Far from the Madding Crowd is all about the farmer Oak who single-handedly dominates the novel with his simplicity, wit and constant love for his girl – Bathsheba Everdene! It’s about arrogance versus love; it’s about superficial relationship versus true love; it’s about lust versus caring; it’s about practical life versus a day dream… Far from the Madding Crowd, in short, is a novel full of entertainment as well as seriousness and last but not the least, surely a classic which fully deserves this tag! Thomas Hardy produced many novels in his long career but this one remains his pessimistic yet optimistic love saga which ultimately tells us that true love is the reward of itself…
The novel is about very few characters at the center of events. There is an unfortunate character called Gabriel Oak who herds sheep and makes his living. Just a little more than love at first sight, this guy falls in love with Bathsheba, a nearby girl who has come to visit her aunt. Being a simple person, Oak proposes Bathsheba without so much of consideration and gets rejected. He is disappointed but constant and does not complain further. Bathsheba is rather a complacent girl who wants someone ‘to tame her’. Time turns and Oak becomes poor, wandering for a job and Bathsheba inherits the fortune of her uncle and takes the charge of duties herself. Twist by Hardy is at the best when Oak returns in the life of Bathsheba who is indulged in some cupid sports with Boldwood, a neighbour and a rich guy. With time, another bombastic entry happens and readers come to know Sergeant Troy who is rather handsome, clever and knows some tricks for girls. Bathsheba is taken into his courtship and they secretly marry. Lost in that lust, Bathsheba realises that her decision was finally wrong… things settle after the murder of Troy, gallows for Boldwood and a true companion to Bathsheba – Gabriel Oak. True love triumphs at the end of the novel. Far from the Madding Crowd is well a part of the crowd and with good vibes.
Critically, the novel portrays life in its worst form as well the best form. A major part of the plot, as observed by many critics of that and this time, is played by the fate and once again we come to know the fatalist Hardy was. The novel ends with somewhat justified poetic justice because there are too much of deserted islands – Fanny, Boldwood, and also our pleasant Oak. Fanny and Oak were at the receiving end all the time and one gets some consolation award and another embraces death. It’s all about love, sentiments and love and sentiments only. Bathsheba, for the feminist, may portray a willing lady and iron determination portrayal. However, Hardy bestows the ultimate goodness to Gabriel Oak who is constant in his love, affection and care to Bathsheba. No one can challenge him in those terms and he makes the novel thriving. We pity him when he serves Bathsheba almost as a loyal dog and in return gets the dejection and wrath… Let’s read Far from the Madding Crowd, readers, for the hero it has given to us – Oak!
Far from the Madding Crowd
A must read for all those who love romantic and sentimental novel.