Book: Far From The Maddening Crowd
Author : Thomas Hardy
Genre : Fiction Novel
Published By : Wordsworth Classics
My Ratings : 4.5/5
Yesterday I finished this book and in complete contrast of the title I read it in full madding crowd!
But as is the case with classics , it takes you away from the boundaries of desh-kaal-paristhiti means country, time and situations. And it stole my heart with its captivating description of Wessex nature and the flowing narration.
Its not a fast paced story or a one with many tumbling events but whatever events occur are, influential and impressive enough to turn the tide of life of the characters .
Coming to the characters are flesh and bone, lovable or despicable, but real and true. The names of the characters are also captivating Bathsheba, Gabriel Oak , Troy , Boldwood and Fanny,even Coggan, Liddy and all.
I admired Gabriel Oak .The quiet, honest, sorted and reliable man who is the pillar of strength not only for Bathsheba and her farm but is also a salient grace and dignity to the story. He is a character emitting sukoon and shanti, stability and calm and he likes to read! and he is concerned about not only financial growth and success but for intellect and growth as a person.
Have a look at the simplicity of his love-
At home by the fire, whenever I look up, there you will be. And whenever you look up, there I shall be.
The depth of his love-
He wished she knew his impressions, but he would as soon as thought of carrying an odour in a net as of attempting to convey the intangibles of his feeling in the coarse meshes of language. So he remained silent.”
Honesty of his love-
Thoroughly convinced of the impossibility of his own suit, a high resolve constrained him not to injure that of another. This is a lover's most stoical virtue, as the lack of it is a lover's most venial sin.”
Bathsheba is "An Elizabeth in brain and Mary Stuart in spirit....." Chapter XX. She is soft and volatile, vain and decent, playful yet sensitive ,to feel responsible for her actions ,looking for love sprinkled with romance and social up-lifting (very understandably ).
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.”
and it was said of her-
She was of the stuff of which great men's mothers are made. She was indispensable to high generation, hated at tea parties, feared in shops, and loved at crises.”
She played, repented,chose, lost ,rose and found true love .So she is thoughtful and intelligent but lacks the maturity of judgement and wisdom which comes with experience, when pride and vanity are wiped by the hands of fate.
Her feelings evoke pathos and a desire to undo what's been done...
“Until she had met Troy, Bathsheba had been proud of her position as a woman; it had been a glory to her to know that her lips had been touched by no man’s on earth—that her waist had never been encircled by a lover’s arm. She hated herself now. In those earlier days she had always nourished a secret contempt for girls who were the slaves of the first good-looking young fellow who should choose to salute them. . . . she had felt herself sufficient to herself, and had in the independence of her girlish heart fancied there was a certain degradation in renouncing the simplicity of a maiden existence to become the humbler half of an indifferent matrimonial whole . . . facts now bitterly remembered.”
Between Oak and Troy -
“And Troy’s deformities lay deep down from a woman’s vision, whilst his embellishments were upon the very surface; thus contrasting with the homely Oak, whose defects were patent to the blindest, and whose virtues were as metals in a mine.”
The only thing I found odd is the way it ended.... destined but hasty ...Bathsheba in accepting Gabriel's hand seemed not driven by love but a mixture of friendliness, lack of options, want of stability and him being a tried and tested person with a good heart and capable limbs.
(That's why 4.5/5 )
Though all these traits combined are equal to any love any given day or century ,still Bathsheba must have felt the attraction to get married.
but then their relation and camaraderie has been shown as -
''Theirs was that substantial affection which arises (if any arises at all) when the two who are thrown together begin first by knowing the rougher sides of each other's character, and not the best till further on, the romance growing up in the interstices of a mass of hard prosaic reality. This good- fellowship—camaraderie—usually occurring through similarity of pursuits, is unfortunately seldom superadded to love between the sexes, because men and women associate, not in their labours, but in their pleasures merely. Where, however, happy circumstances permit its development, the compounded feeling proves itself to be the only love which is strong as death—that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown, beside which the passion usually called by the name is evanescent as steam.
So, may be I am adding romance to all this!
Far from the madding crowd” means away from noise and mindless chase for nothing but, as per the characters it can also be 'safe from the crazies' . It refers to a quiet and rural place. Hardy took the line from a passage in Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchard, 1751:
“Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.” –Thomas Gray
Gray's poem was a part of our syllabus in class 10th.
The people in the novel found solace away from the madness of impulsive decisions, treachery , uncontrolled passion ,infatuation and insecurities.In chapter XXII while describing nature in Weatherbury , Hardy had written -
"Every green was young, every pore was open, and every stalk was swollen with racing currents of juice. God was palpably present in the country, and the Devil had gone with the world to the town." so the title is justified.
Some worthy quotes from the book -
1. But a resolution to avoid an evil is seldom framed till the evil is so far advanced as to make avoidance impossible.
2. The vast difference between starting a train of events, and directing into a particular groove a series already started, is rarely apparent to the person confounded by the issue.
3. We colour and mould according to the wants within us whatever our eyes bring in.”
4. “ We learn that it is not the rays which bodies absorb, but those which they reject, that give them the colours they are known by; and in the same way people are specialized by their dislikes and antagonisms, whilst their goodwill is looked upon as no attribute at all.”
5. “Indifference to fate which, though it often makes a villain of a man, is the basis of his sublimity when it does not.”