Far From The Madding Crowd
Publisher: The Copyright Group Ltd.
Date: May 2017
Duration: 2 hours 22 minutes
Far From The Madding Crowd is much more than a tale of rural life; at times the principal characters act madly enough to make the title seem ironic. Hardy subtly spins his story around the disruption of a small community by two differing but equally strong willed outsiders, Bathsheba and Troy. In the end Bathsheba learns from the whirlwind of passion she has unleashed and settles for the best of her suitors. Meanwhile, the beauty of the countryside and the down-to-earth attitudes of the farm workers provide a natural backdrop to the story.
1. A BEAUTY APPEARS. Gabriel Oak, a bachelor and successful young sheep farmer, is overwhelmed by the sight of Bathsheba Everdene, a newcomer to the district, and falls in love. After seeing her several times without her knowledge, he clumsily proposes to her - but she teasingly rejects him. Soon after, she leaves the district. Gabriel is ruined by his foolish dog, who drives his sheep over a cliff, and he has to give up his farm and search for work.
2. A FIRE AND A MEETING. After failing to find work at Casterbridge, Gabriel is on his way past Weatherbury when he sees a fire in a farmyard and helps to extinguish it. This is so impresses the watching farmer - who happens to be Bathsheba Everdene, the farm's new owner - that she agrees to take him on as a shepherd. Gabriel, while looking for lodgings, encounters a frail young girl near the churchyard, and helps her. After an evening at the Malthouse, Gabriel and his fellow farm workers hear that the bailiff has been dismissed for theft. But this news is eclipsed by the discovery than Fanny Robin, Bathsheba's youngest servant, has vanished.
3. A STARTLING DECISION. Bathsheba announces to the amazed farmer workers that she will be her own bailiff. She a makes conspicuous debut at Casterbridge corn-exchange as the sole women, and is slightly piqued to note that one farmer, a wealthy bachelor called William Boldwood, pays her no attention at all. Mischievously, she sends him a valentine card. This has a devastating effect on his peace of mind; he discovers from Gabriel whose writing is on the card. At the same time Gabriel receives a letter from Fanny Robin, thanking him for his help and telling him that she is the young girl he helped in the churchyard and that she expects to marry a solider, Sergeant Troy.
4. THE RESULTS OF FLATTERY. Boldwood, deeply in love with Bathsheba, proposes to her in June but she, Feeling quite differently towards him, asks for a few weeks to consider the matter. That very night, while checking her farm, her skirt is caught by a soldier's spur. Thus she meets Troy, but does not yet succumb to his flattering charm. When they meet, he apologises to her for his impertinence but praises her beauty, so winning her heart. Gabriel tries to warm Bathsheba against Troy to no avail. Soon after, Bathsheba departs from Bath, returning as Mrs Troy.
5. BREAKDOWN OF A MARRIAGE. At the harvest festival, Troy gets the farm hands so drunk that they cannot cover the wheat-ricks against an approaching storm. Gabriel does it himself with help from Bathsheba, who is fast growing disillusioned with her husband. On their way back from the races. The Troys meet a young girl on the road. Bathsheba does not recognise her, but Troy does: she is Fanny Robin, pregnant with his child. Troy gives her money and promises her more, but asking Bathsheba for the money sparks a violent row. When Bathsheba hears Fanny has died, she suspects Troy being involved with her.
6. GUILT REVEALED. Thanks to a drunken wagon driver, Fanny's coffin arrives too late for her funeral to take place. Gabriel tales the coffin to Weatherbury for the night, but deletes the words 'and child' written after Fanny's name. The maid Liddy relates the gossip about a baby to Bathsheba who, desperate to know the truth, removes the coffins lid. The discovery of Fanny and her dead child overwhelms first her and than Troy, who returns to find the coffin open, his confession appals Bathsheba and drives her, distracted, from the house. Meanwhile, Troy orders the best tombstone he can buy for Fanny and slips away to Budmouth. When told that Troy is believed drowned, Bathsheba collapses - and is caught by Boldwood.
7. A VIOLENT END. Bathsheba remains melancholy, while Boldwood grows ever more obsessed with her, letting his farm run down until Gabriel becomes his bailiff. Finally, he asks Bathsheba to marry him if Troy has not returned at the end of six years. She eventually agrees at Boldwood's Christmas party. Moments later, Troy, who is not dead after all. Reappears - but Bathsheba refuses to leave with him, Boldwood driven mad by the prospect of losing her again, shoots Troy and attempts to shoot himself. While he surrenders to police, Bathsheba takes home Troy's corpse and prepares it for burial.
8. NEW BEGINNING. The following August, Bathsheba visits the graveyard, where Troy lies next to Fanny. She breaks down in tears and is observed by Gabriel. He tells her he is thinking of emigrating, which further distresses her. The next day Bathsheba goes to Gabriel's house to complain at his proposed desertion and at last they talk of marriage and realise a profound love 'which many waters cannot quench'.