Thomas Hardy’s Notion of Impurity in Far from the Madding Crowd: The Tragic Failure of a Ruined Maid or The Blessed Life of a Fallen Lady

Nafiseh Salman Saleh, Pyeaam Abbasi


As a prolific nineteenth century novelist, Thomas Hardy witnessed how women were treated as well as the dreadful conditions in which they lived. Well aware of the nineteenth century limitations on femininity, Hardy stood for women’s downtrodden rights. Henceforth, so as to examine Hardy’s personal thoughts and impressions towards the prevailing perceptions of the nineteenth century femininity, Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd (1847) has been explored with focus upon the Victorian femininity in contrast with Hardy’s fictional heroines. Far From the Madding Crowd, as a typical example of his fiction, is representative of Hardy’s vision towards the Victorian ideal of femininity particularly the notion of impurity. This paper is an attempt to re-read Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd to explore the discrepancy between Hardy’s notions of impurity in accordance with the Victorian ideal perceptions of femininity to the Victorians extreme rigidity to the idea of impurity. This paper also concludes that despite his genuine commiseration towards women, Hardy was in line with the Victorian conservative view of sex where his fallen heroine –Fanny— is doomed to ignominious failure in the course of her life while Bathsheba’s fall is redeemed through a conventional marriage trial.

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