What is the tone of chapter 12 of Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter 12, Bathsheba attends the market at the Corn Exchange. Her presence there is noteworthy because all of the other people in attendance are men. The tone of the first half of the chapter might be described as reverential, as Bathsheba is described as if she is an angel among men. Indeed, Bathsheba's presence is described as "a breeze among furnaces," and "a romance after sermons." Her presence is so conspicuous, and her beauty so remarkable, that "every face ... turn(s) towards her."

As well as being physically beautiful, Bathsheba is also described as having a beautiful, angelic disposition. She doesn't interrupt when people are talking to her, and although she is firm, there is "an elasticity in her firmness which remove(s) it from obstinacy."

Bathsheba's presence is described in a reverential tone by Hardy, and there is also something of a reverential tone in the way that the men at the market talk about her. One such man comments that "she lightens up the place," and remarks that she is "a shapely maid."

In the second half of the chapter, the focus shifts to Farmer Blackwood and how he is perceived from Bathsheba's perspective. She seems attracted to him because of his seeming indifference, and because of what she deems to be his introspective nature. The tone of the chapter, accordingly, becomes curious, and mysterious, reflecting Bathsheba's fascination with Farmer Blackwood. When she sees him for the first time, Bathsheba is "perplexed" by his unusual, dignified demeanour. When she sees him for a second time she exclaims, "Why, there he is!" She also says to Liddie, "He's an interesting man—don't you think so?" Bathsheba seems, at the end of the chapter, as fascinated by the unusual Farmer Blackwood as the rest of the men were with her at the beginning of the chapter.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial