Victorians! discussion

Archived Group Reads 2016 > FFTMC - Week 6

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Rose (last edited Jun 19, 2016 02:26PM) (new)

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

This week's reading is about: Chapter 49 (Oak's advancement: a great hope) - Chapter 57 (A foggy night and morning: conclusion).

So, this is the final week and here you can post anything about these chapters or about the whole book, if you want (conclusions and the link to your reviews too).

It was awesome to discuss the book with all of you! I certainly learned a lot!

message 2: by Frances (new)

Frances (francesab) | 296 comments This was one of those books that I absolutely loved and felt somewhat bereft when it finished-I'm new to Hardy and can't believe that I didn't discover him earlier. I will definitely be voting for other Hardy's in the future.

Boldwood's development and the final revelations of his behaviour-his obsession with Bathsheba and his essentially stalking her-was quite Psychologically accurate, I think. I had had a lot of sympathy for him until he this section, when his attentions and his insistence on her promising to marry him in 6 years became quite frightening, and Bathsheba clearly felt intimidated and guilty about having driven him to this sort of madness by her early thoughtless behaviour, when of course he must have been somewhat unstable to begin with, and her one foolish action set in motion a train of mental instability which ultimately ruined him. How easy it is to blame the woman for "driving him to madness".

Gabriel, on the other hand, consciously or unconsciously played his hand superbly. I think he was only avoiding Bathsheba and planning to leave to protect himself from his love for her, but it had the wonderful effect of showing Bathsheba how much she cared for him and relied on him. Hardy sums up beautifully

Theirs was that substantial affection which arises (if any arises at all) when the two who are thrown together begin first by knowing the rougher sides of each other's character, and not the best till further on, the romance growing up in the interstices of a mass of hard prosaic reality. This good fellowship-camaraderie-usually occurring through similarity of pursuits, is unfortunately seldom superadded to love between the sexes, because men and women associate, not in their labours, but in their pleasures merely. Where, however, happy circumstance permits its development, the compounded feeling proves itself to be the only love which is strong as death-that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown, beside which the passion usually called by the name is evanescent as steam.

(Nice touch-the quote from Song of Solomon 8:7)

message 3: by Peter (last edited Jun 21, 2016 04:17PM) (new)

Peter Troy's return is interesting. We have puzzled as to his motivations, his true feelings towards Fanny and Bathsheba and his rather convenient escape from both Bathsheba's estate and, indeed, England, but here he is again. In order to draw out the suspense of his return Hardy re-introduces him as a member of a circus, and because he is in theatrical makeup he is not immediately recognized by his former wife or the majority of farmhands. Thus the motif of disguise - social, emotional and physical - has been continued by Hardy. Troy's deft move to secure the note from Pennyways to Bathsheba may be a bit far-fetched, but a similar technique of a note remaining undiscovered and thus unread is an essential part of Tess as well.

message 4: by Peter (new)

Peter Did anyone else find the ending too predictable? I envisioned the ending being one where Oak has become Bathsheba's equal due to his land ownership. As equals, they recognize their mutual attraction, yet the dalliance has run its course. They both, in my mind, pursue their own paths towards the future. Equals, friends, mutually chastened, but not together. It is true that Oak has always cared deeply for Bathsheba, but by this time in the 19C the typical Victorian ending had already frayed.

message 5: by Frances (new)

Frances (francesab) | 296 comments I didn't, but perhaps I was simply steeling myself for a more Hardyesque ending of remorse and misery. Granted, to have had two lovers prepared to wait many years for a chance at the hand of the woman they loved seems a little farfetched (I had assumed Gabriel would give up and marry someone else and then Bathsheba would be free and regrets all around) but I liked the ending, and think it showed tremendous maturing on the part of Bathsheba over the course of the novel.

I was tempted to reread FFTMC immediately on finishing it, but had too many other reads to attend to-something to look forward to later!

message 6: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlottecph) | 271 comments I was surprised that the ending was so simple. I was waiting for a more passionate outburst. That was the same reaction I had at the ending of North and South. I guess I have to get used to the Victorians doing it this way!

It made sense that the book ended in a plain way, similar to the beginning of the book. In between the beginning and the end, Bathsehba has to go through a lot of wild stuff and failures, to finally come crawling back and enter Oak's hut as a tamed and experienced woman.

message 7: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 131 comments Having heard that Hardy didn't do happy endings, I wasn't expecting this outcome at all. I mean, it was obvious from the start that Bathsheba and Gabriel should get married, but I didn't think it would happen.

The scene where Boldwood uses emotional blackmail to get a crying Bathsheba to promise to marry him was hard to read. And since I had peeked at chapter headings and seen that there was a chapter called Bathsheba Boldwood, I assumed they would get married, Bathsheba pale and drawn and miserable all the way to the church. I figured they would get married, Troy would only then appear on the scene, cue full blown drama, mental breakdowns and suicides all around.

I'm glad I was wrong. The ending was lovely. Though it was perhaps a bit too convenient that the two "unsuitable" suitors got each other out of the way.

message 8: by Frances (new)

Frances (francesab) | 296 comments Leni wrote: "The scene where Boldwood uses emotional blackmail to get a crying Bathsheba to promise to marry him was hard to read. And since I had peeked at chapter headings and seen that there was a chapter called Bathsheba Boldwood, I assumed they would get married, Bathsheba pale and drawn and miserable all the way to the church. I figured they would get married.."

I agree, that was hard reading, and showed Hardy's understanding of how women are at times bullied and emotionally blackmailed in relationships. I had been partially rooting for Boldwood to win Bathsheba earlier and was shocked at the revelations of his psychological instability. Hardy also demonstrates this by the contrast with how Gabriel chooses to deal with his unrequited love-that is, remove himself from the torment of seeing Bathsheba with someone else and start anew-the actions of a mature and stable man.

This book is definitely on my TBRR (to be reread!) pile.

message 9: by Peter (last edited Jun 26, 2016 06:11PM) (new)

Peter Charlotte wrote: "I was surprised that the ending was so simple. I was waiting for a more passionate outburst. That was the same reaction I had at the ending of North and South. I guess I have to get used to the Vic..."


I liked your linking of the early and late Bathsheba-Gabriel meetings at Gabriel's home. These scenes do give us a symmetry. As you will recall this is a similar pattern to Gaskell's beginning and ending N&S in Harley Street London, where in the first chapter of the novel Margaret hears of her cousin's wedding and in the final chapter of the novel agrees to marry Thornton.

message 10: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 499 comments Charlotte, thanks for pointing out that Gabriel "tamed" Bathsheba. He did indeed, he along with the vicissitudes of life. She turned down his proposal saying she needed a man to tame her. So her idea of that man, Troy, came along. You get what you wish for. It's only fitting that Bathsheba, having come full circle so to speak, in the end goes back to Gabriel's door.

message 11: by Dee (last edited Jun 26, 2016 12:09PM) (new)

Dee | 129 comments The ending came on a bit suddenly, and left me with a few questions and a bit of a "wtf" feeling...

I can see how Bathsheba had to "mature" into a relationship with Gabriel, or into any kind of an adult relationship... She was previously too impulsive and childish at times, not to mention haughty, egotistical and proud. Those are not good qualities in a woman or a man, and we live and we grow up.

But... to what extent was the change in Bathsheba's character a part of "growing up," and to what extent was it just her becoming submissive like women were meant to be? In the last chapter it says she hardly ever laughs out loud anymore - how is that growing up, or is it just growing tired and old? Dejected, because there's been too much disappointment and tragedy in your life? Resigned?

The three men are all attracted in some way to Bathsheba's spunk, but at the end none of them really want a powerful and independent woman except possibly Troy? He was flat out disgusted when she became submissive in the course of their relationship. Boldwood only wanted to possess her like a child and care for her and buy her trinkets. And Gabriel, well I loved the guy but he also had to know that Bathsheba needed him and couldn't run the farm without him (like when he left after the sheep got sick, and then made her go after him personally to return.)

message 12: by Kerstin, Moderator (new)

Kerstin | 576 comments Mod
I must admit I've been dragging through this book. There is only so much of Bathsheba Everdene I could take. It was a mystery to me how anyone could have been attracted to her aside from her beauty. The ending was nice and clean, and Bathsheba worn down by life's bitter lessons had lost much of her youthful immaturity. She is still subdued when she marries Gabriel, the events of the past two years not quite overcome yet.

Still, I would have wished Gabriel would have taken off to California or married someone else. A great guy like him deserved a better wife. Bathsheba would have married someone else eventually, I don't think she would have stayed a life-long widow.

Boldwood surprised me in the end. I didn't see his unhinged character coming, though in hindsight looking at all his actions regarding Bathsheba it makes perfect sense. Even the silly valentine takes on a different connotation. A normal guy would have taken the "marry me" in stride, even think it a bit silly - as it was - coming from a young woman like her. Boldwood, however, takes it seriously and is somewhat obsessed with it. We as readers think him "normal" and don't recognize for a long time there is something not quite right in his head.

message 13: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 131 comments The penguin edition I have contains an essay in the back where it says that Henry James thought that Gabriel Oak was "much too good for her". That's how I felt throughout most of the book too. But in the end, I feel like Bathsheba has been through so much and for all her faults you have to admit that all the drama is caused by men! The book could have the subheading "How a woman's spirit can become crushed through the selfish emotions of men." Gabe would be like a healing balm to her, a steady support instead of the passions of the other two. As for him moving to California, that's just not possible. Farmer Oak is one with the land he grew up on. You can't uproot him. Marry someone else maybe, but the symmetry of the story is better with him marrying Bathsheba.

I agree with Dee that Bathsheba hasn't so much grown up as had her spirit knocked out of her by life. And I did find it odd that Gabe would just leave her without finding her a new bailiff! But as for making her come to him when the sheep were ill, I didn't find that unreasonable. He needed to make a stand there to show that she needed to treat him with a minimum of respect. It wasn't like he left after the sheep got sick in order to make her come crawling. She fired him, then discovered that she needed him after all. If he hadn't made that stand, I can easily see her doing the same again later.

message 14: by Kerstin, Moderator (last edited Jun 26, 2016 04:07PM) (new)

Kerstin | 576 comments Mod
Leni wrote: "As for him moving to California, that's just not possible. Farmer Oak is one with the land he grew up on. You can't uproot him."

He is a man of the land, definitely. And by marrying Bathsheba he has a second opportunity to own his own land.

I still think that immigration would have been a good choice for him had Bathsheba not intervened. Hardy wrote this in 1874, that's 12 years after the Homestead Act of 1862. For men like Gabriel, who for whatever reason had little chance of building their own legacy in the Old Country at the time, leaving for the New World was a very attractive option. It offered the opportunity to work for himself instead of being in service to others for the duration.

message 15: by Frances (new)

Frances (francesab) | 296 comments I don't see Bathsheba as having been "tamed"by Gabriel. I see her having lived through tragedy-both the desertion and emotional abuse of her husband culminating in his shocking reappearance and murder, and the emotional blackmail from Boldwood-which would change anyone, male or female. She enters mourning for a considerable time and comes out older and wiser-no normal human being could return to being a giddy girl after that.

Gabriel and Bathsheba had long ago established a working relationship, they share a love for the land and for the farm, and she had previously turned to him for counsel concerning her troubles. I think that her coming to love him comes from her increased knowledge of his character and his strength, and from their deepening friendship. I actually found it to be one of the more satisfying relationships I have seen blossom in literature-it wasn't simply based on looks or deeds or social position.

message 16: by Peter (new)

Peter I have just read the commentaries and opinions regarding the Gabriel- Barhsheba relationship and the possible reasons that brought Bathsheba to his door. Thank you all.

The insights and comments about Oak coming to America were also a revelation to me. I have never discussed (let alone even thought about) the possibility.

Wonderful discussion.

back to top