Compare and contrast the ways in which Thomas Hardy presents Troys seduction of Bathsheba in Far From The Madding Crowd.
Compare and contrast the ways in which Thomas Hardy presents Troy’s seduction of Bathsheba in “Far From The Madding Crowd.”
Hardy presents Troy’s seduction through his use of form, structure and language in order to present the bewitching nature of her courtship with Troy. I have taken a particular scene from the novel, in order to illustrate the point presented above. This scene takes place soon after Troy, a soldier, has met with Bathsheba Everdene, a stern young woman who has inherited her uncle’s farm, is to observe Troy’s sword practices. She is certain that she will not attend but not long before their meeting, Bathsheba relents and goes to see him. She is enthralled and frightened by his practises, as he comes very close to harming her with his sword. In the closing parts of the scene Troy kisses Bathsheba, and leaves her feeling quite ashamed.
Hardy’s narration in this particular scene is very much focused on Bathsheba. The reader is only able to observe the movements of Troy and his speech. As a result, the reader is able to grasp Bathsheba’s enchantment whiles watching Troy. The sword practice does, in fact, enchant Bathsheba. She believes that the sword has “passed through her body,” by some sort of “magic.” She describes the swords gleaming reflection of sunlight, as if the sword itself is “greeting” her. She is enthralled by all the different types of light that it produces. The sword takes on a wand like appeal, as if Troy is casting a spell on Bathsheba and drawing her closer towards his designs upon her. His sword show evokes fear and wonderment from her, and these feelings soon lead her to fall for Troy. A sense of enchantment is also created in the courtship between Edward Sydney and Julia Wellsey, in Bronte’s “The Foundling.” On approaching Julia’s home, Sydney hears her singing in an “angelic” and “harmonious” fashion. In her song she professes her love for Sydney, and he is driven to her feet in a bout of passion after he discovers the Julia is the singer. Both Lady Julia and Troy put on a show for their objects of love. Troy’s sword show and Julia’s singing both create a sensory appeal towards their lover. However Julia’s angelic song is far more peaceful but still as attractive to Sydney, as Troy’s dangerous but beautiful sword show is to Bathsheba.
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On leaving Troy, Bathsheba’s feelings are engaged even more so than before. As Troy leaves, he kisses her on the mouth and this leaves Bathsheba feeling shameful. After he has kissed her, Hardy describes how “blood” is “brought beating into her face,” and it sets her “stinging as if aflame.” His description portrays Bathsheba’s passion. The active movement of the blood; the dynamic nature of his description, injects energy and passion into Bathsheba’s manner. She is described as being aflame; a common allegory for passion. Likewise in Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence,” Wharton describes a “burning flush” of blood rising up Olenska’s neck. The two women- Olenska and Bathsheba- both appear stern and self-confident in their rejection of their suitors; however, they are still susceptible to passion and desire. They possess that same physical and carnal passion men have in many works of literature. In Phillip Sydney’s “The Old Arcadia,” Sydney describes Musidorus’ love for Pamela as a physical tremor in his body and likewise in D.H Lawrence’s “Lady Chaterley’s Lover,” Mellor’s feels a burning in the back of his loins, when he is approached by lady Chaterley. Their two characters can therefore represent a change in societies’ opinion of woman that came in the late Victorian period: women also have desires and through this they are made equal to men in the novels; ideals that the suffragettes upheld very much.
The physical apprehension in Bathsheba’s character is also seen prior to her meeting with Troy. She changes her mind, quickly, and seeks out Troy. When reaching the pit that Troy is found, Hardy describes the way her “eyes shone and her breath went quickly.” Her physical state heightened to a tremor and her desire to meet Troy is described as temerity, therefore, the reader receives a great deal of information concerning Bathsheba’s initial desire to see Troy. The dynamic description of her physical being creates a sense of apprehension, this could not only be discerned as desire, but it may relate to a fear of what Troy plans to undertake with her, or a need to satisfy a social expectation to meet with the needs of the promise she made with him. Her anticipation for their meeting creates tension. Similarly in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” her description of Frankenstein’s monster’s apprehension, that causes the scene in which he approaches De lacey to befriend him, to be made significant. These two scenes are very much significant in each of the two narratives. In Hardy’s “Far From The Madding Crowd,” this event marks the beginning of Bathsheba’s loss of reason, upon falling in love with Troy. In “Frankenstein” this event marks the uprising of the monster’s aggressive revenge against humanity, as De Lacey and his family shun him.
On falling in love with Troy, Bathsheba is not only susceptible to her loss of reason but she is also vulnerable to scandal. Her decent into irrationality and scandal, is presented through Hardy’s use of setting. Initially Bathsheba is in an open space; a field that Hardy describes as having “radiant” “hues,” “untainted” in green. He describes the scenic view of the field as it is covered with “plump Diaphanous.” This place is reflective of the serenity that Bathsheba enjoys in her reason, and it also reflects the beauty of her innocence that has been untainted, like field has an untainted colour, by her suitor’s scandal. Similarly in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” Darcy’s estate reflects the new found beauty Elizabeth finds in his character. The natural beauty in Darcy’s estate relates to the untainted virtue that Darcy has possessed since childhood, as the natural beauty of the field relates to the innocence of Bathsheba. However, when she approaches Troy, she is unexpectedly descending into a scandal and irrationality. The pit is a place that represents Bathsheba’s enthrallment to Troy-there she is taken by Troy’s sword practice and left feeling desirous after he kisses her. She has also opened herself up to scandal through entering the pit. Troy has impregnated a girl, Fanny Robin, and Bathsheba is unaware of this.
The pit is also a place of concealment. In this environment, Bathsheba and Troy are concealed away from the rest of the world, and Troy is free to practise his designs upon her, uninterrupted. The concealment of the setting reflects the concealment of Troy’s true cruelty. During their meeting, Bathsheba is completely unaware of the scandal that Troy is guilty of-he has abandoned his pregnant former lover. The pit is also a place where light is narrowly concealed. The darkness of the setting may reflect the darkness of Troy’s true character. In a similar way, in Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbivilles,” Alec’s rape of Tess is concealed in a dark and misty night. His deed like Troy’s seductive shows, is also concealed from the view of other characters, and as a result, both are cast in a sinister light, but Alec more so for is deed than Troy.
In conclusion Hardy uses setting to reflect the descent that Bathsheba encounters physically and emotionally when she is to meet Troy. Hardy also describes Bathsheba’s apprehension when meeting Troy in order to cause their meeting to appear more significant to the reader than other scenes in the novel; a technique employed by Mary Shelley in “Frankenstein.” His description of her blood rushing, and the fire that she feels inside herself functions to describe her desire for Troy, and this also signals the beginning of Bathsheba’s reason being broken into.