Vol. 51 No. 1 (2003)
Research Article

Proper Names and Improper Meanings in Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd

Published 2003-03-01



In Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy gave his characters names which strengthen the novel's implicit challenge to Victorian morality. In particular, the names Bathsheba Everdene, Francis Troy, and Fanny Robin make multiple references to people, places, objects, and events in pagan Britain, ancient Greece, and Old Testament Israel, raising the Wessex characters to the level of the figures to whom their names allude and tending to make readers judge them by the standards they would use for characters in folk, classical, or biblical narratives. The names Hardy chose help to make Wessex seem not only a part of the world stage rather than a backwater but to turn it into a pagan country, despite its veneer of Christianity.


  1. Aschkenasy, Nehama. “Biblical Substructures in the Tragic Form: Hardy,The Mayor of Casterridge [and] Agnon, And the Crooked Shall Be Made Straight” Modern Language Studies 13.1 (1983): 101–10.
  2. “Bathsheba.” Davis, John D. A Dictionary of the Bible. 4th rev. ed. Westwood, NJ: Revell,1965.
  3. Borenstein, Seth. “When it comes to monogamy, even birds do it.” San Jose Mercury News 13 February 1999: final ed.: 19A.
  4. Boumelha, Penny. Thomas Hardy and Women: Sexual Ideology and Narrative Form. Brighton: Harvester,1982.
  5. Caless, Bryn. “Hardy’s Characters and the Significance of their Names.” Thomas Hardy Year Book 4 (1973–74): 10–16.
  6. Gray, Thomas. “Elegy written in a Country Churchyard.” The Oxford Book of English Verse 1250–1900. Ed. Arthur Quiller- Couch. Oxford: Clarendon, 1912. 516–21.
  7. Hands, Timothy. Thomas Hardy: Distracted Preacher?: Hardy’s Religious Biography and its Influence on his Novels. London: Macmillan, 1989.
  8. Hardy, Thomas. Far from the Madding Crowd. Ed. Ronald Blythe. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin,1978.
  9. Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the d’Urbervilles. New York: Washington Square, 1952.
  10. “Hardy’s Correspondence with Leslie Stephen” In Far from the Madding Crowd: An Authoritative Text Backgrounds Criticism. Ed. Robert C. Schweik. New York: Norton, 1986. 340–44.
  11. Holy Bible, The. King James version. London: Collins, n.d.
  12. Maynial, Edouard. Introduction. Madame Bovary: Mœurs de province. By Gustave Flaubert. Paris: Garnier, 1961. xix-xxv.
  13. Mistichelli, William. “Androgyny, Survival, and Fulfillment in Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd.” Modern Language Studies 18.3 (1988): 53–64.
  14. Morgan, Rosemarie. Women and Sexuality in the Novels of Thomas Hardy. London: Routledge, 1988.
  15. Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989.
  16. Partridge, Eric. A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English … Ed. Paul Beale. 8th ed. New York: Macmillan, 1984.
  17. Schmidt, Joël. Dictionnaire de la mythologie grecque et romaine. Paris: Laroussse, 1965.
  18. Shakespeare, William. The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Ed. Irving Ribner and George Lyman Kittredge. Waltham, MA: Ginn,1971.
  19. “Sheba.” William Smith. Smith’s Bible Dictionary. New York: Family, 1973.
  20. Skilling, M.R. The Country of “Far from the Madding Crowd.” 6th ed. Dorchester: Thomas Hardy Society,1995. n.p.
  21. Springer, Marlene. Hardy’s Use of Allusion. London: Macmillan, 1983.
  22. Viera, Carroll. “The name Levi in Far from the Madding Crowd.” Thomas Hardy Year Book 14 (1987): 63.
  23. Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language. 2nd college ed. 1970.
  24. Wright, David P. and Richard N. Jones. “Discharge.” In The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 2. Ed. David Noel Freedman, et al. New York: Doubleday, 1992. 204–07.
  25. Yee, Gale A. “Bathsheba.” In The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 1 Ed. David Noel Freedman, et al. New York: Doubleday, 1992. 627–28.