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Far from the Madding Crowd (Modern Library Classics)


Far from the Madding Crowd (Modern Library Classics) Cover



Reading Group Guide

1. According to the scholar Howard Babb, Hardys depiction of Wessex “impinges upon the consciousness of the reader in many ways . . . as mere setting, or a symbol, or as a being in its own right.” How does environment serve as an integral part of this novel?

2. The title of Far from the Madding Crowd, borrowed from Thomas Grays “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” celebrates the “cool, sequestered” lives of rural folks. Is the title ironic or appropriate?

3. The rustics who work the land, tend the sheep, and gather at Warrens malt house have been likened to a Greek chorus. Can you support this analogy? What function do the rustics serve in the novel?

4. Time is a theme that weaves throughout the story. One example may be found in Chapter XVI, when Frank Troy stands rigidly in All Saints Church awaiting Fannys delayed arrival while a “grotesque clockwork” agonizingly marks each passing moment. Where else does Hardy employ the theme of time, and what purpose does it serve?

5. In Chapter IV, Bathsheba tells Gabriel, “I want somebody to tame me; I am too independent: and you would never be able to, I know.” How is Bathsheba “tamed” over the course of the novel, and who is responsible for her transformation?

6. How does the subordinate plot concerning Fanny Robin and Sergeant Troy serve as a contract to the main storyline?

7. What do Bathsheba Everdene and Fanny Robin have in common, and how do they differ? And what does Hardys portrayal of these two women reveal about Victorian moral standards?

8. In Gabriel Oak, Sergeant Troy, and Farmer Boldwood, Hardy has depicted three very different suitors in pursuit of Bathsheba Everdene. What distinguishes each of these characters, and what values does each of them represent?

9. Two particular episodes in Far from the Madding Crowd are often cited for their profound sensuality: Sergeant Troys seduction of Bathsheba through swordplay (Chapter XXVIII), and Gabriels sheep-shearing scene (Chapter XXII). What elements does Hardy employ to make these scenes so powerful?

10. At the end of the novel, Hardy describes the remarkable bond between Gabriel and Bathsheba: “Theirs was that substantial affection which arises . . . when the two who are thrown together begin first by knowing the rougher sides of each others character, and not the best till further on, the romance growing up in the interstices of a mass of hard, prosaic reality.” How does this relationship serve as a contrast to other examples of love and courtship throughout the novel? Consider Bathsheba and her three suitors, as well as Fanny Robin and Sergeant Troy.

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Unabridged Chick, October 13, 2011 (view all comments by Unabridged Chick)
I was pretty head-over-heels for this book after the first page but by the time our heroine Bathsheba Everdene appeared, my love was sealed. (How fabulous is that name?!)

There's a vaguely soap opera feel to the story, with the mix of rural drama (honestly, I had no idea there were so many ways sheep could die!) and a love pentagon (two women, three men) and yet, this isn't some fluffy pastoral farce. The romance in this book is hardly romantic: even the passionate points feel a bit grim, as we and the characters understand the implications of each overture and pass. Someone will be hurt, someone else buoyed, and one night makes all the difference in a life. The setting is described with poetic loveliness, but as we see with Farmer Oak's constantly imperiled sheep, rural life is hardly peaceful and bucolic. At times, it is nearly savage, and pretty, clever, fiery, passionate Bathsheba seems to be the personification of the lovely-yet-wild (and fickle!) landscape. She captivates, frightens, and mystifies the men around her, and despite her sometimes over-the-top emotional fits, she manages her own farm and her own courtships with savvy determination.

This book had it all: a heroine I loved, a story that captivated me, and writing that begs to be lingered over!
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bie, February 26, 2008 (view all comments by bie)
I was moved by both the simplicity and at the same time complexity of the plot. Most often, we look very far for things that we think will make us happy only to find out later on that it will not. We often ignore things that are familiar only to find out later on that said thing will make us not just happy but also fulfilled.

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glenda19, December 19, 2006 (view all comments by glenda19)
i like this novel
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(7 of 24 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

Drabble, Margaret
Modern Library
Introduction by:
Drabble, Margaret
Drabble, Margaret
Drabble, Margaret
Hardy, Thomas, Defendant
Hardy, Thomas
New York
Farm life
Love stories
Women farmers
Pastoral fiction.
Didactic fiction
Triangles (Interpersonal relations)
Literature-A to Z
Edition Number:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Modern Library Classics
Series Volume:
no. 29
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8 x 5.18 x 1.1 in 0.95 lb

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Related Subjects

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » General

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