Clothing in ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’

This essay explores how clothing illustrates the changing order of Victorian Society in ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ by Thomas Hardy.

The essay uses many examples from the text to illustrate how clothing can be used as a marker of the strong value system in the Victorian value system. It also proves how Hardy undermines such beliefs; examples are given of traditional notions of class, identity and masculinity being questioned. The essay also uses clothing to explore the subjugation of women, morality and sexuality in the Victorian era.
“In the Victorian era appearances were important. In order to be accepted by society, the individual needed to be seen to conform to its values. In Far From the Madding Crowd, such rules and values are evident by what is worn. Clothing, therefore, acts as another marker of society’s control over the individual. The power of such control is seen to weaken, however, as the ever-prevalent modern world begins to infect the public consciousness. As the old order disintegrates, clothing becomes an effective disguise for the individual to hide behind.”