Far From the Madding Crowd

Far From the Madding Crowd


Thomas Hardy

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Far From the Madding Crowd: Chapter 46 Summary & Analysis

Troy wanders towards the coast, desiring to find a home anywhere other than Weatherbury and the farm. He follows a perfectly straight, white road up a hill, and he treads up the path through the muggy air. At the top he sees the broad, still sea, amazed just as Balboa was at the sight of the Pacific. He descends to a bay enclosed by cliffs, and decides to bathe there.
Troy is compared, here, to the first European to set eyes on the Pacific: the book both supports such a noble, tragic view of him, and undercuts it with its depiction of Troy as a childish, selfish man unable to deal with reality.
Epic Allusion, Tragedy, and Illusions of Grandeur Theme Icon
Troy jumps in and swims between two projecting rocks. But he’s caught by a current and is carried out to sea. Now he remembers the danger of this place, where others have died before him. He exhausts himself trying to swim back, and finally decides to tread water at a slight incline. He fixes his eyes at a far distant point where he might land: then, suddenly, he sees a boat in the distance. His energy returns and he swims vigorously toward it, trying to hail the sailors by splashing and shouting. In a few minutes they reach him and haul him in.
Another similarity between Troy and Bathsheba is their impulsiveness and thoughtlessness: while Bathsheba has learned to curb such features, Troy clearly hasn’t—only when it’s too late does he remember about the danger of the place. Still, circumstances (rather than any intentional act) favor Troy, and he’s saved from drowning.
Conflict and the Laws of Nature Theme Icon
After resting, Troy tells his tale and asks to be put ashore at his bathing place. It’s evening by the time they reach the shore, and Troy realizes that there’s no sign of the clothes he left, and he has nothing left to his name. One of the sailors says they’re in need of another hand for a voyage sailing from Budmouth Troy asks how long it will be: six months. He decides to accept, thinking grimly that he’s doing Bathsheba a favor. As night falls, the boat rides towards the port.
Troy’s impulsiveness ends up making the decision for him yet again. This time, though, his choice to leave Weatherbury and his wife is, while still selfish, more intentional than thoughtless. He recognizes how much Bathsheba must loathe him and convinces himself that his abandonment is better for her.
Conflict and the Laws of Nature Theme Icon
Pride and Penance Theme Icon