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"How does Hardy treat gender roles in chapter 10 of Far from the Madding Crowd."

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Introduction

"How does Hardy treat gender roles in chapter 10 of Far from the Madding Crowd." Hardy uses many subtle and individual techniques to display gender roles within this chapter. In the main these reciprocate normal behaviour by having a woman in a superior position dominating a lot of men. This idea is known as subversion of gender, and this is the main technique used in this chapter. One must remember that at the time of writing this was sensational, as women were not considered self-reliant. The first thing the reader sees is the chapter heading, and in Hardy's case, he uses chapter headings as a summary for the chapter; "Mistress and Men" implies a Mistress holding power over men. It is this subversion of gender roles, which lends the attraction for ladies of leisure in the 1900s, and also generates humour; as at the time the thought of a woman in control of men would have been laughable. It also serves to impress upon the ladies of leisure that would have read this format of writing, that women could be self-reliant. ...read more.

Middle

This corresponds directly to her growth throughout the novel, which ultimately leads to her marrying Oak, as she goes from a na�ve and vain girl, to a mature and sensible woman. Hardy uses positioning to denote status throughout the novel and it is, therefore interesting to note that Bathsheba enters through the "upper end of the old hall," followed by "Liddy". Hardy then gives the impression that Liddy derives her status from her proximity to Bathsheba, "position at her elbow," which suggests that Liddy is a woman following the example of Bathsheba, which is again implied by Hardy at the end of the chapter, "not entirely free from travesty." Also linked to positioning is the fact that Oak stays by the door of the house, which is represented as Bathsheba's heart, and is neither inside nor outside. This symbolises the fact that Bathsheba is still proudly refusing the proposal, but the shepherd has saved the shed from catching fire, so he was neither in nor out of love. Hardy's reversal of the gender roles can lead to instances that would have been ridiculous to the intended Victorian audience, for example the unexpected dismissal of the bailiff. ...read more.

Conclusion

are promiscuous, "scarlet" women, which is ironic when one considers the certain similarities between them and Bathsheba when she is wooing Sergeant Troy. That is, when she marries Sergeant Troy, she becomes subservient, and she takes a deferent view towards Troy. We can also see Bathsheba's dominant nature reflected again in the behaviour of Laban Tall, whose wife dominates him, "I be his lawful wife!" Bathsheba has a large speech towards the end of the chapter detailing the change of gender as she warns the men, "Now mind you have a mistress instead of a master." This dominant, and imperious voice is relevant to her status, but many people at the time would have found this laughable, "because I am a woman I don't understand the difference between right and wrong," which suggests one of the conflicts the play is built around; good against evil, peace against war or Shepherd Oak against Sergeant Troy. In conclusion, Hardy uses many linguistic devices to build up an impression of a dominant mistress, and subservient men. The main of these is the subversion of gender as Hardy reciprocates the normal positions of males and females Craig Brown 10h ...read more.

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