Thomas Hardy, the writer of “Far From A Madding Crowd” once lived in idyllic agricultural Britain, his affection and love for this is shown very clearly in his writing and in the book as a whole. Hardy spends much time describing the landscape to the reader when a new location is introduced in the novel. In the beginning of the second chapter Hardy spends one third of the small chapter describing the area. We are told of the trees, foliage and “dry leaves” as he continues to create a visual in the readers’ head.
The reader pays attention to this extra detail because of our “instinctive act of humankind to stand and listen”. To end the description Hardy explains how Oak’s “tiny frame” is minute compared to this wholesome surrounding of the Wessex countryside. We can see by this that Hardy loves this atmosphere as he gives so much time to the countryside which he loves dearly. He even personifies the twinkling of the stars as if they were living and gives them “throbs of one body” like a pulse and tell us they are “timed by a common pulse” which is the Wessex landscape itself.
Hardy loves it to the extent where it is living and breathing. Hardy chose his characters names carefully, not only to portray their individual characteristics but to also suit his idyllic countryside. The central role is given to Gabriel Oak. His name Oak, suggests that he is of a strong and tough nature like the Oak tree. It also lets us aware of his enduring character like the strong oak tree, which has a touch outer bark, enduring the elements. One of Miss Everdene’s workers is named Joseph Poorgrass, the reader is made to feel that he is (inevitably) poor and quite weedy like grass itself.
The employer herself has a name which rhymes with and is spelt close to Evergreen but this, like the other names is no coincidence. The writer has even incorporated nature into the names of his characters; their names which appear frequently in the text are a reminder that Hardy does enjoy the countryside. For, surely if he did not like the countryside he would not give it so much exposure. A further continuation of the personification of Wessex occurs with the weather Hardy makes sure the reader is aware of what season they are currently in.
The area outside the barracks is well described as “a snowy evening”. The reader now understands the chilled weather the characters face here. There is a bitter wind here as well as lots of snow. Even though Hardy explains that this is not alpine snow which modern readers would compare skiing holidays to, this is in fact a very cold, damp and dark scene. He is not promoting the weather but this is not to say he doesn’t like Wessex. He gives Wessex realism; this “pepper and salt” feel because he wants the reader to believe it actually exists, not just a figure of his imagination.
In the novel most of the characters are in some sort of employment, most of them, logically work in agriculture. Hardy provides much detail over the systems of farming and rural jobs to which the reader can learn and be entertained from. We are told in detail of sheep farming, “haybonds” the act of making hay into ropes and the jobs of a bailiff, which to modern readers is important as s/he does not take your electronics if you don’t pay your overdue parking tickets!
Hardy loves these rural jobs he goes into great detail to share this type of livelihood with us. The name Wessex itself suggests a lot to the reader. Those who know their counties will realise Wessex is actually a fictitious place. It consists of modern day Devon, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Somerset, Dorset and Hampshire. This includes his hometown of Dorchester which he renames Casterbridge. At the front of the book there is an attached map of his made up land. I believe Hardy creates this place so as not to let go of the childhood place which he loved.
When he was young he grew up in rural England where the ideals of agricultural life took place which he believed was much better than urban life. Even though rural life has its problems it is not as bad as “townspeople with their cards and announcements”. Hardy makes a point of adding that into the novel. He is therefore a nostalgic writer and he wants to relieve this world which now, is becoming extinct. The creation of Wessex shows his dedication and alliance to this rare world.