Language
Fact-checked

At LanguageHumanities, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What Does the Saying "Far from the Madding Crowd" Mean?

"Far from the Madding Crowd" evokes a longing for escape to a tranquil, undisturbed place away from the chaotic throngs of society. It speaks to the soul's quest for peace amidst life's relentless hustle. Have you ever yearned for such a retreat? Discover how this timeless phrase can inspire your own search for serenity in our bustling world.
Angela Farrer
Angela Farrer

The saying "far from the madding crowd" originates from the novel of the same name that Thomas Hardy wrote and published in 1874. The basic theme of the novel centers on a group of characters struggling to make quiet and content lives in spite of their emotion-driven and impulsive decisions. Some literary analysts claim that Hardy may have titled his novel with a touch of irony as a result. The title Far From the Madding Crowd is believed to draw inspiration from three different poems published previously, and the phrase is generally accepted as synonymous with any tranquil countryside location and way of life.

The first possible literary inspiration for the phrase "far from the madding crowd" can be found in an Edmund Spenser poem that he published in 1579. The line of interest references a "madding mynde" in the style of written English that was prevalent at the time. Another line of poetry that Hardy may have used as a starting point is William Drummond's "Farre from the madding Worldlings hoarse discords," which first appeared in 1614. These words possibly suggest a more complete picture of a quiet life away from the worldly bustle and rush of city living.

The saying "far from the madding crowd" may have originated from a poem by Edmund Spenser, a 16th century English poet.
The saying "far from the madding crowd" may have originated from a poem by Edmund Spenser, a 16th century English poet.

Thomas Grey's "Elegy Written Contained by a Country Churchyard" is an additional poem often cited as a reference for Thomas Hardy's initial idea for Far From the Madding Crowd. Scholars often suggest that Grey and Hardy both placed a high degree of value on pastoral country life as the ideal place for self-examination and introspective thought. Since Hardy wrote this novel during a time when the Victorian era was facing changes due to the Industrial Revolution, his writing might have reflected underlying concern that this kind of tranquil life may have been under a threat from this type of modernization.

Modern readers of Hardy's novel often focus on the term "madding" as a deviation from the more contemporary word "maddening" and speculate on its exact definition that would have been the most accurate during Hardy's lifetime. Some liken the word to mean "frenetic" as it relates to person's actions or thoughts. Others believe it is more closely tied to anger, but whether it actually means becoming angry or being on the receiving end of someone else's anger is somewhat open to debate among critics and literary analysts. The difference in this phrasing of "far from the madding crowd" also reflects the rate of change within the English language over a few centuries.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • The saying "far from the madding crowd" may have originated from a poem by Edmund Spenser, a 16th century English poet.
      By: Georgios Kollidas
      The saying "far from the madding crowd" may have originated from a poem by Edmund Spenser, a 16th century English poet.