Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Joseph Schwartz


The orientation of most Hardy criticism is genetic, narrowly mimetic, and intrinsic only insofar as theories related to the first two need proof. Hardy's characters in critical estimates do not sound creation, but Hardy does. Most of the critics fail to see Hardy as a narrative manipulator, and a clever one. Interpretation of his fiction evolves from critics' insistence on certain absolutes within the novels and the author's thoughts the concept of a detached God, more or less connected to a rigorous determinism; a preoccupation with sex, usually connected to Hardy's first marriage; Darwinism, or extreme pessimism.

Far From the Madding Crowd escapes much critical theory, and hence these viewpoints. However, a study of the novel usually evokes a single frameworks the importance of the setting. In the most recent treatment of the novel Ralph w. v. Elliott stresses the importance of Wessex, maintaining that it exhibits the timelessness and changelessness of its rustic inhabitants who are close to the soil. He suggests that this oneness between man and his environment accounts for the rustic advantage, a seemingly ideal, happy existence unattainable by major novel characters. Elliott also stresses their collective function, to provide comic relief and comments on the superficial story action.