At this time of departure, when nothing more was visible of the inside of the parlour than a thin and still chink of light between the shutters, a passionate scene was in course of enactment there.Miss Everdene and Boldwood were alone. Her cheeks had lost a great deal of their healthful fire from the very seriousness of her position; but her eye was bright with the excitement of a triumph—though it was a triumph which had rather been contemplated than desired. She was standing behind a low arm-chair, from which she had just risen, and he was kneeling in it—inclining himself over its back towards her, and holding her hand in both his own. His body moved restlessly, and it was with what Keats daintily calls a too happy happiness. This unwonted abstraction by love of all dignity from a man of whom it had ever seemed the chief component, was, in its distressing incongruity, a pain to her which quenched much of the pleasure she derived from the proof that she was idolized. ‘I will try to love you,’ she was saying, in a trembling voice quite unlike her usual self-confidence.…
—Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd, Chapter XXIII
Again, it’s like going to writing school to read these passages. Hardy first uses the two lovers’ physical position like a film director, blocking them out on the set, around the armchair, in order to demonstrate their complete mismatch, then tops it with a metaphor in verse to seal their fate.
Just before the quoted section, Boldwood and Oak were singing duets to entertain Bathsheba Everdene and her farm workers. As everyone gets up to leave, Bathsheba and Boldwood retire to the parlor to discuss their possible engagement. As you see, the director doesn’t take us there immediately; he pauses for the workers to finish up a minor plot twist, then just as the camera would, establishes the shot outside the parlor first, then takes us inside where the action is going on.
He doesn’t begin with the two-shot, with Bathsheba standing and Boldwood kneeling on the chair, but instead with the close-up of her face, where we read her emotions. Only then does Hardy pull out to the two-shot.
Then, of course, Hardy does what film cannot: he alludes to Keats’s ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ and for a brief moment, only enough to establish the scene, sets up the dour Boldwood as the chirping nightingale and Bathsheba as the careworn poet. From later on in the poem:
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain —
To thy high requiem become a sod.
This romance is never going to work, as Boldwood sheds his dignity, hops onto the chair like a 19th century Tom Cruise, and natters away to his darling, oblivious to how he has failed himself.