Hardy is primarily a storyteller and should be viewed more as a chronicler of moods and deeds than as a philosopher. Yet a novel such as Far from the Madding Crowd which raises many questions about society, religion, morals, and the contrast between a good life and its rewards, is bound to make the reader curious about the authors vision of life, which is behind of his work.
Hardy lived in an age of transition. The industrial revolution was in the process of destroying the agricultural life, and the subsequent shifting of population caused a disintegration of rural customs and traditions that had meant security, stability, and dignity for the people. It was really a period when fundamental believes- religious,social, scientific, and political-were shaken to their core and brought in their stead the “ache of modernism.” The new philosophies failed to satisfy the emotional needs of many people. And as a young man Hardy read Darwin’s Origin of Species and Essays and Reviews, both of which were to influence his views toward religion And he found it difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile the idea of a beneficent,omnipotent, and omniscient deity with the fact of omnipresent evil and the persistent tendency of circumstances toward unhappiness. He then fluctuates between fatalism and determinism. He sees life in terms of action in the doomed struggle against the circumstantial forces against happiness. In all his novels, Fate appears as an artistic motif in a great variety of forms- chance and coincidence, nature, time, woman, and convention. But none is Fate itself, but rather all of these are manifestations of an indifferent God, the Immanent Will.
In Far from the Madding Crowd, the sudden loss of the sheep brings destruction in the life of Gabriel. It is the dog, George that had jealously chased the sheep driving them over the brink. He had two hundred sheep which were kept aloof from the fifty sheep which had already given birth two lambs. When Oak came out, he saw the dog standing at the covering point of the hedges just on the crag from where two hundred sheep lay dead below in the chalk pit. Oak was now totally ruined. And Oak was taking rest in an inn after his deplorable plight, he suddenly saw a luster of fire at a distant spot. On reaching the spot he saw some way stocks which had been mostly burnt. It was difficult to save them, but Oak showed his spirit of adventure in putting out the fire. It was the most important moment in Oaks life because he started to play besides Bathsheba.
The life of Fanny has been harmed by her failure to keep the appointment of marriage. Troy reaches the appointed place in time. But Fanny does not reach the place as she reaches the wrong place. Fate seems to have played a trick on Fanny and this leads the tragic death of Fanny.
Another unforeseen event in the novel is the effect of valentine on Boldwood. Nobody could have thought that after receiving the valentine card, the serious minded gloomy Boldwood would fall in love so wildly and desperately with Bathsheba. The pent up passion takes the form of ‘volcanic eruption’, and Boldwood’s whole life is ruined by it.
Bathsheba and Troy meet accidentally one night as Troy is returning home after his round of the farm. This accidental meeting creates many complications in the novel. Bathsheba falls in love with this handsome soldier. She elopes with him to avoid Boldwood. She marries him and finally they have to lead a most unhappy life. This marriage brings the ruin in Bathsheba’s life.
The chance- meeting of Fanny’s dead body and Troy is another key event of the novel. The dead body was brought to Bathsheba’s house and could not be buried due to bad weather condition. Had the dead body been buried in proper time, Troy must not have any chance to see his dead fiance. The cord between Bathsheba and Tory is now completely broken. Troy disappe ars from the scene. And it is rumored that he is drowned. Bathsheba is under a spell of sorrow. Boldwood pursues his courtship with Bathsheba with greater vigour and obtain promise from Bathsheba to marry him When everything is going well, Troy ppears in the scene. Boldwood loses his temper and kills him instantly with him gun.
All these help us to conclude that in Far from the Madding crowd Hardy Continuously hints at some external force or forces at work. These forces work through chance or nature or unprecedented passion blindly and ‘kill us for their sports’. And yet Hardy is no pessimist because his protagonists never surrender to this Immanent Will, rather show desperation to fight back. In the novel, Hardy really appears as a meliorist.