In Far From the Madding Crowd, which is perhaps Thomas Hardy’s most popular novel, we leave Gabriel Oak and Bathsheba Everdene newly-married. Now, many years on, Bathsheba’s husband and three almost grown-up children have superseded the three diverse suitors of her youth. Bathsheba’s caprice and wilfulness has been replaced with the trials and tribulations of family life.
All three children reject the careers chosen for them by their parents to become evermore cosmopolitan in their lives and outlook. As the children mature and make fewer demands on her time, Bathsheba becomes involved with Gabriel’s mission to improve the working and living conditions of agricultural labourers. She strives against prejudice to form a women’s movement to uphold and promote the rights of Union members’ wives.
But as Industrialisation filters slowly into Hardy’s Victorian rural scenes, the Oak family find Wessex life is changing forever. Is this change for the better?