New Text Document - Dec 31, 2022

Posted on Dec 31, 2022

Modernism can be seen as two phases of literature-modernist literature(1900-1945) and 
contemporary literature (1945 to the present), also referred to as postmodern literature 
.Modernism marks a radical shift from the previous centuries in form and content, in the 
aesthetic and cultural sensibilities in art(painting), architecture, music, sculpture and literature.
The new world order that came into existence, questioned the Victorian world view of a stable, 
meaningful and fairly comprehensible world, based on reason and logic inherent in the scientific 
and Industrial revolutions of that period. The catch phrase of the modern period was ‘to make it 
new’. Modernism thus marks a distinct break with Victorian bourgeois morality( what Bernard 
Shaw caustically refers to as ‘middle class morality’), its optimism, its cultural robustness and in 
its place brought in a pessimistic picture of a culture in disarray. When cultural roots do not 
provide the strength needed to live a life of hope and cheer it results in cultural despair giving 
rise to moral relativism and moral apathy. Relativism is the new view of the 20thcentury, that 
says there is no absolute truth or value and everything is relative. The characters in modern and 
contemporary novels questioned the existence of God, the supremacy of the human reason, and 
the nature of reality.

Themes of the Novel
(1) Unrequited love: Gabriel’s love, Boldwood’s passion for Bathsheba, Bathsheba’s 
misplaced love for Troy and finally poor Fanny’s innocent love for Troy illustrate this 
theme. 
(2) Concept of class structure- Bathsheba’s earlier rejection of Gabriel Oak, Farmer 
Boldwood’s consciousness of his superiority, Troy’s supercilious attitude towards the 
rural folk and Bathsheba’s treatment of her farm workers and her maids are examples of 
this class structure.
(3) Catastrophe: Gabriel’s loss of his entire flock of sheep at the beginning of the novel 
changes his life, leading him to seek work in Bathsheba’s farm. Nature’s fury and the 
stormy nights bring Gabriel and Bathsheba together when she begins to appreciate his 
commitment and loyalty despite her rejection of his proposal to marry him.
(4) Fate: Fate, chance, and circumstance rule Hardy’s rural world. Fanny turns up at the 
wrong church to marry Sergeant Troy – if this marriage had taken place, one of 
Bathsheba’s options would have been removed and Fanny’s tragedy averted. So is the 
return of Troy at the nick of time when Bathsheba agrees to keep her promise to marry 
Boldwood after the official mourning period of widowhood is over. The result is the 
shooting of Troy by Boldwood and his imprisonment as a consequence. Destiny brings a 
happy ending to the story with Bathsheba’s acceptance of Gabriel and marriage to him.

Bathsheba, the orphaned daughter of a wealthy farm owner, is raised by her aunt in the 
countryside. She is the protagonist as the novel centers around her. The story progresses through 
her relationship with three suitors and her final choice reflects her personal growth from the 
impulsive and headstrong woman that she was at the beginning to a mature woman who can 
manage her emotions. She is pivotal to the story and her final choice of Gabriel Oak as her 
husband shows she is far from her mad obsessed lover, Farmer Boldwood and a pretentious, self 
absorbed husband, Sergeant Troy who deserts her soon after marriage. Bathsheba is by far the
best-drawn and strongest female character seen in Hardy’s work, despite her vacillations. Hardy 
shows her to be a strong and self-reliant woman and although she makes some poor choices, they 
do make sense. She is a realistic character whose statement made late in the novel helps to 
explain Tess, Eustacia and Sue the central female leads in Hardy’s later novels: ‘it is difficult for 
a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs

 

Gabriel, like Bathsheba, is different from all other characters in the novel. He is far from the 
madding crowd of Weatherbury, for he is originally from Norcombe Hill and he comes to 
Weatherbury in search of a job. He is an outsider to Weatherbury and learns about the people of 
that place and their way of living after he gets a job under Bathsheba to manage her farm and 
settles down there. While the Weatherbury folks are given to gossip and are skeptical about a 
woman deciding to manage her own farm, Gabriel Oak, a shepherd who was reasonably well off 
in his native place till tragedy struck him with the loss of his two hundred sheep, suffers from no 
false pride and accepts a job under a woman. He does not gossip about anyone. He is humble and 
gentle and accepts Bathsheba’s instant rejection of his marriage proposal in his stride. His 
humility, unboastful character and selflessness are in marked contrast to the vain, boastful, self-
centric Sergeant Troy who marries Bathsheba and leaves her. He is also a simple rustic shepherd
from an obscure village and thus is a contrast to the country-bred, complex and wealthy 
gentleman Farmer Boldwood, who falls a victim to his own passion that was initially kindled by 
Bathsheba’s prankish message to him to marry her. Thus Gabriel Oak is far removed from both 
the suitors of Bathsheba - Sergeant Troy and Boldwood. Gabriel Oak stands out in the midst of 
the Weatherbury crowd, and proves to be a likeable loner, far from the madding crowd.

Sergeant Troy is a handsome, dashing young soldier, charming to women and a pleasure seeker. He is not one of the Weatherbury types; he feels superior to the countryfolks in Weatherbury andhis conquest of Bathsheba provokes awe and admiration in the innocent rural farmhands. He is in their eyes a hero who could tame Bathsheba, the spirited young woman of the place. He is not 

like Gabriel Oak who is self- effacing and withdrawing by nature. He is unlike Farmer Boldwood 
who is a strict no-nonsense type and who adheres to Christian morals. Boldwood has a 
congenital hatred for Sergeant Troy who with his pretentious charm, woos and wins Bathsheba. 
If Gabriel Oak, who ultimately proves successful, is the hero, Sergeant Troy is the antagonist of 
the novel. He should not be seen as totally evil for he has shades of good qualities. He keeps to 
his promise he made to Fanny Robin that he will marry her by waiting in the church for her to 
turn up. Unfortunately it is destiny that mars their marriage as Fanny reaches another church and 
thus fails to arrive at the right place. He feels a deep sense of remorse, when Fanny dies along 
with his unborn baby