Tuesday, July 12, 2005
The More Things Change Part Two (Far from the Madding Crowd)
I'm an idiot. I know that's not news in a general way, but I should have know that Hardy would not let his story play out without evoking some emotional response from the reader. (Check out my post on Tess here.)This is actually a very good book. Yes, you didn't know that before I said it, did you? But gee, a woman who falls for the jerk and forsakes another, more stable person while another man moons after her for years? I bet Yeta, who's father was the chief caveman, went with Ook because he had bison teeth in a necklace, thus proving he was a bad boy, and didn't care that sweet, attentive Tor was destined to become the new chief someday.

If you read the previous post, you see the, what--love square instead of triangle? Oak and Boldwood are in love with Bathsheba, but a Sergeant Troy shows up to throw everything into a muddle. Bathsheba falls for the guy, even though he was supposed to wed someone else. Oak is his own stupid self, working on her farm and loving her from afar. Boldwood asks her to marry him and she refuses. All sorts of sordid things are done by York, of course. Oak brings in the harvest, takes care of the sheep. It all ends when Troy meets his old flame on the road and promises to give her some money. His wife is with him and he tries to play it off. But his old flame dies on the way to the meeting place because she is tired, cold, hungry and pregnant. So Troy is the last to know of her death and throws himself into the river. Just his luck, a boat comes along and rescues him and he leaves for America, letting everyone believe he's dead. (Oak brings in the harvest, takes care of the sheep). Boldwood pressures Bathsheba to give up on Troy and promise to marry him in 7 years, when her husband can be declared officially dead. She tells him she'll answer at Christmas. Boldwood throws a big party and Bathsheba attends to let him down, but weasels out of it. Then there is a knock on the door and Troy reappears. He grabs Bathsheba, she screams and Boldwood shoots Troy dead. Oak leaves the harvest and sheep long enough to see the dead body in the parlor. Boldwood gives himself up, is sentenced to death then has the sentence commuted. Oak, finally tiring of the harvest and the sheep, tells Bathsheba he's leaving her to go to America. She has the nerve to be upset. Hardy writes:

The next morning brought the culminating stroke; she had been expecting it long. It was a formal notice by letter from him that he should not renew his engagement with her for the following Lady-day.

Bathsheba actually sat and cried over this letter most bitterly. She was aggrieved and wounded that the possession of hopeless love from Gabriel, which she had grown to regard as her inalienable right for life, should have been withdrawn just at his own pleasure in this way.

So, of course, Bathsheba runs after Oak and they get married. But how happy can they be? Hardy states:

Bathsheba smiled (for she never laughed readily now), and their friends turned to go.

Oh, what joy! She smiled! This bodes well. "You're my bronze medal, Oak!" Hardy has a little discussion about how men and women don't know each other equally, since, at least at this time, they didn't work together but only "knew each other through their pleasures." The implication is that the closeness Oak and Bathsheba had was reinforced by their working together and endurance of catastrophe. But is this enough to make for a "happily ever after?" If so, why did it take so long, and why is it happening only when all of Oak's competition is gone?

Hardy is brilliant. He comes up with this melodramatic stuff and not once did I say, "No way, never happens." Instead, I'm yelling at the characters for being so stupid, so blind, so selfish, so...human.

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posted by Lavaughn Towell @ 4:46 PM | 4 comments

At 5:39 AM, Blogger Storm Trooper said...

My Great Grandmother was a victim of Jack The Ripper. What a horrible title.

At 8:54 AM, Blogger LT said...

I see you're keeping up her legacy in the service industry.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger ET said...

Maybe he means that "Jack the Ripper" is a horrible title for the woman who killed all of those prostitutes. LOL. LT, your response...PRICELESS!

As for Bathsheba (WHAT an awful name), perhaps she just didn't want to give birth to acorns? And let's face it...he did spend a lot of time with those sheep...

I am a wealth of valuable contributions.

At 7:53 AM, Blogger Storm Trooper said...

Actually - I was drunk and trying to stir up0 trouble. Please visit my site and leave rude commetns all over it! Best rude comment wins!


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