Far From the Madding Crowd

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Themes and Colors
Epic Allusion, Tragedy, and Illusions of Grandeur Theme Icon
Conflict and the Laws of Nature Theme Icon
Women in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Pride and Penance Theme Icon
Class Status and Mobility Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Far From the Madding Crowd, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

In Far From the Madding Crowd, Hardy began to construct a fictional region of England, “Wessex,” which he calls in the preface a “partly real, partly dream-country” and which he went on to further develop in a number of other novels. In some ways, Hardy describes this world and its inhabitants with all the world-historical importance of places found in famous epics, such as Homer’s Ithaca or Troy. And yet, at the same time…

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The title of Far From the Madding Crowd is taken from an 18th-century poem by Thomas Gray, “Elegy on a Country Churchyard,” but it cuts off the rest of the line, which in its entirety reads, “Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife.” While the idea of the bucolic countryside as being free of the “strife” of the crowd is one way to characterize country life, Hardy’s title is ironic: rather than depicting stereotypes of…

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Just as Bathsheba has to struggle against unfriendly natural forces, she also has to navigate a world that is made largely by and for men. This is particularly true once she takes over her uncle’s farm as its mistress and owner. The attitudes of the novel’s characters towards their new female supervisor range from admiring to condescending, and even the novel itself can indulge in stereotyped analysis of specifically “womanly” attributes. What is unmistakable, however…

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One of Bathsheba’s principal weaknesses is her sense of pride, which (at least initially) is linked to vanity. When Gabriel Oak catches her looking at herself in the mirror, Bathsheba is simultaneously embarrassed and comforted by knowing that he’s seen her at her worst. Bathsheba’s pride suffers a number of other setbacks over the course of the novel, setbacks which she ultimately recognizes and accepts as proper ways of atoning for her earlier mistakes.

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Part of Bathsheba’s struggle in deciding whom to marry and how to establish herself stems from her uncertain socioeconomic status throughout the novel. At the beginning, Bathsheba and her aunt don’t have much money, and yet Bathsheba is clearly not a peasant—she is well-educated and seems to occupy a position much above her actual income. Oak, meanwhile, seems to be on his way to reaching the rural middle class before the disaster of…

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