Far from the Madding Crowd By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Chapter 26

Summary

Troy's first remark was an apology to Bathsheba for his brashness in their first encounter. He had inquired about her identity, he said, and should have known her to be the "Queen of the Corn-Market," as someone had characterized her. He explained his presence now by saying he had always helped in the fields in her uncle's day.

"I suppose I must thank you for that, Sergeant Troy," said Bathsheba indifferently. At Troy's hurt look, she explained that she did not wish to be obligated to him for anything. Undaunted, Troy continued his extravagant praises of Bathsheba's beauty until she admitted her confusion, seeing no basis for his flattery and at first denying that she merited it. But then she began to weaken. "Capitulation — that was the purport of [her] simple reply, guarded as it was — capitulation, unknown to herself. Never did a fragile tailless sentence convey a more perfect meaning. The careless sergeant smiled within himself, and probably too the devil smiled from a loop-hole in Tophet, for the moment was the turning-point of a career. Her tone and mien signified beyond mistake that the seed which was to lift the foundation had taken root in the chink: the remainder was a mere question of time and natural changes."

Sergeant Troy regretted that he could stay only a month, insisting that he had loved Bathsheba the instant he saw her. Disclaiming the possibility of such sudden feeling, she asked the time. Since she had no watch, Troy impulsively sought to bestow his own upon her. It bore the crest and motto of the earls of Severn and had been left to Troy by his natural father. Bewilderment and agitation lent Bathsheba's features an animation and beauty, which moved Troy to see the truth in phrases he had used in jest. Suddenly he blurted out: "I did not mean you to accept it at first, for it was my one poor patent of nobility . . . but . . . I wish you would now."

Bathsheba again refused the watch, but Troy did exact her promise that he might continue to work in her fields. In complete consternation, "she retreated homeward, murmuring, 'O, what have I done! What does it mean! I wish I knew how much of it was true!'"

Analysis

This is an excellent study of the glib and suave soldier, proud of his presence, his uniform, and the adventurous elements in his background. Though Troy begins his pursuit of Bathsheba lightheartedly, she is completely taken in by him, revealing herself to be rather gullible and guileless in her confused responses. No doubt her own vanity helps to convince her that he is sincere. Troy, however, seems to have fallen into his own trap, now meaning in earnest what he had said in jest.

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After Troy and Bathsheba marry, what becomes of Fanny?




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