Far from the Madding Crowd By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Chapter 43

Summary

Bathsheba questioned Liddy again about Fanny. Liddy didn't know any more, but said that Maryann had heard tales. Bathsheba refused to believe what Liddy whispered to her, arguing that there was but one name on the coffin.

Feeling that she must draw strength from another to see her through what lay ahead, Bathsheba went to Oak's cottage. Through the window she watched him close the book he had been reading and realized that he was about to retire. Unable to bring herself to ask him about the matter that troubled her, Bathsheba returned home. Standing near the coffin, she sobbed, "I hope, hope it is not true that there are two of you!" Finally she fetched a screwdriver and opened the coffin. "It was best to know the worst, and I know it now!" The tears came, "tears of a complicated origin." Unable to refrain from hating Fanny, Bathsheba knelt beside the coffin and prayed. When she arose, she was calmer.

The slamming door of the coach-house announced Troy's arrival. He asked what had happened, but Bathsheba would not tell him. The two approached the coffin. A candle illuminated the bodies. Overcome, Troy sank to his knees, then kissed Fanny's face. Bathsheba cried out to him. He pushed her away and told her, "This woman is more to me, dead as she is, than ever you were, or are, or can be." Turning to Fanny, he said, "In the sight of Heaven you are my very, very wife!"

Bathsheba turned and ran from the house.

Analysis

Intuitively, Bathsheba knew the truth and, impelled by guilt feelings caused by the initial surge of hatred and jealousy that she had felt, she showed her pity toward mother and child by placing flowers around their bodies. Troy's emotion and remorse reinforce her realization that her marriage is over.

The title that Hardy gave to this chapter, "Fanny's Revenge," suggests something of the Greek tragedies, as does the dramatic revelation of truth that the chapter contains. But it is not Fanny who is vengeful — it is fate.

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After Troy and Bathsheba marry, what becomes of Fanny?




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