Adapted from Thomas Hardy’s novel, Far from the Madding Crowd charts the journey of Bathsheba Everdene, a young woman struggling to make her own way in a world that rigidly dictates women’s roles and behavior.
When we first meet her, Bathsheba has inherited her uncle’s farm. Despite the misgivings of her farm laborers, she takes charge herself. She is assisted by Gabriel Oak, a proud man who has lost his own farm and accepts employment with her. Although the two are attracted to one another, social conventions forbid them to act on their feelings.
Bathsheba handles farm affairs capably enough, but she is less successful with her personal life. In a moment of girlish mischief, she sends an anonymous valentine to her neighbor, William Boldwood. The reserved older bachelor becomes enamored of Bathsheba. Although she respects him and regrets her behavior, Bathsheba can’t bring herself to accept Boldwood’s offer of marriage. Her actions lead to a bitter argument with Gabriel who leaves the farm.
Another man enters Bathsheba’s life – Sgt. Frank Troy – who was engaged to one of her servants, Fanny Robin. After first courting then abandoning Fanny, Troy now relents and comes to Weatherbury in search of her. He meets Bathsheba and after a whirlwind courtship, they elope, crushing the hopes of both Gabriel and Boldwood.
The honeymoon is brief. Troy proves no more responsible as a married man than he was as a bachelor, running up gambling debts and squandering Bathsheba’s money. Only Gabriel’s intervention saves her harvest from being ruined in a storm. At the height of their marital difficulties, Troy encounters Fanny, penniless and pregnant with his child. He promises to help her, but Fanny dies before he can bring her the promised money.
In a moment of rage and grief, Bathsheba discovers the truth about Troy and Fanny. Troy leaves Bathsheba and is presumed dead when his clothes are discovered on a beach. While she mourns, Boldwood cannot contain his secret hope that Bathsheba will become his wife. A beleaguered Bathsheba finally assents. At Boldwood’s celebratory Christmas party, Troy returns, threatening Bathsheba. Enraged, Boldwood kills him and is imprisoned.
Some months later, Gabriel tells Bathsheba that he has decided to leave Weatherbury and seek his fortune in America. Faced with his departure, a more mature Bathsheba admits that Gabriel is the man she needs and loves. Finally, they are united.