Far from the Madding Crowd

by Thomas Hardy

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What is the significance of the title in Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd?

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The significance of the title of Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy is that it encapsulates the peaceful, relatively secluded rural culture that is under threat from increased industrialization.

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The title of Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy comes from a very famous poem called "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray. The relevant lines form part of the nineteenth stanza:

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,

Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;

Along the cool sequester'd vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

In alluding to Gray's "Elegy," Hardy is saying something about the rural English community depicted in the novel. This is a unique place, a place of peace and quiet and simple pleasures, where honest country folk adapt themselves to the rhythms of life handed down from generation to generation.

The "noiseless tenor of their way" contrasts with the "ignoble strife" of the city, where "the madding crowd" live. The folk who live in Hardy's fictional rural community have learned to have "sober wishes," which means that they don't have the kind of vain ambitions entertained by their city cousins. Generally speaking, they are content with their lives.

And yet this whole way of life is under threat from increased industrialization. It is all the more important, then, for the people of this remote Wessex community to reinforce their connection with their natural environment, the soil on which their ancestors have walked and worked since time immemorial.

This is absolutely essential if the people who live in this neck of the woods are to preserve their identity. Otherwise, they will soon find themselves not far from the madding crowd, but a part of it.

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