Sunday, 25 October 2015

Far from the Madding Crowd watch-along: part 3

Here we are, at the third and final part of Far from the Madding Crowd and this watch-along. I sure enjoyed rewatching and thinking about this adaptation.

Last week, we left Bathseba and Troy very married and very much in love and Boldwood in misery. Bathseba and Troy throw a belated wedding party for the farm employees and here Troy shows a bit of his not-so-charming side. He speaks crudely and basically gets Bathseba's employees drunk. Meanwhile, outside a storm is raging and Gabriel single-handedly tries to rescue the hay-ricks. Single-handedly, that is, until Bathseba comes out to help him. And spills her guts about why she married Troy: because he told her he saw a woman more beautiful than her ('between jealousy and distraction', I do love Hardy's way with words)

The first cracks are showing

Soon after, all trace of romance and even civility between Batseba and Troy seems to have dissapeared as they bicker about the money Troy drains from Bathseba's accounts for gambling. But the 20 pounds he asked for where not for gambling, but to help Fanny, who appeared again in Weatherbury, poor and sick. Then, the inevitable Hardy-esque tragedy happens: Fanny dies, Bathseba, somehow guessing Troy's involvement with her, opens Fanny's casket and finds her there with a baby boy. When Troy sees this, he confesses his love for Fanny and how he hates Bathseba for 'distracting' him.

The face every Hardy heroine gets to wear eventually

Troy has dissapeared from the farm and soon after, Bathseba gets the news that he has drowned. Then, we get a big time-jump (I do hate those) and a year has passed. Bathseba is picking up her life, Gabriel's faithfulness and hard work has borne fruit as he is now bailiff of both Bathseba's and Boldwood's farm and Boldwood himself is sniffing around to see if Bathseba is already thinking of marriage again. To him ofcourse. He accompanies her to a fair where a thrilling act is performed. One of the actors looks very familiar however....

Not so dead after all

It's Troy! He recognizes Bathseba, but she doesn't see him. Luckily, as she has problems enough with Boldwood running after her and throwing her a lavish Christmas party because he believes she will finally consent to marry him. Bathseba is exasperated and asks Gabriel for his advice. But his patience seems to have worn out at last and he bascially tells her to 'get on with it already'. And at the Christmas party, it seems Bathseba really has no choice, as Boldwood practically shoves a ring on her finger.

This is NOT how to ask someone to marry you

And in that moment, Troy enters the house and starts dragging Bathseba away. A shot rings out, Troy drops to the floor. Boldwood has shot him. Bathseba breaks down and the only one with his wits about him is once again Gabriel. He manages to prevent Boldwood from getting the death penalty by proving his madness: he had a closet full of presents for when Bathseba would be his wife (creepy much!).

Bathseba seems to be broken by circumstances and pretty much withdraws from social life and leaves running the farm to Gabriel. A few months later she is shocked to hear he is thinking of moving to America! She realizes she doesn't want to be without him and gives him an opportunity to ask her to marry him. And this time, she says yes.

Happy ending right? The good men gets what he deserves, yes, but I couldn't help wondering: does Bathseba really love him or is she making do? Discussions are apparently raging about this on the internet, but I couldn't find a satisfying ending. I reread the last two chapters of the book and must say: Hardy does keep this point vague. He speaks about what good friends Bathseba and Gabriel had become and how such a fundament beneath a marriage is stronger than many contracted in passion, but no words are spoken about love. I personally choose to believe that Bathseba loves him and grows to love him more and more in their marriage. After all, who could not love such a great man as Gabriel Oak?

Happy ending in my opinion!

Quote of the week:
Gabriel: ‘Bathseba, If I only knew one thing, if I only knew whether you would allow me to love you and to win you, to marry you, if I only knew that.’
Bathseba: ‘You will never know’
Gabriel: ‘Why?’
Bathseba: ‘Because you never ask! Why Gabriel, it seems exactly as if I’ve come courting you. Dreadful!’
Gabriel: ‘Quite right too. I danced at your heels long enough’

Discussion question(s):
Do you think Troy really did love Fanny or was he overcome by emotions?
- What is your opinion about the ending?

1 comment:

  1. Well, if they hadn't gotten together in the ending, I would have been utterly exasperated and probably never read anything by Thomas Hardy ever because how horrid that would be! As it is, I'm trying to decide if Gabriel is wonderful enough to make me want to watch this again (okay, yeah, he pretty much is). I think that Bathsheba may grow to love him, though possibly never as much as he loves her, but I think she can be happy and content with him, which is so very important. Gooey romantic feelings come and go, as she has learned, but honor and friendship and respect can lead to a much deeper kind of love than the fluttery-tummy kind.

    But to be honest, I really don't care if she's happy -- I just care that Gabriel is happy. And she had better keep him happy, that's all I can say.

    Oh, and as for your other question, I think Frank thought he loved Fanny, but I doubt he really understood what love could or should be, and just was very angry at himself right then for screwing up everyone's lives by his own selfishness, which he wouldn't admit to himself, so he lashed out to hurt Bathsheba any way he could as a way of relieving his emotional distress.

    Thanks for hosting this watch-along! You've introduced me to yet another classic I would otherwise not have encountered. I don't love it like I did Middlemarch, but I do think I'll try to see this version again, and possibly another one too. Maybe even read the book at some point. Maybe.