Victorians! discussion

Archived Group Reads 2016 > FFTMC - Week 4

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Rose (new)

Rose Rocha dos Santos (roserocha) | 33 comments Hi, everyone!

This week's reading is about: Chapter 29 (Particulars of a Twilight Walk) - Chapter 38 (Rain: one solitary meets another).

From the Chapter 29:

We now see the element of folly distinctly mingling with the many varying particulars which made up the character of Bathsheba Everdene. It was almost foreign to her intrinsic nature. It was introduced as lymph on the dart of Eros, and eventually permeated and coloured her whole constitution. Bathsheba, though she had too much understanding to be entirely governed by her womanliness had too much womanliness to use her understanding to the best advantage. Perhaps in no minor point does woman astonish her helpmate more than in the strange power she possesses of believing cajoleries that she knows all the time to be false – except indeed in that of being utterly sceptical on strictures that she knows all the time to be true. Bathsheba loved Troy in the way that only self-reliant women love when they abandon their self-reliance. When a strong woman recklessly throws away her strength she is worse than a weak woman who has never had any strength to throw away. One source of her inadequacy is the novelty of the occasion. She has never had practice in making the best of such a condition. Weakness is doubly weak by being new.

Hardy had an eye for the subtlety of the human soul... In this quote he uses this great perception when he talks about Bathsheba's love for Troy.
Do you believe love is blind? Or if it is blind, it is just passion?

Please share all your favorite quotes, questions and thoughts here.

message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter Bathsheba does have wide swings of mood and temper which leads to outbursts of emotion at the expense of logic. Early in Ch. XXIX the interplay between Liddy and Barhsheba is both comical and very revealing. Liddy is first dismissed and then summoned back. Bathsheba is portrayed as displaying "unwonted vehemence" and her actions strike as being more of a flustered schoolgirl than a woman and manager of a sizeable estate and business.

We know that Bathsheba possesses both the presence of mind and the ability to act decisively as seen when she rescues Gabriel from certain death. We also know that Bathsheba is wise enough to realize that despite her feelings for Gabriel he is necessary to the effective running of the farm and yet Bathsheba does act and react to events that fling him about as well.

While love has made Bathsheba lose some of her logic, love is also portrayed as little more than a transaction of the flesh. Later in this section we have Boldwood bargaining with Troy to buy Troy's retreat into the arms of Fanny once again. When Troy comments that he has "two reasons for choosing Fanny. First, I like her best upon the whole, and second you [Boldwood] make it worth my while - " love is reduced to a cynical bargain. Troy and Boldwood continue their devilish bargain, change their minds and reveal to the reader that, with the exception of Gabriel, love has made everyone except Gabriel into an irrational and explosive character.

At the risk of over-working Gabriel's last name as defining his character, only Gabriel is as strong, consistent and deeply grounded as an oak.

message 3: by Lily (last edited Jun 06, 2016 07:50PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Peter wrote: "At the risk of over-working Gabriel's last name as defining his character, only Gabriel is as strong, consistent and deeply grounded as an oak. ..."

Gabriel is also an important angel's name in Biblical stories. Can't go figure out any possible second level of allusion Hardy is making -- tonight need to get some sleep so can work at the polls in the morn. (5:15 am)

message 4: by Frances (new)

Frances (francesab) | 296 comments Favourite lines? My book is criss-crossed with pencil markings!

And Troy's deformities lay deep down from a woman's vision, whilst his embellishments were upon the very surface; thus contrasting with with homely Oak, whose defects were patent to the blindest, and whose virtues were as metals in a mine.

On Bathsheba meeting with Boldwood after he had received her letter
...and his changed appearance sufficiently denoted to her the depth and strength of the feelings paralyzed by her letter...(and later) To one who knew the man and his story there was something more striking in this immobility than in a collapse. The clash of discord between mood and matter here was forced painfully home to the heart; and, as in laughter there are more dreadful phases than in tears, so was there in the steadiness of this agonized man an expression deeper than a cry.

On the subject of Bathsheba's apparent heartlessness:

With almost a morbid dread of being thought a gushing girl, this guideless woman too well concealed from the world under a manner of carelessness the warm depths of her strong emotion.

I found Chapters 29-38 heartbreaking for pretty much everyone. You can tell that Bathsheba will not find happiness with Troy, it is unclear if Boldwood will ever recover from his broken heart, and Gabriel appears willing to continue to support Bathsheba (and therefore to bail out Troy for his errors) even knowing that he is sneered at by Troy and broken-hearted over the loss of his love to such an unworthy man. I can't even say, if Bathsheba were to find herself free again, which of her two remaining suitors I would want her to settle on next (assuming her heart healed enough for her to consider remarrying).

One interesting finding for me with Hardy's writing-it has been a long time since I've had to haul out a dictionary when reading a novel, but so far I've come across 3(!) new words to me: Tergiversation, Punctilios and Amaranthine.

I was delighted to discover Hardy's beautiful writing and characterizations, his descriptions of the beauty and, in this section, the power of nature, his settings among the less educated, less worldly country folk and his clear admiration and respect for them as individuals and of their society and way of life. I was enchanted by Under the Greenwood Tree, enjoyed A Pair of Blue Eyes and have loved the writing of this book so far, but if each successive book going forward is simply more tragic and bleak, I'm not sure I can take any more Hardy. Do any of his other books have anything approaching a happy ending?

message 5: by Peter (new)

Peter Frances wrote: "Favourite lines? My book is criss-crossed with pencil markings!

And Troy's deformities lay deep down from a woman's vision, whilst his embellishments were upon the very surface; thus contrasting ..."

Hi Frances

Under the Greenwood Tree is, in my opinion, as happy and uplifting a Hardy novel as you will find. He is a powerful and brooding novelist. While I do enjoy his work, I'm unable to read two in a row.

message 6: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 923 comments Peter wrote: "Frances wrote: "Favourite lines? My book is criss-crossed with pencil markings!

And Troy's deformities lay deep down from a woman's vision, whilst his embellishments were upon the very surface; t..."

Two on a tower is similar to greenwood tree

message 7: by Frances (new)

Frances (francesab) | 296 comments Thanks Deborah, I might try that as my next Hardy.

message 8: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 131 comments Troy is a master manipulator. I find my self angry at Bathsheba for being so foolish and not seeing through him, but I have to admit that he really knows how to work people. He keeps her reacting to him, not giving her a chance to think, and she was also off balance because of Boldwood having an enraged breakdown. I also wonder why no one reminded Batsheba about the woman Troy was already engaged to. Both Gabriel and Boldwood know about her, but they leave Bathsheba to be snared by Troy.

Gabriel and Bathsheba working together to save the grain from the storm was such a significant reminder about what a partnership their marriage would have been. I'm reminded of that passage from the previous section, that men marry because they cannot have possession without the marriage and women marry because they can't have marriage without possession. Bathsheba has married like a man here. She wanted Troy but could not have him without marriage. Unfortunately that does not just give her a spouse who will be a drain on her resources, it gives her a spouse who has the legal right to run things.

On the other hand, Bathsheba has two men pining for her, at least one of whom is loyal to a fault. Troy she wasn't sure of, so he was more interesting. It's like with Boldwood, her fascination with him only extended to his lack of interest in her. Some people are like that. But I can't help feeling that if Hardy lived today he would have been writing about the "friend zone" and how women don't want Nice Guys, only men who treat them badly.

Looking at Gabriel's interaction with Bathsheba throughout the book, I just can't get Buttercup and the unnamed farm boy out of my head. If only Gabriel had stopped with the "as you wish" behaviour and had gone off for a while, returning as the dread pirate Roberts, things would have all worked out!

back to top