Hardy was born in Dorset and was an architect at first. He then wrote many fiction books – Far From the Madding Crowd being his fourth – and also wrote a lot of poetry. Far From the Madding Crowd has everything a good novel needs: love and death, happiness and sadness, loyalty and betrayal. It is a simple book containing simple people going about their simple, everyday lives. The notion of love in Far From the Madding Crowd is very strong and every chapter is concerned with Bathsheba, Oak, Troy, Fanny and Boldwood, in their nasty, twisted web of love. This essay focuses on two of these slightly unorthodox relationships: Bathsheba and Troy, and Bathsheba and Boldwood.
Troy, who was initially going to marry Fanny, meets Bathsheba purely by accident. While walking around the farm, Bathsheba gets her dress caught in Troy’s spur. Troy believes that she is a man. We know this because he says, “Have I hurt you mate?” This shows he is quick at deciding things and makes snap judgements, which is shown previously, when he abandons Fanny without giving her a chance to explain her lateness, believing that she didn’t turn up on purpose. He instantly begins flirting with her and she tries not to but does. The pair are instantly smitten with each other, although only Troy shows his true feelings. For the time being, Bathsheba keeps her feelings hidden from others, particularly Troy.
Troy, who appears the person least likely to spend time in the country, continues to stay and help at the farm. He was going to lend a hand anyway but now he knows of Bathsheba’s presence, he is even more eager to stay and help. As I said, the pair are instantly infatuated with each other, so Bathsheba is unlikely to refuse a display of swordsmanship from the dashing soldier. The readers are led to believe that the sword represents some kind of phallic imagery, and this is an incredibly daring thing to write about in a book of Hardy’s time. Troy is perhaps slightly desperate because the readers know that he truly loves Fanny Robin or maybe he can see an opportunity to get a lot of money and a farm. If, however, he wants all the riches and Bathsheba’s hand in marriage, he must woo her and that is what he does, with his dexterity and skill.
Very few relationships are simple and in novels, they are usually quite complicated. Although Troy claims to love Bathsheba, he truly loves Fanny Robin, who he abandoned when she went to the wrong church for their wedding. When coming back from the races one day, Troy sees Fanny begging on the roadside and, after telling Bathsheba to continue up he path, they talk. This gives the readers a chance to see that she is the one for him and he cares more for her, than his wife, Bathsheba.
When Fanny and her child are found and Troy kisses the dead woman, poor Bathsheba is left confused and possibly frightened. Troy tells her that she does not own him and he can kiss any woman he likes. Nothing ever seems to go right for Fanny, so the readers are left feeling sorry for her. The major blow is, of course, when her fiancï¿½e leaves her and she has given up her job at Bathsheba’s farm, her part in the twisted love triangle becomes more apparent and more detailed, as she is pushed further into it all.
The relationship does not last and Boldwood’s obsession for Bathsheba grows and he shoots Troy to get him out of his (and her) life for good. This shows the true pain of love, as Bathsheba truly loved Troy and cannot bear to be parted from him once again. He had faked his own death before and that was traumatising enough, so him being killed before her very eyes was too much for her to bear. Readers are left feeling very sorry for her, and, although life gets better after this incident, she is never the same as the scene has been imprinted onto her mind, never to be removed.
Boldwood is another man who was obsessed with Bathsheba and her beauty. He wants to meet her but she refuses, her vanity not allowing herself to be seen in a dirty state – “I can’t see him in this state. Whatever shall I do?” When Boldwood shows that he is not subtle in showing feelings and begins over-complimenting Miss Everdene at the sheep washing and telling her how he wants to tell her that he wants to tell her he loves her over and over again. We see instantly how smitten he his with Bathsheba and perhaps see already that he will do whatever he can to marry her.
Bathsheba is upset when Boldwood ignores her in church. Although she says to Liddy, who points out that he never once looked at her, “Why should he, I never asked him to.” This is her way of covering up the fact that she is really upset. She is intending to send a Valentines Day card to Teddy Coggan, but after tossing the bible she decides to send it to Boldwood instead. She feels it to be a simple, harmless joke and he will not know whom it is from. Boldwood however, takes the whole thing too far and takes it very seriously indeed, paying particular interest to the wax stamp on the envelope, which bears the immortal legend, “Marry Me”. Bathsheba is not aware of all the trouble this harmless bit of fun will do in her future but as with real life, the consequences are often thought of when it is too late.