Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Wessex

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

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...

(The entire section is 716 words.)

Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

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

(The entire section is 529 words.)

Literary Style

(Novels for Students)

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

(The entire section is 491 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Novels for Students)

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

(The entire section is 299 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

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

Find a...

(The entire section is 153 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Novels for Students)

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

(The entire section is 239 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Novels for Students)

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

(The entire section is 181 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Novels for Students)

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

(The entire section is 244 words.)

Bibliography

(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; discussion of Hardy’s descriptions of landscapes.

Milligate, Michael. Thomas Hardy: His Career as a Novelist. London: Bodley Head, 1971. A full-length study of Hardy’s life and his concerns, attitudes, values and problems as they affected his writing and its reception. Offers a fair perspective on Hardy’s personal and artistic development.

Shires, Linda M. “Narrative, Gender, and Power in Far from the Madding Crowd.” Novel 24, no. 2 (Winter, 1991): 162-178. Examines the character of Bathsheba Everdene and her feminine power over Oak, Boldwood, and Troy. A feminist analysis that points out Hardy’s portrayal of Bathsheba is unusual, in contrast to other heroines such as Eustacia Vye and Tess Durbeyfield.

Swann, Charles. “Far from the Madding Crowd: How Good a Shepherd Is Gabriel Oak?” Notes and Queries 39, no. 2 (June, 1992): 189-201. Analyzes Gabriel Oak as a character and as a prototype of a Wessex shepherd; addresses Hardy’s interpretation of the rural world.