With closer reference to chapters 7, 11 and 16 (appendix), explore Hardy’s presentation of Fanny Robin In chapter seven of the book ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ by Thomas Hardy, we are introduced to the character Fanny Robin. She is introduced during the night in the bleak darkness of a churchyard which symbolises death and possibly foreshadows unfortunate future events for Fanny. We are told that Fanny has ‘a bundle of some sort’ at her feet; from this, we can notice that Fanny is possibly running away from something.
There is evidence that she is poor because she is described as ‘rather thinly clad’, and it is unusual for someone to be wearing very few clothes at such a cold time of year. Oak spares Fanny some money, and in the exchange of the shilling, Oak felt her pulse, it is described as ‘beating with a tragic intensity’ which means that he can notice that she is unhealthy, but the word ‘tragic’ stands out because it suggests a tragedy, where someone usually dies.
This also makes us think of a stereotypical image of a heroin in Victorian times; because she is ill, she seems angelic, like she belongs in heaven.
Hardy also shows a contrast between Bathsheba and Fanny. Fanny was very grateful and thankful for Oaks generosity and says thank you whereas Bathsheba, in chapter one, doesn’t take much notice of Oaks kindness. Hardy also shows this contrast by use of Pathetic Fallacy; when Bathsheba is introduced, it is made clear to us that she wants to stand out, ‘the sun lighted up to a scarlet glow the crimson jacket she wore….
’ which shows that she is very passionate and unconventional. However, to describe Fanny, Hardy uses expressions like ‘motionless stranger’, which dehumanises her and makes her seem really small and weak.
In Chapter eleven, it becomes clear that Fanny had been running away to go and visit her boyfriend, Frank who is a soldier. Soldiers often had a reputation for having many girlfriends so, in this chapter, Fanny comes across as being quite naive. There is more emphasis and description of Fanny’s weakness because she is described as a ‘form’ which makes her seem like a tiny blot or shape in the distance. More Pathetic Fallacies are used in chapter eleven, it is night time, ‘The bell was in the open air, and being overlaid with several inches of muffling snow’, which is describing the setting as being muted and extremely quiet.
This person was so much like a mere shade upon the earth’. The word ‘shade’ stands out because it is often a word used instead of ghost. These things could signify death in the relationship of Fanny and Frank. When Fanny tries to gain Frank’s attention outside his window, she throws snow at it, ‘thrown with such imbecility as was shown here’, this shows fanny’s fragility and her inability to do even one small thing; she has to try another couple of times before she actually captures his attention. It shows her persistence and desperation.
When Fanny introduces herself to Frank, he says ‘What girl are you? ’ which suggests that Fanny isn’t his only girlfriend, and that he has many. She responds to him, ‘Your wife, Fanny Robin’, which tells us that Frank and Fanny have had some sexual relations because she considers herself to be his wife, but this wouldn’t be openly spoken or written about in Victorian times. Frank asks Fanny, ‘How did you come here? ’; this shows that he did not expect her to be able to visit him because the journey is so long.
Franks is inside in the warmth, whereas Fanny is left outside in the cold which show that he’s not particularly interested in her and that he has power over her because they are not in the same room or on the same level. Fanny asks ‘When will it be? ’ to which Frank replies, ‘I don’t quite recollect’ which is playing with her feelings. Fanny then asks when it is they shall be married and Frank is very hesitant and dashes are used in the dialogue which shows that he is not very keen, and has no intention of marriage. The dashes are also use in Fanny’s dialogue, but this is to show emotion in her speech.
It is hinted that Fanny and Frank have had sexual relations on more than one occasion because Fanny says ‘You said lots of times you would marry me’. It is possible that Frank only said that he would marry her in order to get her to have sex with him. This also implies that there is a very high chance that Fanny could be pregnant, which could be why she is so desperate to get married and she wants the marriage to happen as soon as possible. She would be thought very poorly of if she was to have a baby out of wed-lock because there was a lot of stigma around this sort of thing in Victorian times, and it would be very difficult for er to find another job or another husband.
However, in this chapter, Hardy wants the reader to sympathise for Fanny, because it would not be easy to be in her situation. In chapter sixteen (appendix), the chapter is split up into four main parts to resemble the quarters of the clock. This creates an atmosphere and it emphasises the growing frustration and embarrassment of Frank when Fanny doesn’t show up for their wedding. Frank and Fanny were due to be married in the church, ‘All saints’, but instead, Fanny went to ‘All Souls’, and as a result, was late for her own wedding. This is symbolic because we usually associate souls with death.
When Fanny turns up, she asks if they can be married the next day, but Frank says ‘I don’t go through that experience again for some time, I warrant you! ’ because he has lost his pride. Fanny is trembling which shows that she is a conventional image of a woman and lowers herself to men. A lot of the description of Fanny symbolises and foreshadows death; there are many hints that something will go wrong for her or someone close to her in the future. Hardy has created a presentation of a very weak character, who doesn’t want to stand out, but she is also very mysterious and I think that she has a lot of secrets hidden.