Far from the Madding Crowd | Study Guide

Thomas Hardy

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Course Hero, "Far from the Madding Crowd Study Guide," August 23, 2017, accessed September 25, 2023, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Far-from-the-Madding-Crowd/.

Far from the Madding Crowd | Quotes


Well, what I mean is that I shouldn't mind being a bride at a wedding, if I could be one without having a husband.

Bathsheba Everdene, Chapter 4

This response answers the first marriage proposal of the novel. Gabriel Oak has proposed to her. From the onset of the novel, Bathsheba's independent traits are apparent. She holds this attitude, a steady opposition to matrimony, during Gabriel Oak's proposal and both of William Boldwood's proposals.


I shall be up before you are awake; I shall be afield before you are up; and I shall have breakfasted before you are afield. In short, I shall astonish you all.

Bathsheba Everdene, Chapter 10

Bathsheba explains to her employees that she is not going to be less of a worker, less of a farmer, less of an employer simply because she's female. She intends to run the farm, work hard, and impress everyone. Notably, most of the criticism of her character in the novel (and in critical reviews of the novel) is about her pride or her selfishness. Her work ethic is not an issue.


What's right week days is right Sundays.

Bathsheba Everdene, Chapter 13

In this situation, Liddy Smallbury and Bathsheba Everdene are discussing divination by key and book, a folk method for determining one's future spouse using a key and a Bible. The rust marks in the book indicate that they are not the first to do so. Liddy is momentarily uncomfortable, telling Bathsheba that she wishes that it wasn't Sunday. In her response, Bathsheba astutely notes that morals are morals regardless of the day of the week.


When Boldwood went to bed he placed the valentine in the corner of the looking-glass. He was conscious of its presence, even when his back was turned upon it.

Narrator, Chapter 14

Bathsheba's careless valentine haunts Boldwood. The bluntness of the simple phrase—"Marry me"—is unusual, especially as it comes from a woman. Moreover, Boldwood, at 40, is a confirmed bachelor. It is both an unsettling letter and the start of an interest in the sender that blossoms into destructive unrequited love.


To the best of his judgment neither nature nor art could improve this perfect one of an imperfect many.

Narrator, Chapter 17

This is the assessment of Farmer Boldwood upon studying Bathsheba. He, at this point, is aware that the "Marry me" card came from her. Until this time, he has been unaware of her as a beautiful woman—unlike most of the town. Here, though, he studies her and finds her beautiful. His interest in Bathsheba is not solely her looks. His own judgment requires him to get validation that she is attractive. It is not her wealth, as he has that. The precise reason he decides that he loves and must have her is less significant than the fact that once he does, he sees her as the key to his own happiness.


It appears that ordinary men take wives because possession is not possible without marriage, and that ordinary women accept husbands because marriage is not possible without possession.

Narrator, Chapter 20

This statement, one which was referenced in a review of the era, is a pointed indictment of marriage and the reasons men and women enter into it. Men marry because possession of a woman (either physically or in larger context) comes with matrimony. The direct inverse is true for women, according to this statement: Women accept being possessed in order to have a husband. Considering both the Married Woman's Property Act of 1870 and the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857, this statement easily comes across as social commentary on marriage.


Such women as you a hundred men always covet—your eyes will bewitch scores on scores into an unavailing fancy for you—you can only marry one of that many.

Sergeant Francis Troy, Chapter 26

Troy initially acts charmingly and wittily. He is a flatterer by nature, a man who achieves with clever words and good looks. However, at the same time, this statement is a truth in the novel as a whole. Gabriel Oak, Francis Troy, and William Boldwood all circle Bathsheba. Achieving her hand, possessing her, is a driving goal for both Boldwood and Troy. Gabriel's affection is less possessive. He doesn't covet her, and in fact, encourages her to marry Boldwood. What he seeks is not covetous. Troy, the speaker here, is desirous of possessing Bathsheba, and in his taunting of Boldwood on more than one occasion, he is also desirous of being envied.


When a strong woman recklessly throws away her strength she is worse than a weak woman who has never had any strength to throw away.

Narrator, Chapter 29

Bathsheba Everdene's falling in love with Sergeant Troy is worse, more of a fall, because she is strong-willed. She has been portrayed as unmoved by flattery and proposals. Troy, however, has won her attention. In this section, Gabriel Oak cautions her against foolhardiness. He points out that Troy is not the man she thinks he is, the man Troy claims to be. Bathsheba cannot accept this contradiction. Her own emotions severely cloud her judgment.


Do you know, I fancy you would be a match for any man when you are in one o' your takings.

Liddy Smallbury, Chapter 30

Bathsheba Everdene, whose personality is depicted as passionate and impulsive, is never quite as fierce as when she is in the throes of love, hate, or despair over Sergeant Troy. Bathsheba's temper and intensity are such that Liddy Smallbury feels intimidated. Moreover, in the following lines, Bathsheba realizes that she is being thought to be Amazonian (like a woman warrior). She feels both pleased and chagrinned.


But she's dead, and no speed of ours will bring her to life. The woman's past us—time spent upon her is throwed away: why should we hurry to do what's not required? Drink, shepherd, and be friends, for tomorrow we may be like her.

Jan Coggan, Chapter 42

The coffin for Fanny Robin (and her child) is in the wagon, but rather than deliver it to the parson, Joseph Poorgrass stops to drink with Jan Coggan. When Gabriel Oak finds the wagon, he is displeased. The simple pastoral reaction to death is not enough for Gabriel. Duty says that Fanny ought to be taken, on time, where she was expected to be. Jan's revelry, mixed with a sense of human frailty and mortality, is not out of place among his peers. Here, though, Gabriel is set apart. He takes the wagon and the bodies to the parson.


He was hers and she was his; they should be gone together.

Bathsheba Everdene, Chapter 48

Fanny Robin is dead. Bathsheba Everdene knows now that the woman on the road was the woman her husband loved, and she knows that he fathered her child. The lock of hair is Fanny's. The woman he almost married is dead, and Sergeant Troy's response to Bathsheba is a mix of rage and guilt and grief. When he leaves, he chooses to go for a swim and is carried away by the current. The news that Troy is dead makes Bathsheba wonder if he has committed suicide, and in that wondering, she wonders if it is just that he is with her in death as he wasn't in life.


It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.

Narrator, Chapter 51

Bathsheba Everdene has been proposed to again by Farmer Boldwood. Her husband is presumed dead, and Boldwood pressures her. His stance is that she owes him because she had almost accepted his proposal before she met Troy. She had not jilted him. She had merely said she wasn't inclined toward marriage, but under pressure, she agreed to consider it. Boldwood's tactic then and here is to apply pressure and guilt, and when she can't adequately explain herself, he presses more. The words she has to explain what it means as a woman are not words that fully convey her feelings. Boldwood, twice her age, is persistent, and Bathsheba feels the words she can use to explain her objections are not working. Arguably it is not the words themselves, but the reality behind what it means to marry that is the source of the gendered difference.


A good wife is good, but the best wife is not so good as no wife at all.

Baily Pennyways, Chapter 52

Lest the reader think only Bathsheba objects to marriage, there are others who express their negativity toward the institution. In this case, Pennyways is talking to Sergeant Troy who is determined to return to his wife. Admittedly, Troy's stated reasons are financial (he's tired of living low, by way of teaching physical sports and being with a traveling troupe), but there is also an undercurrent of possessiveness and of regard for the beauty of Bathsheba. Nonetheless, Pennyways argues that it's better to have a good wife than a bad one, but the best solution is to remain free of marriage.


The body has been undressed and properly laid out in grave clothes. Gracious Heaven—this mere girl! She must have the nerve of a stoic!

Mr. Aldritch, Chapter 54

As in numerous other moments in the book, Bathsheba rises to the challenge. She is stalwart in handling matters after her husband is murdered in front of her, and more so, is murdered by a man who was pressuring her to marry him. Bathsheba cleans and prepares Troy's body. She treats him with respect, moves his body to their home so people aren't looking at him, and ultimately carries on resolutely. After the tasks are all completed, she falters and collapses, but this action is completely in keeping with her overall character.


I've danced at your skittish heels, my beautiful Bathsheba, for many a long mile, and many a long day; and it is hard to begrudge me this one visit.

Gabriel Oak, Chapter 56

When Bathsheba realizes that she looks as if she has "come courting" Gabriel, she is momentarily embarrassed. He, however, laughs. Gabriel rightly notes that he has been steadfast in his devotion. He's worked for her well-being in ways she has and has not seen. Therefore, he has more than earned one moment of her pursuing him. It is worth noticing that her assertiveness has never been off-putting to Gabriel, not as an employer or as a friend. He has supported her rights to independence as a business owner and as a woman.

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