The convoluted relationships that characterize much of the novel are an example of a madding crowd, not distance from it.

Also, Hardy describes how industrialization and urbanization are changing rural life at a pace at which they may be beginning to converge. The madding crowd is infiltrating the peaceful pastoral landscapes, while the people of the fields are finding it harder and harder to find employment practicing their traditional ways of life. Farming is becoming a business rather than as a way to sustain the local community. Money and wealth acquisition are becoming important to people who were farmers content with healthy crop seasons. Names like Poorgrass, Pennyways, and Maryann Money are farcical ways of describing the role of wealth on all strata of society, impacting social class status. Hardy also seems to suggest that issues related to money, work, and romance are common to all of humanity.

Even if...
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