Plot construction in Far from the Madding Crowd

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Far from the Madding Crowd

Hardy’s plot construction in Far From the Madding Crowd suffers from a few weaknesses. In the first place, the plot is rather thin and slight. The entire story is about a woman, namely, Bathsheba Everdene who is loved by three men. At the end of the novel, two of the lovers, Sergeant Troy and Mr. Boldwood are removed and the scope is made for the third one, namely, Gabriel Oak, to marry the heroine. To a host of critics, the way in which this end is achieved is rather unconvincing and contrived. Oak is in reality, the first lover of the heroine, though throughout the novel there is no sign of affection for him on her part while she married Troy and promised to marry Boldwood after the supposed death of Troy. Perhaps through this Hardy offers a reward to the steady and consistent love of Oak, but it is far from satisfying if thought from logical point of view. Moreover, according to many critics, it does not suit the entire tragic foreboding of the novel also. Throughout the novel, Hardy shows the struggle between man on the one hand and an omnipotent and indifferent Fate on the other, which is malevolent to all human hopes. The ending of the novel runs contrary to this tragic bias.

The ending of the novel is even contrived if seen from feminist angle. In the plot construction in Far From the Madding Crowd we find that Bathsheba Everdene, the heroine of the novel, jumps into a traditionally male leadership role as the head of a large farm and prospers; and it is a surprising storyline for a Victorian novel. But Hardy finally turns her into the same old tired trope of a woman wholly at the mercy of her ewn erratic emotions Infact, in the end, Bathsheba gets what is meant to be a happy ending when she marries Oak, but by that time, she is a more somber version ef her former self. Hardy tells us that Gabriel and Bathsheba’s love is not based on passion but a sensible companionship borne out of mutual hardship and shared experience. Put at the end of the novel, we don’t know if she lets Gabriel take over the management of the farm in her place or if they manage together. The trend indicates the possibility of the former. No doubt poetic justice is given to Oak, but this sheer taming of Bathsheba is anti-feminist in conception. This novel is not really a story of a woman who is trapped and mistreated by society’s expectations for her, like Hardy’s another heroine, Tess. Here is a woman who willfully chooses to deny her talents and submit to female failing.

However, to consider the ending of the novel as totally tame and undemocratic may be a misreading. In ending of the novel thus, Hardy had, in fact, a definite design in his mind. We must not forget that Hardy was an architect by profession which he left for his literary career in 1870, and in all his novels he has developed an architectural composition of story. In this particular novel also, he has taken care to convince us of the appropriateness of the happy ending. Hardy has removed, one by one all the characters who might have marred the happy effect. Troy the villain is killed by Boldwood, who, equally selfish and destructive, is also in jail, and Bathsheba is tamed, if not radically altered, and sufficiently wise how to create happiness for herself and others. Moreover, if Bathsheba has learnt through suffering to value Gabriel for what he is and what he represents, Gabriel has also proved himself through resourceful endurance to be something more than an everybody type of man to be worthy, indeed, as a man and as a farmer of Bathsheba.

To conclude, in ending the novel with a poetic justice to tolerance and honesty Hardy appears as a meliorist. Hardy did not really wish to make the ending too tragic, and ends the novel with a ray of hope not only for Oak and Bathsheba, but for all his readers too.

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