Far from the Madding Crowd By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Chapter 57

Summary

"'The most private, secret, plainest wedding that it is possible to have.' Those had been Bathsheba's words to Oak one evening, some time after the events of the preceding chapter, and he meditated a full hour by the clock upon bow to carry out her wishes to the letter."

There was the matter of the license. Oak met Coggan in town and admitted his plans but swore his friend to secrecy. Coggan delivered a message to the parish clerk, Laban Tall, telling him to meet the mistress next morning and to be wearing his best clothes. He told the clerk's curious wife, "Mind, het or wet, blow or snow, he must come. . . . 'Tis very particular indeed. The fact is, 'tis to witness her sign some law-work about taking shares wi' another fanner for a long span o' years. There, that's what 'tis, and now I've told 'ee, Mother Tall, in a way I shouldn't ha' done if I hadn't loved 'ee so hopelessly well." The next call at the vicar's excited no curiosity.

Bathsheba awakened before Liddy's call. As Liddy was brushing her mistress' hair, Bathsheba told the inquisitive girl that Oak was coming to dinner. Liddy guessed the purport and was excited.

Oak arrived with an umbrella, and, a short time later, swathed head to foot in greatcoats, he and Bathsheba, each under an umbrella, walked into town, like sensible people who were on a brief errand. In the church were Tall, Liddy, and the parson.

After the wedding, there was tea at Bathsheba's. Oak had decided to move in, since he did not as yet have appropriate furnishings in his house. "Just as Bathsheba was pouring out a cup of tea, their ears were greeted by the firing of a cannon, followed by what seemed like a tremendous blowing of trumpets in the front of the house. . . . Oak took up the light and went into the porch, followed by Bathsheba with a shawl over her head." A group of male figures set up a loud hurrah; there was another cannon shot, followed by a "hideous clang of music" from assorted ancient and venerable instruments. Oak said a warm, "Come in, souls, and have something to eat and drink wi' me and my wife." "Not to-night," was the unselfish reply. The men suggested that drinks be sent to Warren's, instead. Oak gladly accepted the suggestion.

Commenting on the ease with which Oak said "my wife," the friends withdrew, Oak laughing and Bathsheba smiling. As they moved away, Poorgrass had the last word: "And I wish him joy o' her. . . . since I 'tis as 'tis, why, it might have been worse, and I feel my thanks accordingly."

Analysis

The simple close is both appropriate and artistic. We feel that this time things will be all right. Oak's manner contrasts with Troy's after his marriage, when he was so condescending toward the hired help. Though Oak and Bathsheba are the focal point, the scene is mellowed and subdued. There is a voluntary outgoing of affection toward the couple and a friendly understanding of the roles they all will play.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

After Troy and Bathsheba marry, what becomes of Fanny?




Quiz