Places Discussed


Wessex. Imaginary English county in which this and other novels by Hardy are set. Wessex corresponds with the real county of Dorset in southwest England. More specifically, the story centers round the village of Weatherbury, events extending to the nearby town of Casterbridge, seven miles away.


Weatherbury. Typical English farming village in Wessex (modeled on Dorset’s Puddletown or Lower Longpuddle). The town’s parish church, in the graveyard of which Fanny and Troy are buried, dates from the fourteenth century. It has a tower in which are fixed the village clock and a number of grotesque gargoyle waterspouts. In front of it, a primitive form of baseball is played by the villagers. Buck’s Head Inn is the main village inn, but the “chorus of yokels” prefer to gather at Warren’s Malt-house, where malt is made for brewing, and which becomes a sort of social club. The village has several small stores. It lies in a valley that stretches eastward toward Shottover.

Weatherbury Upper Farm

Weatherbury Upper Farm. Farm that Bathsheba Everdene inherits from her uncle. It is, as is typical of the area, a mixed farm, raising sheep, cattle, wheat, and barley. Its farmhouse was once the manor of a small estate, so it is spacious, with a stone front, columnar chimneys, and spiral staircases of oak. It has a number of out-buildings, many quite old, such as the Shearing Barn, and farm cottages. However, the house and farm are now leased from an aristocratic landowner who lives at some distance.

Hardy’s description highlights the social change from gentrified farming to middle-class leaseholder with close ties to the laboring community by...

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Historical Context

Critics often point out that Hardy created Wessex, the imaginary setting of many of his novels and poems, to resemble...

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Literary Style

Realism and Romanticism Far from the Madding Crowd is considered by some to be a solid example of realism, a literary style that arose...

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Compare and Contrast

1870s: England begins its shift from a farming economy to an industrial economy, as foreign imported meat and produce drive down farm...

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Topics for Further Study

Research modern methods of raising sheep and make a chart comparing them to the practices described in the novel.

Find a...

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Media Adaptations

An abridged audio edition of Far from the Madding Crowd is available from Blackstone Audiobooks. Released in 1984, it was read by Jill...

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What Do I Read Next?

Far from the Madding Crowd was the first of Hardy’s Wessex novels to draw serious critical attention. While similarities exist...

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Bibliography and Further Reading

Carpenter, Richard, “Thomas Hardy Revisited,” in Thomas Hardy, Twayne’s English Author Series, No. 13,...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Buckler, William. The Victorian Imagination: Essays in Aesthetic Exploration. New York: New York University Press, 1980. Explores the politics and society of Victorian England as it affects the formal elements (plot, character construction, imagery) and the political and social aspects (gender, class, rural/urban relations) of Hardy’s work; specifically addresses Far from the Madding Crowd.

Bullen, J. B. The Expressive Eye: Fiction and Perception in the Work of Thomas Hardy. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1987. Distinguishes Hardy from other writers of the period by examining his painterly eye and visual accuracy;...

(The entire section is 241 words.)