Fate and Mockeries of Fate - Sample Essay
In Hardy’s novels, fate plays quite a major part. Throughout ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, he hints at Fanny’s misfortune and, ultimately her death. In one scene at the Malthouse, Joseph Poorgrass, Laban Tall and Billy Smallbury were discussing Fanny’s disappearance, and the conversation suddenly changed to the question of how had she died. They all speculate on how it had happened, Joseph Poorgrass said ’tis burned’, Laban Tall said ’tis drowned’ and Billy Smallbury said ’tis her father’s razor’.
Drowning indicates that her death was an accident, being burnt to death indicates either an accident or foul play, and finally, a razor could indicate that she had committed suicide. At this point in the story it wasn’t a particularly important bit of speech, but looking back on it, this is Hardy’s way of hinting at her death. He also hints at Bathsheba’s misfortune with the men in her life, but not as often as he hints at Fanny’s fate. In chapter forty, Hardy gives us many instances in which fate is hinted at, and that is only on the first few pages.
Chapter forty is a good chapter to look at because it is the chapter before Fanny actually dies. The first instance is in the second paragraph, which says ‘shutting out every speck of heaven’, it is a peculiar metaphor to describe the sky, and one that further adds to the suspicion of Fanny’s death. The other is in the next paragraph, where she herself says ‘I shall be in my grave before now’, and in the next chapter she does. ‘Afresh dead leaves’ is another example of doom and gloom, ‘not a sound of life’ another.
Over these few pages there is a very high concentration of these kind of phrases and words. They help to build up to something by hinting at the future, and so we can predict the events (fate). After Fanny dies and Troy buries her in the churchyard, if you excuse the pun, Hardy puts the final nail in the coffin. It was raining very heavily and the water collected up on the roof of the church, ran down the side, down the gurgoyle and straight onto Fanny’s grave. It completely destroyed her grave.
The flowers were damaged by the amount of rain pressing down on them and swept away by the stream of water flowing from the gurgoyle’s mouth, as was the mud. All that Troy had done for Fanny had been thrown back in his face, this probably the best example of a mockery of fate in the entire book. Allegories Hardy uses allegories in his novel to convey different social ideas. In ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, it works on two levels of understanding, if you are older and more worldly then you can see that Fanny is obviously pregnant, but if you are younger then you won’t understand this and your innocence is preserved.
Another is that when Joseph escorts Fanny’s coffin back to Weatherbury, nature becomes an allegory of the attitudes people have towards Fanny Robin, the fog becomes the barrier between Fanny and what is right, the gloom indicates the peoples’ feelings towards her and all the death and doom and gloom phrases like ‘the hollow echo’ and ‘strange clouds’ portray the emptiness that Fanny felt. Hardy uses such literary devices such as this because in the time that he wrote it, it was considered an outrage to be pregnant and not married.
Because of this, Hardy disguised this fact until he could no longer do so, and so to offend as fewer people as possible, we must take into account the fact that this novel was first printed as a serial in a family magazine called ‘Cornhill’. After I had read through the entire book, I re-read chapter forty, and on doing so I came to a few of my own conclusions. Namely that chapter forty was an allegory for Fanny dying.
The way she is getting further and further to Casterbridge, where she is safe and ‘there is light’ is reminiscent of heaven. Her dog is like an angel, her guide on the way there, but in the end of the chapter it was stoned away. I am not sure as to whether it was an allegory or not, it would make for an interesting debate. Pathetic Fallacies A pathetic fallacy is when nature or inanimate objects are credited with human emotions, which basically amplifies the mood of the scene.
In chapter forty-two, when Joseph Poorgrass is escorting Fanny’s coffin to Weatherbury, there are many examples of this. Such phrases portraying nature’s hostility to him and the coffin are ‘a startling quiet’, ‘unfathomable gloom’ and ‘dead silence’. This indicates the fact that even nature is against her. The wagon wheels signify Joseph’s nervousness. It is quite eerie, the adjectives he used indicate a kind of ghost-like presence, he does this by using words and phrases like: ‘no perceptible motion’, ‘loomed’, ‘unfathomable gloom’, etc.
This creates a very gloomy and tense atmosphere, not dissimilar to that of the atmosphere in chapter forty when Fanny is on Casterbridge highway, one of impending doom and isolation. The weather is used as a good descriptive device to display emotions and attitudes. ‘Strange clouds’, ‘fog’ and ‘scrolls of mist’ are used effectively in the same chapter to display the forthcoming events between Bathsheba and Troy concerning Fanny, the deceit and lies Troy had spun, which he could no longer deny or push away with the flick of his hand.
The phrases and words used create a very overcast effect of death. Twists, Turns, Cliffhangers and Subtle ends to Chapters In thinking about these factors in the story, we must remember once again that the story was published in segments in a magazine. Therefore, to keep egging the reader on, cliffhangers and other devices along the same lines are needed to keep the interest going. There must be a suitable end to each segment that is sufficient in action and suspense to make the reader come back for more.
Examples of this are when Fanny re-appears in chapter thirty-nine and Troy arranges a meeting, when Fanny inadvertently breaks up Bathsheba’s marriage with Troy and when Fanny’s grave is decimated. It is for this reason that some chapters are more action-packed than others; if there is a lot of action or a twist in the tale then this may have been the end of a segment. One of these twists is when Troy leaves Weatherbury to go out and work on the high seas. It is totally unexpected and an interesting way to finish Troy and Bathsheba’s marriage.
Hardy got our hopes up again when Fanny resurfaced in chapter thirty nine and met Troy, we were given the false hope that things might work out between Fanny and Troy, but a couple of chapters later she died. Another such twist is when Troy re-appears at the ‘Sheep Fair’, and later gets shot by Boldwood. I found these bits very interesting, and helped to keep my interest. I was quite intrigued to see what would happen to Troy and Bathsheba eventually, and also what would happen to Fanny in the end, although I didn’t have to be a genius to work out that she was going to die at some point in the novel.
An interesting twist was when Fanny was buried and you thought that all was done and dusted, but no Hardy was not finished with her yet, he had to destroy her grave before she could be left alone. Pathos Hardy writes his novels with a certain amount of pathos. Some of the things he writes will invoke you with sadness or pity, especially the ones involving poor old Fanny Robin (or Bathsheba in some of the later chapters). Fanny Robin has to be pitied. She is a poor homeless young girl, madly in love with a flirtatious soldier.
She is promised marriage, and she messes that up by going to the wrong church and on arriving at the right church, Troy decides he has had enough and leaves. She is pregnant without a husband, which was seen as a terrible thing at the time, and, after losing Troy, she gets him back only to die, child and all. A truly sad and pitiful story, her youth and innocence were the death of her. The saddest thing of all was the fact that nobody paid for her to have a bell toll or even for a grave for her.
This is very sad, even in death she is truly alone, and if you notice, in chapter forty-five, even Fanny’s grave was on its own (a pathetic fallacy), and to a certain extent, hidden from the view of the public, just like her pregnancy. Fanny’s life, from the small part of it we saw, was riddled with sadness, deception and broken promises. She didn’t even find happiness in her grave for more than a day before nature wreaked havoc upon it. I couldn’t work out whether Hardy wanted the reader to pity Fanny or just look on her as a young woman who was led astray. He gives statements that support both sides of the argument.