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Far from the Madding Crowd”- Thomas Hardy

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1.02.01 English Literature Coursework Essay Danielle Orchard "Far from the Madding Crowd"- Thomas Hardy "But I love you- and as for myself, I am content to be liked." (Gabriel to Bathsheba) "Of love as a spectacle, Bathsheba had a fair knowledge, but of love subjectively she knew nothing." (Hardy on Bathsheba) "Will you- for I love you so. And you said lots of times you would marry me..." (Fanny to Troy) "Promise yourself to me; I deserve it, indeed I do, for I have loved you more than anybody in the world!" (Boldwood to Bathsheba) "He could speak of love and think of dinner." (Hardy on Troy) Discuss what love appears to mean, to each of any three of the above characters, and what effect it has on their lives. What message does Hardy appear to have to his readers? Love, alongside fate and character, is one of the dominant themes in Hardy's novel. Each of the characters has a different reaction to love, and expresses love in different ways. The story is really about how love affects the characters lives and fortunes, and how the experiences that Hardy makes them endure, change their opinions, for better and for worse. Hardy uses the novel to express his own opinions on love, and reveals the good and the bad that can come from feeling it and giving it. The love that Hardy first writes about in relation to Bathsheba, is the love which Bathsheba has for herself. This is the first personality trait that Gabriel observes, as he sees her observing her appearance in a mirror, "Vanity." The vanity that she possesses causes her to think very highly of herself as she explains to Liddy why she had once refused a proposal of marriage, "He wasn't good enough for me," she claims. The vanity present within her is so strong, that she is excited at the thought of men being attracted to her beauty. ...read more.


We could say that this attitude was as shallow as the way in which Troy was drawn to beauty, and that Gabriel had been hasty to propose to Bathsheba after such a short time of making her acquaintance. Gabriel's unselfish character, is reflected in the love that he feels for Bathsheba. We first become apparent of this when Oak loses his flock of sheep, after they had been run off the edge of the cliff by his dog. The first thing that Gabriel can think of before realising his own financial instability, is "Thank God I am not married: what would she have done in the poverty now coming upon me." This unselfishness continued to be unfailing throughout his time working for Bathsheba. At the end of the novel, he informs Bathsheba that he is going to leave to work in California, he later reveals that this was to silence the gossip that had started, of the supposed romantic happenings that were going on between himself and Bathsheba. By proposing to move to California, he does so not to preserve his own reputation, but to preserve Bathsheba's reputation. Despite this kindness that he has shown her, Bathsheba has no interest in him whatsoever. Although Gabriel is not in a good financial position when he first reaches Weatherbury, he shows how unselfish and sharing he is when he offers money to Fanny Robin when he comes across her on his journey. This is down to his good character, and the love and friendship which he shows his neighbours and friends. He realises that waiting for Bathsheba would be in vain, but still continues to care for her. When he fears that Bathsheba is taking an interest in Troy, he tries to warn her, and urges her that she would be better off with Boldwood. He exclaims, "I do beg of 'ee to consider before it is too late, how safe you would be in his hands!" ...read more.


Troy did not value love as anything special, and this could be put down to the fact that he had a very unstable background, and an uncertain upbringing. His profession would also have something to do with his opinion of women, and as a soldier, he probably never had to deal with women and did not understand them. This is why he tried to possess them, and this destroyed them. Hardy has some very clear opinions that he wishes to get across to the reader in this novel. He uses the characters as tools, to create a picture for the readers, expressing his personal views on love. He rewards those characters that see love as a simple but precious thing, and he shows how much he admires Gabriel Oak for his powers of endurance, by rewarding him with Bathsheba in the end. In contrast, he punishes those characters that take love too lightly. An example of this is the attitude of Troy which end is death in the end. Hardy warns us of the great power of love and how dangerous it can be. The obsession that Boldwood felt for Bathsheba, is another feeling that he condemns, and shows how life can be ruined because of obsession. This is shown by the lifelong imprisonment of Boldwood. Hardy's opinions of love are really exposed at the end of the novel, when he describes his own thoughts about how truelove can develop. He uses Bathsheba and Gabriel as an example of how true love can develop. They were "tried friends" who enjoyed "good-fellowship and comraderie." The main message Hardy is trying to get across to us is that love cannot hide behind a fake face. He writes that in order for a successful relationship to take place, you must know the "rougher sides" of each other's character. This is the love Hardy describes to be "the only love which is as strong as death- that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown." ...read more.

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