Thomas Hardy’s is famous for his pessimistic
vision of life by involving lifeless existences and catastrophic destinies. His
rustic novel, Far From the Madding Crowd, identifies love in all of its
different forms from selfish to selfless. He makes use of poetic and elevated
diction along with a descriptive writing style to create an intricate web of
coincidences to bring out the self-indulgent quality of love portraying an inevitable
Although the novel is not a straightforward tragedy with an unsatisfying
solution, it is filled with tragic overtones. According to Aristotle a tragedy
in one location, during the same day, and within the
same story however, for Shakespeare a tragedy did not follow these units of
time, place, and action. Instead they took place over a long period time with
several subplots. Therefore, in my opinion, Hardy makes use the Shakespearean
concepts of a tragedy throughout the novel wherein there is tragedy amongst all
of the relationships in the novel because they love selfishly not selflessly.
Throughout the novel one can see how fate is the main source of the tragic
effect which is clearly seen in the love story between Troy and Fanny. He is a
lover who cares about himself. The fact that he seduces Fanny, impregnates her,
and promises her marriage only to leave her on the last day shows how he cares
only about himself.
“The one feat alone—that of dying—by which
a mean condition could be resolved into a grand one, Fanny had achieved. And to
that had destiny subjoined this reencounter to-night, which had, in Bathsheba’s
wild imagining, turned her companion’s failure to success, her humiliation to
triumph, her lucklessness to ascendancy; it had thrown over herself a garish
light of mockery, and set upon all things about her an ironical smile.”
Through these lines one can see how Fanny’s struggles
ultimately led to her death portraying how a selfish love causes a tragedy.
Troy’s materialistic love for Bathsheba further shows how his hedonistic
outlook towards life caused his and her downfall. The only reason he marries
Bathsheba is because she is wealthy and he can use her wealth for gambling. He
also destroys her beliefs in the concept of marriage and her ideas of love and
truth. Troy constantly treats Bathsheba shallowly as seen through the lines:
“Ah! don’t taunt me, madam. This
woman is more to me, dead as she is, than ever you were, or are, or can be. If
Satan had not tempted me with that face of yours, and those cursed coquetries,
I should have married her. I never had another thought until you came in my
way. Would to God that I had; but it is all too late! I deserve to live in
torment for this!” (281).
However, for Hardy one selfish lover wasn’t enough, he
makes use of Boldwood as well to encapsulate the idea of self-indulgent love
and how it leads to a tragedy.