Screening Far from the Madding Crowd: The Transfer of Bathsheba’s Progressive Femininity from Novel to Film

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This thesis examines the different ways in which Bathsheba Everdene’s progressive femininity has been portrayed in Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) and in two of its film adaptations, one by John Schlesinger (1967) and one by Thomas Vinterberg (2015). It considers what the differences and similarities between the novel and the two film adaptations demonstrate with regard to the portrayal of Bathsheba’s relative progressiveness, and how this is visible in the depiction of the relation of her and Sergeant Troy. Comparative analyses are made between the two films, but also between novel and film. In chapter one the focus is on explaining why and how Bathsheba displays progressive femininity in the novel, for which Butler’s theory on gender and sex, as explained in Gender Trouble, is used. Chapter two and three analyse how this progressive femininity has been transferred to the two film adaptations, and how these film adaptations differ in their portrayal of that femininity. The thesis establishes that the 1967 adaptation remains closer to the novel, and that Bathsheba is portrayed as more soft, sweet, and naive. This contrasts with the 2015 film adaptation, in which Bathsheba is portrayed as rather stern, tough, and more in control. These differences are visible in the depiction of the relationship of Bathsheba and Troy, since she is presented as his prey in the novel and the 1967 film, but less so in the 2015 film. The reason the two films differ in their portrayal is partly due to the directors’ different motives in creating the film, since Schlesinger had the desire to be faithful to Hardy’s novel, whereas Vinterberg felt a certain distance to be more convenient for this time.
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