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How effective is the opening chapter of the novel “Far from the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy “Far from the Madding Crowd” is set in rural Victorian England. The town used in the novel is a fictional town called Weatherbury. As it is set in Victorian times there are no modern appliances and the fastest thing used in work was the horse. The novel is about a man called Gabriel Oak who falls in love with Bathsheba Everdene (who inherits her uncle’s farm). It also features the other men in Bathsheba’s life. Gabriel proposes to her first but is rejected.
Bathsheba has two other admirers they are Mr Boldwood a local farmer and Sergeant Troy a soldier who wins her heart and they marry this saddens both of the other men. The novel ends in Bathsheba marrying Gabriel. The themes in the novel are of love and marriage and the natural world also plays a big part in the novel. Both the positive and negative sides of love are shown. Gabriel love for Bathsheba is honest and kind even though she rejects him. Boldwood shows an obsessive love and Troy shows us an arrogant side, as he is attracted to looks and the sexual side of love rather than personality.
Every major scene in the novel has a background based on nature, like when Gabriel lost all of his sheep and when the storm nearly destroyed the farm. The novel also shows the calmness of nature like the changing of the seasons and harvest and summer time. The seasons and time are also told by nature by the positions of the sun, as they have nothing else to use for time. The story is set in a rural village, where the men worked outside farming. The running of the farm and working outside in the open was considered as a mans job.
This changed when Bathsheba inherited the farm and was in charge. An example from the novel, which showed how surprising it was for a woman to do a mans job was when Bathsheba went to the corn exchange. All of the men in the corn exchange stopped and stared when Bathsheba walked in she was the only woman there, the men were very surprised. The whole society of yokels revolved around the farm. The village depended on the farm for such things as jobs. If anything ever happened to the farm then it hit the whole village and affected everyone.
One of the main characters in the novel is “Gabriel Oak”. His name is very significant as it symbolizes strength and endurance in the “Oak” and “Gabriel” being one of the chief Gods which also shows strength, and power. All of these qualities are shown throughout the novel. He is able to withstand the misfortune in all areas of his life, which shows strength. Gabriel has a way with nature, and is very resourceful when helping out in the farm. He is a man in harmony with nature and enjoys being in the countryside.
The story follows the rhythms of life in the countryside, where the time and seasons can only be told by nature. Gabriel is clever in the way he can tell the time by the positions of the sun and his way with nature. He was the only person who could save Bathsheba’s flock of sheep. His natural rhythms protect him against the tribulations he faces. I don’t think he expressed a lot of emotion during the novel as he is a laid back man. Another main character is Bathsheba Everdene. At the beginning of the book we saw Bathsheba secretly admiring herself in the mirror and then smiling.
This is an example of how vain she is a she knows she is very pretty. As we see later on in the book this is a major fault in her personality. Bathsheba seems to be attracted to bright colours, especially the colour “crimson”. As we see it in her own clothes, the sealing wax of the Valentines Day card, and Troy had a crimson uniform. The last word of Chapter 1 is “vanity”. The author has established some of the features of the two main characters, in this instance Bathsheba being vain. The phrase “Woman’s Prescriptive infirmity,” is a key to the action of the novel.
It shows how much anguish suffered by Gabriel, Boldwood, Troy and Bathsheba is caused by “infirmity”. “Dramas in which men would play a part” And “hearts lost and won” gives clues to the reader as to what is going to happen later on in the novel and the personality of Bathsheba. The complex sentences, are descriptive and show detail, it shows the movement of time and the starting of the different seasons. The major events in the novel, like the death of Gabriel’s flock and the storm are written in great detail. This shows how symbolic and important these scenes are.
The speech between characters in the novel is realistic as it is written in Standard English; how people would talk to each other in the South-West of England, as it is where the story is set. This is easy to understand and makes the story more readable. The structure of the novel is episodic as the serialisation of the story meant the author had to encourage readers to buy each instalment. It was done in a variety of ways: the development of relationships between the main characters, or by the introduction of a problem or catastrophe.
Like the storm, which could have ruined the farm, this would encourage readers to buy the next episode. An important structural theme in the novel is “death”. There is the death of Gabriel’s sheep, then the death of Bathsheba’s uncle, which led to the inheritance of the farm. After that was the death of Fanny Robin and then Troy gets killed after Boldwood’s obsession with Bathsheba gets worse and brings him to shoot Troy. The colour red plays a big part in the novel. It was the colour of Troy’s uniform which helped show the reader the evil side of him.
The red sealing on the Valentines card, brings out Boldwood’s passion for Bathsheba. The book also follows a lot of biblical terms; there is a glossary in the back for all the words not used today. Gabriel the name is just one example of a biblical term. The opening chapter of the novel is effective in that it summarises the plot, creates the setting (the countryside in rural Victorian England). It introduces two of the main characters, Gabriel Oak and Bathsheba Everdene.
The first chapter shows us a good description of Gabriel Oak, giving the reader and understanding of how symbolic his name is. There is also a good introduction to the character Bathsheba and shows the vain side she has. However as the rest of the novel is filled with catastrophes and action the first chapter doesn’t really have any of this in it. It is more about introducing the main characters and getting the reader adapted to the dialogue used. As the novel was intended to be published episodically it was important that the opening chapter did make people want to read on. Rebecca Johnson.