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Rather like a Shakespeare comedy it begins lightheartedly and ends with ...
on 25 April 2015
Rather like a Shakespeare comedy it begins lightheartedly and ends with a wedding and has a cast of rural buffoons. In between its end pieces though, this novel is tragic in its desperation and scope with a seriousness matched in Hardy's nature description, where the clouds, the fields, the sea and sun, and humankind's place in relation to them is almost transcendent in its detail. The main character proves to be Bethsheba Everdene rather then the shepherd Gabriel Oak as promised at the beginning, and their love and does win in the day, but only after the suffering of ordinary, if slightly foolish and feckless souls, who are overtaken by a kind of madness of passion, and in the end murder and death. Only Gabriel is inoculated against folly by an early tragedy of loss and disappointment. His slow steady stoicism, perhaps like Hardy's, maintains the dignity of the cast. Perhaps the most moving scene is Fanny's last hours as she seeks security in the poorhouse, dragging her poor dying body through the dark and obscure countryside. I believed it to be the truth of Hardy's times, and of or own too in some parts of the world.