What are some implications of the title? To whom might it have appealed in 1874?
Chapter 1: Description of Farmer Oak: An Incident
Is there anything usual about this novel’s choice of protagonist? What do we learn about “Farmer Oak” even before any “incidents” have occurred?
What seems implied in the choice of his name?
Can you see any resemblances to prior nineteenth-century novels? (e. g., Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Adam Bede)
What characterizes the descriptions of his surrounding landscape?
How is the woman whom he views described? What does the narrator tell us are traits of all women? (desire not to have vanity observed, resentment of disagreement)
What do we learn of her behavior and Oak’s intervention? Are these entirely propitious?
Chapter 2: Night -- The Flock -- An Interior -- Another Interior
What characterizes the rhetoric of Hardy’s landscape descriptions? (sense of deep time, Biblical echoes of “the great day of confusion”; metaphor of cathedral) Why do you think these are so extensive?
What instrument does Gabriel play? (flute) In what surroundings do we meet him? (a hut) What do we learn about his past and financial situation? (experienced at shepherding, 200 sheep yet unpaid for)
What do we learn from Gabriel’s viewing of the stars by night? (12, can tell time by stars)
What is added by the frequent classical and historical allusions? (e. g., Lucina goddess of childbirth)
Under what circumstances does Oak again view the visiting “girl”? (looks into hut; narrator again seems a bit voyeuristic) Does it seem strange that he should view the strangers unnoticed?
Chapter 3: A Girl on Horseback: Conversation
What is marked as unusual about the “girl”’s riding habits? (doesn’t use side-saddle, seems comfortable stretched out on a horse)
What are some metaphors used to describe her? (a sapling, a kingfisher, 13)
What characterizes their second meeting? (he has observed her, she feels embarrassed to have been observed)
What unfortunate lapse on his part next brings them together? (he fails to open door of his hut and the heat of the latter almost suffocates him) For what does she chide him? (for leaving door shut)
Why is she apparently reluctant to reveal her name? What are some associations of the name Bathsheba?
What characterizes their next (and future) exchanges? (she makes an advance, in this case suggesting that he should kiss her hand, then denies it, to his frustration)
Chapter 4: Gabriel’s Resolve: The Visit: The Mistake
What “mistake” is referred to in the chapter’s title? What gift does he offer in courting, and how does he present himself to Bathsheba’s aunt?
Why do you think the aunt invents imaginary suitors for her niece? Why does Oak suspend his suit?
What do you make of Bathsheba’s eagerness to deny a prior suitor, and her seeming change of mind as she listens to Oak’s proposal?
What are some unintentionally humorous aspects of his proposal and of her answers? What seems revealed about Bathsheba’s character and values in her replies?
What is added to the scene by its physical setting? (they face one another with a bush between)
What do you think of her chiding of her for her answers? Of her chiding of him for marrying without thought of money/ then for his acknowledgement that he hasn’t chosen to be prudent?
Why do you think Bathsheba cuts off any possibility of a courtship?
Chapter 5: Departure of Bathsheba: A Pastoral Tragedy
What is the “tragedy” referred to in the title, and under what circumstances does it occur? (younger sheep dog chases sheep over cliff)
How does Gabriel respond to the news of his great losses? (is glad not to have brought poverty on a wife; at 28 feels lack of energy for renewing struggle to better himself)
What do you make of the fact that he pauses to view a nearby pond? (33, Pre-Raphaelite image of details perceived clearly in moment of stress)
What is the fate of the unfortunate dog and what moral does the narrator frame in response? (shot; consistency often not rewarded)
What is Gabriel’s financial situation after this loss? (is left with no possessions but without debt)
Chapter 6: The Fair: The Journey: The Fire.
What changes have occurred in Gabriel in the two months since his loss?
How many men seek employment at the fair? With what tone does the narrator describe them?
How does Gabriel fare among them? (is unable to find work as a bailiff and presents himself as a shepherd)
With what motives does he set off toward a fair near Weatherbury?
What accident causes him to hear two rural men talking of Bathsheba? (has fallen asleep in their wagon) What do they say of her? (vain, now wealthy)
What act of bravery does Gabriel perform en route to the farm now owned by Bathsheba? How does this determine his future occupation? (is hired as a shepherd)
Chapter 7: Recognition: A Timid Girl
Who vouches for Gabriel as future employee? (all those who have worked to put out the fire)
How does Bathsheba react upon meeting him? (recalls the past, pleased at her new position)
Whom does he meet in the woods, and what condition does she seem to be in? (a poor, frail woman with a bundle, whose pulse indicates great stress)
What does she ask of him? (that he not mention her presence) What can he offer her? (gives her a shilling)
Chapter 8: The Malthouse: The Chat: News
What are some features of Hardy’s rustics? Do you think there is a bit of condescension in their portrayal?
What characterizes their speech? (comically illogical, heavy in dialect)
What useful or interesting pieces of information do we learn from it? (Gabriel’s grandfather and father had been known to various older members of the company; Joseph Poorgrass shy in front of his employer)
What discomfiting stories are told about Joseph Poorgrass? How does the company respond to the topic of beer?
Of what does Gabriel inquire, and what are the answers? (Bathsheba’s parents had died early; her mother also handsome; he had fallen into bankruptcy several times)
What do you make of the story that Mr. Everdene was only able to love his wife when he fancied they were unmarried? (Hardy’s narrator has grave reservations about the fixity of marriage)
What are the rustics’ views of religion?
What news is brought of the bailiff? (has been fired by Bathsheba for stealing) Do we feel sympathy? (no, has been described as mean)
What do we learn of the fate of Fanny Robin? (apparently the young woman whom Gabriel had met; had been keeping company with a soldier of unknown name)
What books constitute Gabriel’s library? Would they have been familiar and available works at the time?
What do they indicate about his leisure studies?
Chapter 9: The Homestead: A Visitor: Half-Confidences
Why won’t Bathsheba greet the visitor who has come calling? (worried about her appearance)
What do we learn about her maid Liddy? (adapts to her mistress)
What has Mr. Boldwood done for Fanny? (has paid for her schooling and obtained a job for her) What does Lydia report of him? (has been sought by many other women)
What humorous reason does Lydia give for her unmarried state?
How are the farm workers who enter described? (dehumanized, seem farm animals and eccentrics)
Chapter 10: Mistress and Men: Inquiries
Is Bathsheba concerned for the fate of Fanny Robin? (yes, a redeeming quality)
How does she behave toward her farm hands? (treats them fairly)
What unusual step has she taken in arranging her affairs? (will serve without bailiff--probably unwise for someone with little farm experience)
What does she promise? (will astonish them by her industry) Does this seem a wise promise? (at least indicates her sincerity) How will she treat them? (fairly, if they work well)
How does she behave toward Gabriel? (cooly, to the extent of suprising him) To what does the narrator attribute her new manner? (her elevation, as Jove and the gods reached a larger Olympian realm)
What does the messenger William report of Fanny? (has gone to meet her lover, a soldier in the regiment)
What ominous news is given of the movements of the nearby regiment? (they have departed, depriving Fanny of her hope of marrying Troy)
Chapter 11: Melchester Moor: Snow: A Meeting
What characterizes the landscape described in the opening paragraphs? (an icy night) Is this a metaphor for the scene which follows?
How does Troy respond to Fanny’s presence? To her pleas? What important promises has he forgotten?
How does she respond? What does the reader predict will be the outcome of their relationship? (he won’t keep his promises to visit her or to marry her)
Chapter 12: Farmers: A Rule: An Exception
What preoccupies Bathsheba as she sells her wares in the Casterbridge corn-market? What reaction do the male farmers have to her presence?
Do they refuse to buy from her? (no, are eager to converse with her--in the movie she is left abandoned, to create sympathy for her plight)
What absence of attention does she resent? (one man has shown no interest in her) What does she perceive to be his traits? (dignified) What information about him does she seek, and from whom? (asks Liddy whether he is married)
What conclusion does she draw regarding him? (badly used and reserved) What is comic about her judgment? (can’t possibly know) About Liddy’s responses to her? (agrees with her no matter how contradictory her opinions)
What do you make of Hardy’s assumption that every handsome woman must be eager for universal admiration?
What do you make of the narrator’s asides concerning women in general?
Chapter 13: Sortes Sanctorum: The Valentine
To whom does Bathsheba intend to send her Valentine? (little Teddy Coggan) What do you make of the fact that she changes her mind?
Is her decision really Liddy’s responsibility, as she later claims?
Does the affixing of the seal, “Marry me,” seem consistent with her character otherwise?
How are we to interpret the scene in which the bible is used for deciding on the recipient of the Valentine? (some of blame cast on servant for suggesting something so irrational)
Is the narrator’s claim that this was a thoughtless and innocent gesture with no meaning convincing? (she is presented as vain of her appearance, eager to attract attention, and flirtatious toward men without sincerity)
Chapter 14: Effect of the Letter: Sunrise
What effect does the letter have on Mr. Boldwood? Does this seem consistent with Liddy’s account of his rejection of prior matrimonial advances?
For whom is the letter handed by mistake to him? (Gabriel)
Chapter 15: A Morning Meeting: The Letter: A Questions
What account do the frequenters of the local bar give regarding their mistress? (seem eager to criticize, but the only specific complaint is that she didn’t hire Mr. Henery as her bailiff)
What movtivates Gabriel’s entrance into the bar? (needs to warm his lambs at the fire to revive them)
What threat does he make against anyone who might criticize their mistress? Does it seem strange that the others fail to wonder why he should feel such emotion regarding the matter?
On what grounds do the others attempt to incite him to resent his mistress? (fails to give certain sheepskins to workers)
What disappointment does he admit to? (would have liked to be bailiff) Would this have been a reasonable hope? (he is the only one who had run a farm)
What are the contents of the letter Mr. Boldwood brings to him? (from Fanny, she returns the shilling and expects to be married quite soon)
What does Gabriel do with the letter? (shows it to Mr. Boldwood) How does he respond? (fears that she will not in fact be married)
What new information does this give the company? (the name of her seducer, Sergeant Troy)
What unexpected question does Mr. Boldwood ask Gabriel? (whose handwriting is on the Valentine) Does it seem strange that he would ask this question of a shepherd on the neighboring farm?
Chapter 16: In the Market-Place
What characterizes Mr. Boldwood’s observation of Bathsheba in the market place?
After she notices this, what does the narrator tell us is now her attitude toward him? (is sorry she has disturbed his peace)
Chapter 17: Boldwood in Meditation: A Visit
Later under what circumstances does he attempt to approach her, and why does he desist? (she is tending to sheep with Gabriel, Boldwood feels self-conscious and shy)
Chapter 18: The Sheep-Washing: The Offer
Under what circumstances does Mr. Boldwood propose marriage to Bathsheba, and how does she respond? (states that he is too dignified for her, needs time to think)
What do you think of her response? (not likely to discourage him)
Does anything about this encounter strike you as strange by modern standards? (they haven’t even held a conversation)
Chapter 19: Perplexity: Grinding the Shears: A Quarrel
What does the narrator give as Bathsheba’s reason for not wishing to marry him? (novelty of running farm hasn’t worn off, women desire marriage but not men)
What does Bathsheba ask Gabriel? (if the men have noticed her conversation with Mr. Boldwood) Why does she ask him rather than one of the others?
What intervention does Bathsheba ask Gabriel to make in her farmworkers’ reactions to her conversation with Mr. Boldwood? (has asked him to tell the others that she has no romantic relationship with Mr. Boldwood) Does this seem a reasonable request? (drags him into her personal life)
Does Bathsheba wish Gabriel to feel continued attachment to her? (yes, selfish, 116) What do we learn of her valuation of his opinion? (values it more than her own, 116)
On what grounds does she fire him? (has answered truthfully that she should not lead Mr. Boldwood on; she goads him with mentioning his rejected proposal) Do you think either he or she will have cause to regret their words later? (in view of the tragic outcome, his words were wise)
What opinion does Gabriel give of the incident of the Valentine? (feels it unseemly. This is a quite specific criticism of an act which he might not have been expected to know of.)
How does he respond? (leaves immediately)
Chapter 20: Troubles in the Fold: A Message: Return
What frightening incident causes Bathsheba to beseech Gabriel’s return? (he is the only one in the district who can deal with “blasted” sheep) Had he not returned, what might have happened? (the farm might have failed)
What earlier incident in the plot does this seem to echo?
Whom does she send as messenger, and with what message? (orders him the first time, beseeches him the second) What message accompanies his first refusal, and is this surprising? (“beggars mustn’t be choosers”)
What has changed in her second message? (calls him by first name) What brings about reconciliation? (asks him to return)
Chapter 21: The Great Barn and the Sheep-Shearers
What does the narrator find remarkable about the great barn? (has never changed its form or function) Could this be said today?
At what task does Mr. Boldwood interrupt Gabriel and Bathsheba? (shearing sheep; sheep compared to human female)
How is the freshly-cut wool described?
What causes Gabriel to wound a sheep, and how does Bathsheba respond? How does he respond to the gossip of the other shearers? (denies that Bathsheba and Mr. Boldwood had kissed!)
What does the narrator tell us is Gabriel’s response to the incident? (feels she had deceived him and would in fact marry Mr. Boldwood; had wanted to be bailiff while she still remained unmarried)
What bible verse does the narrator claim that Gabriel now notices? (133, seems a bit much)
Chapter 22: A Pleasant Time: A Second Declaration
Is the harvest scene as portrayed unmitigatedly idyllic? What are some prophetic resonances in the songs with which they entertain themselves?
What manner does Bathsheba use toward Gabriel? (peremptory, orders him without saying "please") What pointed gesture does she make in appointing seats at the harvest table? (Gabriel is asked to give up his seat for Mr. Boldwood)
To what does the “second declaration” of the title refer? How does Bathsheba respond? (is pleased with the "triumph" of his regard; cannot make up mind)
Are there any inconsistencies in her response to her suitor?
Chapter 23: The Same Night in the Fir Plantation
How is the location of Bathsheba's meeting with Sergeant Troy described? (very dark, though near home)
What accident brings them in physical propinquity? How is Sergeant Troy described, and what are some implications of his appearance and speech?
Why doesn't Bathsheba escape? (he intentionally delays in freeing her; would ruin her best dress) What remarks does he make to her, and in what tone?
Are there aspects of the setting which make these remarks improper? Does she take offense? (is flattered in retrospect)
What remarks upon women in general are intruded by the narrator? (flattery always overmasters reason)
What erotic overtones inhere in this scene?
What information regarding Troy's past does Bathsheba learn from Liddy?
Chapter 24: The New Acquaintance Described
What features of Troy's character are remarked on by the narrator? (selfish with women, garrulous and glib, lacks sense of consequences)
What means does he use for pleasing women? (flattery) Why does it succeed? (flattery dear to women)
Chapter 25: Scene on the Verge of the Hay-Mead
What flattering sentiments does Troy persist in repeating to Bathsheba in the sight of her workers?
What makes his advances different from those of her other suitors? (harps on how pained he will be if she punishes him for praising her beauty)
How does she respond? (admits she has been called handsome, is eager to hear his attentions while feigning not to be) Do her reactions seem consistent with her character in other contexts? (she has resented excessive aggressiveness in the past; hasn't responded to the pleas of the love-lorn; also his wiles are too blatant to be plausible, even to the vainest; she has been shown as selfish but not completely naive or simple-minded)
What emotion does he profess? (intense and instantaneous love) What unusual gift does he give her, and with what profession of sentiments? (his father's watch)
What emotions in her does he seem to have stirred? What admission does she make to him? (has been disturbed)
Chapter 26: Hiving the Bees
What do you make of the fact that no one tells Bathsheba of Troy's sexual past, even though several are aware of it, among them Gabriel and Mr. Boldwood? Why does she not investigate?
What happens as she hives bees, and who appears to help her with this task? Are there symbolic elements to this scene? (ties her clothes on him; bees suggestive of seduction)
What performance does she express an interest in seeing, and what seems ominous about the proposed setting? (wishes to see sword demonstration, will meet him alone in the dark without her servant)
Chapter 27: The Hollow Amid the Ferns
What astounding performance does Troy undertake with Bathsheba as subject? What do you make of the wisdom of either engaging in or subjecting oneself to such danger?
What symbolism inheres in the fact that he intentionally slices off a lock of her hair, and shears a caterpillar on her breast? What suggestive language does he employ? (161)
How does she respond to all this? (frightened but impressed, feels "like one who has sinned a great sin")
What final act does he perform on leaving, and how does this affect her? (kisses her, this overpowers her emotions)
Chapter 28: Particulars of a Twilight Walk
What excuses does the narrator make for Bathsheba's infatuation? (Troy's deformities lay deep down from a woman's vision) What can he mean by noting that Oak's "defects were patent to the blindest"? (defects seem chiefly to be of rank, and Troy also of lower standing)
What motivates Gabriel to remonstrate with Bathsheba on the dangers of Sergeant Troy? Would this have been expected from a farm manager? (he fears for her well-being)
What topics do they discuss, and what does she confide to him? (has no intention of marrying Mr. Boldwood) On what grounds does she defend Troy? (is of good character. attends church unobtrusively by the side door)
What response does Gabriel make when she attempts to fire him for the second time? (he will leave if she is willing to hire a bailiff--obviously believes she needs help) What does he state as a cause of resentment and what reason does he give for his residence on the farm? (her condescension despite the fact that they had been social equals; he remains there so that her affairs won't go to ruin)
What proof does he find that Troy had been lying to Bathsheba?
Chapter 29: Hot Cheeks: Tearful Eyes
How does Bathsheba behave when she hears her servants gossiping about her? How does she behave toward the faithful Liddy? (threatens to fire her--petulant)
What creates renewed peace between these women? (Bathsheba recants; Liddy kisses her) What emotions does Bathsheba associate with her love? (fears future, feels regret that she has been born a woman)
What concern does Bathsheba express when Liddy notes her fearsome aspect when angry? (doesn't want to be thought mannish--seems very sensitive re: image)
Chapter 30: Blame: Fury
With what does Mr. Boldwood reproach Bathsheba? (leading him on and changing her mind) What is her response? Do you feel her defenses are justified? (hadn't wished to cause such pain) Does it seem reasonable that Mr. Boldwood should berate a woman for not accepting him who has declared that she does not love him?
Of what behavior does he accuse her? (of transferring her love to Sergeant Troy, and being kissed by him) What is her reply? Does the extremity of his anger and grief suggest any possible bad outcomes? (threatens to beat Troy, and will later kill him) Does someone capable of threats of violence seem like a satisfactory future husband?
What does Bathsheba fear? (that Boldwood will indeed harm Troy--fears for Troy, not Boldwood)
Chapter 31: Night: Horses Tramping
From what vantage point is the account of Bathsheba's departure to Bath told? (servant sees someone leave with the horse)
What homely methods are used by Gabriel and his fellow farm worker to trace the presumed thief? (horsehoofs slacken, illustrations provided; they trace the tracks with matches)
When they find Bathsheba, what does she tell them? Why does Gabriel suggest that the night's journey be kept secret from others? (he fears for her reputation)
What does the narrator tell us had been Bathsheba's intentions in heading directly for Bath? Do these make sense? (going in person to ask him to leave was an obvious mistake for an infatuated woman)
Chapter 32: In the Sun: A Harbinger
What comic intervention delays Cainy Ball from recounting his news of Bathsheba and Sergeant Troy to his rustic audience?
How do the rustics behave toward the anxious boy? (kindly) How does Gabriel respond to the news? (sharper tempered than usual)
What news does he give of Bathsheba? (had been weeping, the lovers were courting)
Which of his fellow laborers offers Gabriel understanding and sympathy? (Coggan)
Chapter 33: Home Again: A Juggler
Under what conditions does Mr. Boldwood find Sergeant Troy? What does he attempt to bribe him to do?
What expedient does Troy manage in order to enlighten Mr. Boldwood about Bathsheba's attachment to him? Does the entire procedure seem voyeuristic?
What does Mr. Boldwood then wish Troy to do? (marry Bathsheba)
What accounts for his changed desire? (believes that she will be disgraced by spending the night with Troy) Would anyone in fact know, and would this in fact have ruined her life, as Mr. Boldwood fears?
What ominous suggestion does Mr. Boldwood make in passing? (that he might kill Troy or himself--in the event he does one and attempts the second)
Chapter 34: At An Upper Window
How does Gabriel react to the news of Bathsheba's marriage? (feels grief, surprise, and pain for her; puts best face on matter for her sake)
What opinions on building renovations does Troy give? Why would Hardy himself have found them offensive? (believed in restoration and preservation)
What condescending action does Troy engage in? (gives the men money for drinking his health; says anyone who won't join will lose their winter jobs)
Who else does Gabriel note feels grief at the news of Bathsheba's wedding? (Boldwood rides by with altered appearance)
Chapter 35: Wealth in Jeopardy: The Revel
What ominous weather change is noted at the beginning of the chapter? Why are the other farm residents oblivious? (at harvest/wedding feast)
What characterizes the narrator's description of the music played at the feast? (describes tones of tambourine)
What contrasting responses to the potential crop disaster is shown by Gabriel and Troy? (Troy refuses to hear about it)
What unfortunate gift does Troy offer to the revelers? How do his wife and guests respond? (Bathsheba warns that it will hurt them)
What small, ominous signs warn Gabriel of the approaching storm as he travels home? (toad, slug, huddled sheep) Why will none of the men help him save the crop? (all in drunken stupor)
What comic incident occurs as he visits Mr. Tall's home to fetch the key to the granary?
What expedients does he manage to protect the wheat and barley? (covers two ricks, doubles over hay in other wheat ricks, thatches barley with spars)
Chapter 36: The Storm: The Two Together
Under what circumstances do Gabriel and Bathsheba finish saving the barley?
What makes this operation so dangerous? What preliminary precaution saves their lives? (lightning close by; Gabriel adds chain as lightning rod)
What characterizes Hardy's description of the storm? What damage does it causes? (tree splits; among the finest passage of the book)
What explanation/confession does she make to him? What does this seem to indicate about her judgment? (married Troy to prevent his choice of another woman)
Are there any unconventional features in this conversation? (insults him needlessly, confesses that she married from jealousy, fears she may die) What is its setting? (on top of hay rick)
How does he respond to her thanks? (notes that since she has married she has been more demonstratively grateful to him than before)
Chapter 37: Rain: One Solitary Meets Another
Do the other farm workers note what they have failed to do?
Whom does Gabriel meet when going home, and what confession does he make? (Mr. Boldwood confesses his unhappiness)
Chapter 38: Coming Home: A Cry
To what does the "cry" in the chapter's title refer?
How much time has elapsed since the Troy-Bathsheba wedding? (one year) What expensive vice does he confess to her?
Does the reader later come to mistrust his claim that he has needed a great deal of money to pay gambling debts?
Whom do they meet when riding in their vehicle, and what condition is she in? How does she respond to the sight of Troy? (falls down)
What does Troy promise her? What account does he give of the incident to his wife? (tells her he doesn't know the woman's name)
What aspect of Troy's character is shown by his treatment of animals? (harsh to horse)
Chapter 39: On Casterbridge Highway
What is added to the chapter by Hardy's mode of narration? What emotions does it evoke in the reader? (sympathy and horror)
What expedients does Fanny use to gain strength to continue her difficult journey?
What is the fate of her canine helper? (is stoned from door of workhouse)
Chapter 40: Suspicion: Fanny Is Sent For
What causes an argument between the married couple? (he asks for money but will not say for what purpose)
What does the narrator tell us have been Bathsheba's views of an ideal life? (votaress of Diana, had been proud of independence)
What significant token does she note, and how does he explain it? (yellow lock of hair had belonged to a previous love)
What news comes to the farm of Fanny Robin's fate, and who is the messenger? (Joseph, as sent by Mr. Boldwood and Gabriel) What can we infer by the gaps in his story?
How had Fanny died, and under what precipitating circumstances? (exhaustion before giving birth) Why had she traveled to the Union? (only place where she could deliver a child)
What preparations does Bathsheba make for bringing back her body?
What significant information about Fanny's past does she gain from Liddy? (Troy had indicated indirectly that her lover had been he)
Chapter 41: Joseph and his Burden: “Buck’s Head”
What weather delays the progress of Fanny's coffin back to the Everdene farm? What prompts Joseph's retirement to a tavern?
Who finds and rebukes him, and then drives the coffin back to the farmstead?
Why does Gabriel regret the need for the coffin to remain overnight? (Bathsheba may learn that Fanny is buried with an infant)
Why would this knowledge be painful for her?
Chapter 42: Fanny’s Revenge
Whose house does Bathsheba seek in her anxiety, and why? (Gabriel the only person who might tell her the truth; he looks upon circumstances dispassionately--a fine passage, 261)
Why does she return to her own home? (he's gone to bed) What strange act does she decide to do? (open Fanny's coffin)
How is Fanny's infant described? (with a poem)
Under what circumstances does he approach the coffin? (with Troy) How does he react to the sight of the dead woman and child?
What claim does he make now that Fanny is dead? (she is his wife morally) Does this claim become him? (had mistreated Fanny in life; wounds his wife now)
What claim does the narrator make about Bathsheba's depth of response? (262, she suffered more than Fanny, an incredible claim, since we have seen Fanny's desperation before her death)
Chapter 43: Under a Tree: Reaction
Why does Bathsheba flee into the darkness? What does she experience during her night in the woods? Who finds her and what does she give as her reason for returning to the house? (better to be abused than homeless) How does she seek to avoid Troy? (goes to attic) Is this strictly rational? (he would presumably seek her out and be angry)
Chapter 44: Troy’s Romanticism
What does Troy do to decorate Fanny's grave? What acts of nature conspire to frustrate his aim? (rain from spout uproots flowers)
What seems significant about Hardy's description of the gargoyle? (275-76, symbolically grotesque)
What emotion does Troy experience for the first time? (hates himself)
Chapter 45: The Gargoyle: Its Doings
What prompts Bathsheba to examine Fanny's grave? What is unusual about the stone placed there?
What do she and Gabriel do to tend the grave? How are we expected to view her actions? (respectful and unselfish, a sign that grief has made her more empathetic)
Whom does Bathsheba meet when she visits Fanny's grave? How does she respond to the inscription and derangement of its flowers? (responds calmly but carefully replants the flowers)
How do we interpret her response? (has mellowed somewhat from grief)
Chapter 46: Adventures by the Shore
What strange and unexpected incident occurs to Troy after he leaves home? (almost drowns)
What saves him, and what are his next adventures? (after becoming a sailor, lives for a time in the United States)
Chapter 47: Boldwood Again: The Clothes
What are Bathsheba's expectations for the future? (assumes her husband will return, believes they will lose the farm and live in wretchedness)
What news is brought to Bathsheba in the corn market, and how does she react? (faints)
Who attends her at this moment? How does she return home? (drives herself home)
What is revealed by an examination of Troy's clothing? (had expected to return) What ruminations does Bathsheba make on the fact that he had followed Fanny into death? (could have committed suicide and attempted to make it seem as though he had not intended to do so)
What does she finally do with the lock of Fanny's hair which Troy had kept in his watch? (at first intends to burn it, then keeps it as a token)
Chapter 48: Oak’s Advancement: A Great Hope
What changes occur in Gabriel's situation? (becomes bailiff for Bathsheba and assumes management of Boldwood's farm, able to keep share of profits in latter for himself)
As Boldwood continues to hope Bathsheba will marry him, on what does he found his hopes? (she will compensate for wrong done to him) Does this seem the correct approach to a courtship? (he doesn't ask whether she might wish to marry him; to expect someone to marry from obligation is coercive)
What information does he gain from Liddy? (her mistress had said that in six years she would be legally free to marry)
Does the chapter title seem to mislead the reader a bit? (one might think that the hope was Gabriel's)
Chapter 49: The Sheep Fair: Troy Holds His Wife’s Hand
What characterizes the flocks of sheep on their way to the fair? (all different colors and breeds; a mass of fluff and anxiety)
What event draws Bathsheba to the performance of a traveling show? Who arranges for her seat?
What has brought Troy to the area? (has been reluctant to appear at home and so has joined a troupe of traveling players)
How does he manage to avoid being recognized? (doesn't speak his part) Does this seem plausible?
Who recognizes him, and what is Troy's reaction to this? (goes in search of Pennyways!)
What bizarre method does he use to gain further information? (cuts hole in tent at tea pavilion in order to hear her conversation)
What bold and startling act does Troy commit? (steals paper with the news of his presence from Bathsheba's hand)
Chapter 50: Bathsheba Talks with Her Outrider: Advice
Who is the "outrider"? What emotions does Bathsheba feel toward Boldwood? (pity and guilt)
What is the result of his renewed proposal? (promises to speak of the matter again at Christmas, will never marry any other man while he desires to marry her)
In the end, will she keep this latter promise?
To whom does she confide her difficulties? Does this seem odd? What is his advice? (sees nothing wrong with an advance promise, but remarks that it is wrong to marry without love)
What does Bathsheba regret? (that he had not spoken of his own love!) Would she have accepted him? (no, wanted to decline politely!)
What does the reader infer from the fact that she is "ruffled" by this circumstance for some time afterwards?
Chapter 51: Converging Courses
What great event has Mr. Boldwood arranged for Christmas?
What are Bathsheba's emotions as she prepares for the party? Does she intend to stay long? (no)
What warning does Gabriel give Mr. Boldwood as the latter confines his thoughts to him before the party? (not to be too confident)
Who has become Troy's confederate? (Pennyways the bailiff) What has rendered Troy reluctant to rejoin his wife? (possibly may have lost legal rights through changing his name with the intent to deceive)
Of what event is he unreasonably critical? (thought that his wife might respond to the attentions of another man)
What do you make of the fact that Bathsheba tells Liddy she is anxious at the thought of wounding Mr. Boldwood's feelings? Had she worried about wounding Gabriel's feelings in the past? (necessary for plot in that her compunction and concern makes her more sympathetic as the violent events unfold)
What new arrangement does Mr. Boldwood plan to make for Gabriel? (he will have larger share in farm and perhaps take it over in time) Does his generosity affect Gabriel's future social and economic standing? (as proprietor of a farm he would be equal in social standing to Bathsheba, and thus no longer merit her condescension)
What warning does Troy disregard as he sets out to surprise his wife at the party? (Pennyways believes there may be trouble, she may be able to get a separation, a return at this moment would cause upset)
Is Pennyways correct? How would the novel have been altered had Troy walked quietly into his wife's home during daylight, or sent a message to her before arriving?
Chapter 52: Momentae Horae Concurritur
What is meant by the title of this chapter? Is it indeed the climax of the book's many unexpected events?
What warning of future events is provided by the conversation of Mr. Boldwood's employees?
At what point does Mr. Boldwood's courtship of Bathsheba arrive? (328, agrees that she will marry no one else) What do you make of the fact that she cries as she agrees to marry him six years hence?
How does she respond to his offer of a ring? (stamps on floor and tears come to eyes!) Should he not have been warned by her distress?
What do those who leave for the tavern find as they approach it? (Troy is looking in) What do the three resolve to do, and do they fulfill their intentions? (resolve to give warning to Mr. Boldwood or Bathsheba)
Under what circumstances does Troy enter the scene? Who recognizes him first and who last? (the men first recognize him, then Bathsheba, then Boldwood)
How does she respond to the sight? To Troy's attempt to drag her away? (screams)
How is the murder described? What prevents Mr. Boldwood from committing suicide? (Samway strikes gun so that the bullet hits ceiling instead)
Is this entirely a mercy? Had Mr. Boldwood died at this juncture, how might the plot have been somewhat altered? (Bathsheba would have felt greater guilt)
What elements of classical tragedy are exhibited in this scene? (reversal, recognition, fall from high to law, death)
Chapter 53: After the Shock
For what does the narrator praise Bathsheba? What are her actions directly following her husband's death? (takes body home and dresses it for burial)
What has been unusual about her decisions? (after a murder one is supposed to wait for the coroner)
What errand has Gabriel been asked to perform? (fetches doctor; he also reports crime and brings pastor)
What condition does she fall into after the others arrive? (faints, cries out that it has been her fault)
Chapter 54: The March Following: “Bathsheba Boldwood”
With what emotions do the gathered neighbors await Mr. Boldwood's trial? (sympathy)
Why do they not attend his trial? (believe he will not want to be observed) Does this seem right? (may be glad others care, since he will not see them again)
What is the sentence? What new evidence is found in Boldwood's home which butresses a claim of insanity?
Do you think that obsessiveness would likely be taken as proof of insanity, then or now?
Who visits Mr. Boldwood the day before his planned execution? (Gabriel) What ominous sight does he see as he leaves town?
What do we learn of Bathsheba's emotions as she waits? (restless, unhappy, changed in manner and appearance)
Under what circumstances do the farmworkers and neighbors await news of Mr. Boldwood's fate? (stand in highway waiting for messenger)
What is the verdict? (will remain in prison)
Chapter 55: Beauty in Loneliness: After All
How does Bathsheba fare in the months after her husband's death?
What site does she visit, and how does she respond to the graves of her husband and Fanny Robin? Is it appropriate that these two should be buried together? Would it have been customary?
How does she respond to Gabriel's intention to leave the farm? (concerned for herself, no interest in his lack of future)
What roles has he begun to fulfill on the farm? (buys and sells for her; conducts all her business)
How does she react to his letter of resignation? (cries; he has been the only true friend she has ever had; has assumed his hopeless love for her a right)
What transpires when she visits him in his modest dwelling? What arrangements has he made since last talking with her? (will be tenant of neighboring farm; this is a rise in independence)
What has caused the change in her sentiments? (has thought more of him since he had arranged to leave)
What self-respecting rejoiner does Gabriel Oak make to her criticisms?
What do the narrator's remarks on the conjunction of comraderie and attraction suggest about their love? (of the deepest kind and most enduring kind)
Chapter 56: A Foggy Night and Morning: Conclusion
What kind of wedding does Bathsheba wish, and why do you think this may be so?
What comic concealments must be made to conceal the upcoming wedding?
How do bride and bridegroom feel as the wedding approaches? (she is excited and nervous, he pleased)
What welcome and celebration is brought by Oak's friends among the farmworkers? How does this contrast with their earlier reception of Troy?
What ominous warnings are made by the visitors privately? (they assume that married couples will be less happy in time)
Who gets the last word? How would you describe the ending? (qualified resignation) Do you think this fits the plot?
On balance, have the final scenes provided a fitting closure to the book?
Are there any elements of the plot or its emotions which still remain unresolved? (Boldwood will sit in prison indefinitely--he seems suddenly forgotten)
In general how would you describe Hardy’s narrative voice? His choice of diction?
What purpose seems served by the repeated use of classical sources and metaphors?
Do the chapter titles help structure this story?
What is added to the plot by its setting in a contained and isolated space and with a constant set of characters?
What is added to the novel by the fact that the prominent characters such as Bathsheba, Mr. Boldwood, and Gabriel, frequently pour out intimate details of their lives to one another? (intensifies emotion--prevents characters from becoming less obsessed with one another)
Does this practice suggest any other novels in a rural setting which you have read? (Wuthering Heights, Adam Bede)
What roles are played by the same-sex pairings/friendships with Liddy and Coggan? How does Liddy's role contrast with that of Gabriel's friend? (Liddy is a source of gossip and outside information, listens to confidances; Coggan offers quiet understanding)
Do the melodramatic features of the novel undercut or reinforce its effectiveness?
Do Hardy’s characters develop during the story? If so, which ones?
How are Hardy's descriptions of rural phenomena used to intensify the novel's emotions?
Does it matter that the setting is so fertile and suggestive of long-practised patterns? (sheep-washing, haying, fending off fires, opposing storms, etc.)
What features of setting and imagery intensify the novel's erotic themes?
Far from the Madding Crowd was published fifteen years after Darwin's Origin of Species. Are there elements in the novel which suggest a Darwinian sense of nature and time?