they had seen in the road. At this juncture, Liddy Smallbury tells her the final piece, whispering in her ear so the reader does not know the precise words. The information is another detail the reader knows: Fanny had a child.

The need to know drives Bathsheba to open the coffin to see for herself. Doing so confirms that Fanny had a child and that the curl of hair Troy has kept is hers. The woman in Bathsheba's house was Troy's lover, and the result of their affair is also in the coffin.

Bathsheba is distraught, and in this state, Troy finds her. She tries to leave, but he forces her to stay while he figures out who has died and why she's upset. Upon learning the truth, Troy falls to his knees, with a "union of remorse and reverence upon his face." He kisses the dead woman gently, and Bathsheba springs at him in a fit of jealous outrage. They argue fiercely.

As their quarrel continues, he finally announces, "I am not morally yours." This, perhaps, is the harshest thing he could tell Bathsheba. She has gone against her opposition to marriage to marry him, and he tells her that he is not hers.

Chapter 44: Under a Tree—Reaction

Both Troy and Bathsheba leave the house. Bathsheba spends the night outdoors. As she calms in the morning, she finds that Liddy is there. With her, Bathsheba returns home and has a small room prepared for herself, intending to live separately from her husband in the house. The chapter closes with the note that someone is putting up a "grand carved tombstone" for Fanny.

Chapter 45: Troy's Romanticism

Troy recollects the happenings of the past day: waiting for Fanny in Casterbridge, unaware that she had already passed, going to the races but not wagering, and then returning home to learn the news. The next morning, while Bathsheba is still outdoors, Troy makes arrangements to have a grave marker made for Fanny, plants flowers on Fanny's grave, and then spends the night sleeping on the porch of the churchyard, sheltered from the rain.

Analysis

Troy's acknowledgment that he has "been a bad, black-hearted man" is quickly followed by blaming Bathsheba, claiming that her tempting him is why this has happened. He ignores the reality that he pursued her, that he had already been unjust in his dealings with Fanny, and that Bathsheba had done him no wrong. He blames her, not himself. Admittedly, Troy is also likely to be experiencing guilt and devastation at this point. If seeing Fanny destitute in the street was not enough, seeing her in this state would force the truth home. Even when he sees her in the street, he does not immediately go to her aid. He returns to the house he shares with Bathsheba, making plans to meet Fanny not on that day or the next, but the following day after that.

Both Bathsheba and Troy's reactions are not unusual. Theirs is a marriage that has not been long together—or started with a long association. The readers who were reading the novel in its serial form would well know that Bathsheba could not obtain a divorce. His relations with Fanny were prior to his marriage, and Bathsheba, as a woman, would need to prove adultery and a second reason. Likewise, Troy cannot get a divorce. As such, Bathsheba's moving into another room is the furthest she can get from her husband.

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