Book Shelf THE STACKS

Threepence

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On Today’s Menu:
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** Share some birthday cake
for a 19th century English novelist.
** Linger to ponder some new ideas for archetypes of our heroine’s 3 suitors.
** Savor a last ½ cup posing these same archetypes for the beaux of other fictional women.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

STT-65

First Sip:

Threepence had a definite value as money—
it was an appreciable infringement on a day’s wages,
and, as such, a higgling matter;
But twopence—

“Here,” he said, stepping forward and
handing twopence to the gatekeeper;
“Let the young woman pass.”

from Far from the Madding Crowd
by
Thomas Hardy1

The Wheat Field
by John Constable
Suffolk County, England, 1816
The Clark Art Institute

.


Slice of Cake:

Fans of Thomas Hardy
often describe Far from the Madding Crowd 2
as his “lightest and brightest” novel.

Side note:
This is also something fans of Jane Austen
say about Pride and Prejudice.

I would agree.
Although it has its share of tragedy and poignancy,
Far from the Madding Crowd is often funny and quite romantic.

Within the first couple pages
we meet our main character, Bathsheba Everdene—
a name she herself says ‘sounds odd and disagreeable.’ 3

But before we get to hear Bathsheba, we see Bathsheba—
and it’s through the eyes of a local shepherd.
His first impression of her is not entirely favorable,
but it’s not entirely reliable, either!

Bathsheba is right when (a little later) she tells
this shepherd that he has far too many opinions about people.

“Mercy!—
how many opinions you keep about you
concerning other people.”

– Bathsheba
in chapter 3

As for the plot, it really zings along:
There’s fire and torrential rain.
There’s a secret pregnancy, several drunken parties,
and a coffin that’s crow-barred open in the dead of night.
There’s both an elopement and a groom who’s stood up at the altar.
There’s mental illness, grief, and despair.
There’s an out-of-control sheep dog.
There are fortunes won and livelihoods lost—
and it all wraps up with a happy ending!

At its heart,
Far from the Madding Crowd is about a woman,
her farm, and her three suitors.

Bathsheba Everdene is strong, honest and capable,
and Hardy shows her in plenty of moments of both strength and weakness.

The unpracticed girl…had developed
into the supervising and cool woman.
…But some women only require an emergency
to make them fit for one.

– from chapter 7

Yet she’s also quite young, and shockingly isolated.

She has no family around—
and her two most faithful friends are both her employees.

She is fiercely independent—
and yet she’s frequently blown about by her emotions.

“I was coming away, when he suddenly said
he had seen that day a woman more beautiful than I…
And then… jealousy… distraction…”

– Bathsheba about Troy
in chapter 37

Over and over, we watch her successfully stand her ground.
Yet, over and over, we also see her cave to societal pressures—
or the manipulations of the men around her.

“It is difficult for a woman to
define her feelings in language which is
chiefly made by men to express theirs.”

– Bathsheba
in chapter 21

“I don’t see why a maid should take a husband
when she’s bold enough to fight her own battles,
and don’t want a home.”

– Henery about Bathsheba
in chapter 22

In other words, Bathsheba Everdene is a wonderfully complex
and relatable character.

Side note:
As to how such a strong female lead character
came out of the pen of a 19th century male author,
perhaps one clue is the mother who raised him.
Jemima Hand worked as a domestic servant before marriage
and she’s described as “determined,
ambitious and unusually well-read.”
4

When the novel was first published,
Hardy got plenty of pushback—and mostly
because of his main character’s “unwomanliness”.

Her character is selfishness…
We feel no pity for her…
She is hard and mercenary…
She is a character not to be admired
.

– a description of Bathsheba Everdene
in an anonymous book review from 1875 5

.

Inconsequential, willful and meddlesome…
unable to be understood or liked.


– a description of Bathsheba Everdene
by author Henry James

Hardy made changes for a second edition in 1895,
and then more changes for a third edition that came out in 1901.6

“I hope I am not a bold sort of maid—mannish?”
she continued with some anxiety.
“O no, not mannish; but so almighty womanish
that ‘tis getting on that way sometimes…
I wish I had half your failing that way.”

– Bathsheba & Liddy
in chapter 30

For anyone wanting to read
more classics in general—
or more Thomas Hardy in particular—
this novel is an excellent pick.7

Far from the Madding Crowd is
like a gateway drug to good & readable, mid-length, 19th century novels.

Happy 181st Birthday
** Thomas Hardy
**

– born June 2, 1840
in Dorset, England

.


Linger Awhile:

I’ve been thinking this week about archetypes.

Warning:
The following contains massive spoilers
about the novel Far From the Madding Crowd

by Thomas Hardy.

As I said earlier, Bathsheba is a notably strong, complicated woman.

Also notable: The three men
wanting to marry her.
Each is well-rounded, complex, often very sympathetic.

But here’s the real noteworthy bit:
Each of these three men represent three distinct categories—
I’d even say 3 prototypes—of male suitors.

Reviewing older literature, critics sometimes write about how
female characters get lumped in one of three types:
virgin (childlike), madonna (motherly), whore (self-reliant).

Of course, these categories had traditionally been decided by
how the women appear and appeal to men.
But have you ever seen male characters similarly divvied up and labeled
for how they appear to women?
I sure hadn’t.

But now—with Thomas Hardy’s help—I’m going to take a stab at it.

First up,
what do we call these 3 men?

… A Trinary of Admirers?
… A Trio of Woo-ers?
… Or a Threepence-Worth of Courters?


Let’s go with:


Bathsheba Everdene’s
*** Three Male-Suitor Archetypes
***

The Charismatic Cad:
sexy, a ‘bad boy’ type, exciting but risky,
sometimes a user

With Frank Troy, she feels conflicted,
a push-pull, attracted despite her better judgement.

The Delusional Devotee:
very eligible but not personally appealing, guilt-inducing,
sometimes selfish and persistent

With William Boldwood, she feels obligated & guilt-ridden.

The Patient Protector:
devoted, co-equal, boy-next-door-ish, supportive,
sometimes patronizing

With Gabriel Oak, she feels comfortable & trusting.


Here is a little more about each of these 3 men
how they interact with Bathsheba throughout the novel,
and why I think each fits into one of these 3 archetypes…


====== ABOUT FRANK TROY =======

We have got hitched together somehow.
– Troy to Bathsheba
in chapter 24

Bathsheba responds to Sergeant Troy with a feeling of inner conflict.
Being with him feels exciting, but reckless.
She worries about risking both her reputation as a woman and
her standing as a boss by being seen with him.

When Troy and Bathsheba first meet, they literally run into each other.
It’s a narrow footpath. It’s so dark they do not see each other coming;
they can barely see each other when they meet.
His boot spurs become tangled in the hem of her gown.

You are a prisoner, miss;
it is no use blinking the matter.

– Troy to Bathsheba
in chapter 24

The two strangers are plainly and immediately entangled.
Bathsheba lights her lantern, and what she sees surprises her.

The man to whom she was hooked was
brilliant in brass and scarlet…
What the lantern lighted…had upon her
the effect of a fairy transformation.

– from chapter 24

She is flustered:
“You have been making it worse on purpose
to keep me here!


He is flirtatious:
“I’ve never seen a woman so beautiful as you.
Take it or leave it—be offended
or like it. I don’t care.


When they finally disentangle themselves,
Bathsheba heads back home, where she asks Liddy about Sergeant Troy.

O! miss—I blush to name it—a gay man.
But I know him to be very quick and trim.
– Liddy about Troy
in chapter 24

Liddy tells her:
“He’s a doctor’s son by name…and he’s an earl’s son by nature.”
She says that he’s been well-educated and “learnt all languages.”

And so Bathsheba is conflicted.

She could not clearly decide
whether it was her opinion
that he had insulted her or not.

– from chapter 24

After more meetings,
Troy finds Bathsheba’s beauty “distracting.”
Bathsheba rejects Troy as “unsuitable.”

And each meeting with Troy begins with
Bathsheba believing she should not be seen with him.

“And my workfolk see me
following you about the field,
and are wondering.
…O, this is dreadful!”

– Bathsheba to Troy
in chapter 26

Yet her feelings of attraction outweigh her better judgement.
And she tries to justify him to herself:
“He is a sort of steady man in a wild way,” she says to Liddy.

She cannot stop thinking about him.

O, why did you come and disturb me so!
– Bathsheba to Troy
in chapter 26

And so, Bathsheba falls in love with Sargent Troy.

Unfortunately for her,
Troy has never really fallen out of love with someone else.

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…
She has never had practice in
making the best of such a condition.
Weakness is doubly weak by being new.

– from chapter 29


====== ABOUT WILLIAM BOLDWOOD =======

Bathsheba responds to Farmer Boldwood with a feeling of guilt.
Being with him feels like an obligation, not a pleasure.

At the beginning, Bathsheba believes William Boldwood’s
offer of marriage is generous.

The narrator disagrees.

Farmer Boldwood…did not exercise kindness here…
[It is] but a self-indulgence, and no generosity at all.

– from chapter 20

Bathsheba quickly realizes several things:

1) Boldwood is a great catch,
2) She’s not in love with him, and
3) She feels guilty. (This is because of a certain prank & its unforeseen consequences…)

Bathsheba,
not being the least in love with him,
was eventually able to look calmly at his offer.
It was one which many women…would have
been wild to accept.
…But a disquiet filled her…
She said in the same breath that it would be
ungenerous not to marry Boldwood, and

that she couldn’t do it to save her life.
– from chapter 20

Later, that feeling of guilt only intensifies.

“My treatment of you was thoughtless, inexcusable, wicked!
I shall eternally regret it.
If there had been anything I could have done to
make amends I would most gladly have done it…”

– Bathsheba to Boldwood
in chapter 51

Unfortunately, her guilt is a tool that he’s only too willing to use
to his own advantage.

Boldwood has an odd trick of seeming to offer her relief from her guilt,
only to immediately apply even more guilt.

“Don’t blame yourself,” he says,
right before asking her to “repair the old wrong by marrying me.”

When she begs him to stop asking her: “Let us drop it for the present, please do!
He, again, seems to offer relief: “Of course, I’ll drop the subject if you wish.”
But then ratchets up the pressure to “set all things right and make me happy.”

He also tells her that if (and only if?) she does what he wants, then she will be blameless.

“If you choose from a feeling of pity,
and, as you say, a wish to make amends,
to make a bargain with me…
there is no fault to be found with you as a woman.”

– Boldwood to Bathsheba
in chapter 51

Boldwood himself is suffering from severe mental illness,
yet he attempts to gaslight Bathsheba into doubting her own sanity.


====== ABOUT GABRIEL OAK =======

Bathsheba responds to Shepherd Oak with a feeling of trust.
Being with him feels comfortable.

Oak is very protective of Bathsheba.

“What have you been saying about her?”
inquired Oak, sharply turning to the rest…

Gabriel, though one of the quietest and
most gentle men on earth,
rose to the occasion with martial promptness and vigour.

“That’s my fist…
The first man in the parish that I hear prophesying
bad of our mistress, why”
here the fist was raised and let fall, as Thor
might have done with his hammer…
“he’ll smell and taste that.”

– from chapter 15

And twice—or really three times—
we seem him working overtime to save Bathsheba’s farm.

Oak suddenly remembered
that eight months before this time he had been
fighting against fire in the same spot as desperately
as he was fighting against water now—
and for a futile love of the same woman.

– from chapter 38

Side note:
I’m sure this is how he truly remembered it,
but it’s not strictly true.
Oak came upon the fire and helped fight it
before he knew whose farm it was.

And yet, their relationship began
with her saving his life.

“I wonder if I should have died?
…I believe you saved my life, Miss—
I don’t know your name.”

– Oak to Bathsheba
in chapter 2

Bathsheba—having quite easily dismissed
his proposal of marriage when she was a poor dairymaid—
comes to rely on Gabriel once she becomes
mistress of a large and prosperous farm.

She knows she could count on Gabriel for his hard work,
his expertise, his honesty, his loyalty,
and his good judgement.

At this period the single opinion…she valued as
sounder than her own was Gabriel Oak’s…
Knowing he would reply truly, she asked the question,
painful as she must have known the subject would be…

She had absolutely no other sound judgement
within easy reach.

– from chapter 20

.


“Half Cup More”

Just for fun…
I thought I’d look at some other fictional women and their admirers
through the lens of these 3 Male-Suitor Archetypes:

The Charismatic Cad (CC)
(sexy, a ‘bad boy’ type, exciting but risky, can be a user)

The Delusional Devotee (DD)
(very eligible, not personally appealing, guilt-inducing, can be selfish, persistent)

The Patient Protector (PP)
(devoted, co-equal, boy-next-door-ish, supportive, can be patronizing)

Here’s where I placed these fictional gentlemen.
Be sure and let me know what you think.

In the novel Pride and Prejudice:
Mr Bingley, PP all the way.
Mr Wickham, clearly CC.
Mr Collins, classic DD for Lizzy; but PP for Charlotte Lucas.
Mr Darcy cycles through them all: CC (briefly!), reveals himself as
a DD (with his first proposal), then becomes a PP (helping her sister Lydia).

In the novel Little Women:
For Jo, Laurie was a PP who became a DD.
For Amy, Fred Vaughn was the DD, and Laurie was a CC who became PP.

Side note:
If you can’t imagine Laurie as a cad,
look up a late chapter called ‘Lazy Laurence.’
Movie adaptations tend to skip this bit…

Of “Mary’s men” in the tv show Downton Abbey:
Matthew Crawley, very PP.
Kemal Pamuk, very CC.
Sir Richard Carlisle was the DD she almost married.
Evelyn Napier, oh so classic DD, yet he kept it classy (good old Mr Napier!)
Lord Anthony Gillingham started as a very attractive PP (gave her tax advice!),
then turned DD (one week was enough—sorry, Tony!)
Charles Blake started as a mild CC, turned into PP (got muddy bringing water to pigs),
then edged toward DD before surrendering the field.
Henry Talbot is puzzling, but I think he’s the rare good-guy CC!

Let me know if you agree or disagree with my categories for these guys.

Or try sorting out other fictional suitors—
I found it really fun and fascinating to think about.

.


Take-Away Box

“Now mind,
you have a mistress instead of a master.
I don’t yet know my powers or my talents in farming;
but I shall do my best, and
if you serve me well, so shall I serve you.

“Don’t any unfair ones among you
(if there are any such, but I hope not)
suppose that because I’m a woman I don’t understand
the difference between bad goings-on and good.”


(All.) “No’m!”
(Liddy.) “Excellent well said.”


“I shall be up before you are awake;
I shall be afield before you are up; and
I shall have breakfasted before you are afield.
In short, I shall astonish you all.”

(All.) “Yes’m!”

“And so good-night.”
(All.) “Good-night, ma’am.”


– from Far from the Madding Crowd
by
Thomas Hardy

.


Thank you for reading!
Kelly J Hardesty

Thoughts? Questions?
Scroll down to the endand you can leave me a note!
Always so lovely to hear from you.
.

You Can Read More…

——————————
notes & footnotes

1.
threepence def:
1. three old pence
2. a paltry amoun
t

pence def:
the plural of penny

100 pence (100p) = one pound sterling (1 £)

thruppence def:
an informal spelling of threepence

2.
Let’s start right off
by my admitting that it wasn’t until
I was reading this novel for a second time
that I found out (and even then,
someone else had to point it out to me)

that the word isn’t maddening—
it’s madding.

maddening def:
infuriating or exasperating


madding def:
acting senslessly or frenzied


The words describe a similar feeling, but who’s feeling it is different.
A maddening crowd makes you frenzied.
A madding crowd is itself frenzied.

3.
If Bathsheba’s last name
sounds somewhat familiar…
it’s no coincidence.

Suzanne Collins,
author of The Hunger Games said:
“Katniss Everdeen
owes her last name to Bathsheba Everdene.
…The two are very different, but
both struggle with knowing their hearts.

“I sort of half read
Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’…in 10th grade,
and I just couldn’t get into it.
About seven years later I rediscovered Hardy,
and consumed four of his novels in a row.’’


– from an interview with Suzanne Collins,
author of The Hunger Games
by Tina Jordan
‘Suzanne Collins on the Books She Loves’
updated August 12, 2010
https://ew.com/article/2010/08/12/suzanne-collins-on-the-books-she-loves/

4.
An online book review of Far From the Madding Crowd
by Jason, a “stay-home Dad, book addict, armchair critic and home chef.”
https://weneedtotalkaboutbooks.com/2016/08/03/book-review-far-from-the-madding-crowd/

5.
An Anonymous Review of
Far from the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy
(1875)

This review appeared under the title
“Bellese Lettres & Contemporary Literature”
in The Westminster Review, No. 47 (1875): 265-267.
Transcribed & edited by
Philip V Allingam
contributing editor to
Victorian Web. org
http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/hardy/ffmcreview2.html

6.
from Oxford Reader’s Companion to Hardy
by Norman Page
Oxford University Press
(2000)

7.
Speaking of spoilers,
there are several movie adaptations
of Far From the Madding Crowd
including:
a 2-hour movie from 2015 with Carey Mulligan,
a 3-hour movie from 1967 with Julie Christie,
and one from 1915 with silent film star Florence Turner.

I find that if I’m having trouble getting through a book,
watching a good film adaptation gets me familiar enough
with the characters and storyline and that helps make the book easier to read.

(A movie with Vanessa Redgrave helped me
finally finish a Virginia Woolf novel, for instance.)

STT-65

sky-t-tray.us
© Kelly J Hardesty 2022

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