Far From the Madding Crowd narrates the story of the love of three men, Gabriel Oak, Farmer Boldwood and Sergeant Troy, for the same woman Bathsheba Everdene. Bathsheba Everdene has vast dominance over two men in particular, Farmer Oak and Farmer Boldwood. Bathsheba entails several schemes in which effects both farmers. We are drawn to Bathsheba very easily and quickly, as she is one of the main characters.
To us as spectators and readers of this novel, we find that people who do physical work get tired very easily and fall to sleep, whereas Farmer Oak, is described totally the opposite. He wakes up very quickly, which gives us the impression of his attentiveness and reliability. We also find, the older generation respond a lot to nature in most of their time, like observing the stars. Not only does Thomas Hardy enjoy the features of nature but also Farmer Oak the character.
Thomas Hardy uses the ability of portraying his personal interests to us within the personalities of his characters. Hardy’s view of life is essentially tragic, caused by the hand of fate (or chance) in human affairs. Sometimes, fate operates through natural occurrences. We find fate to be one of the main themes, which appears as a continuation throughout the novel. Hardy introduces this theme appropriately, and it appears to add interest every time.
Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak have met on several occasions due to the effect of fate. One of theses experiences was when Oak followed an artificial light, which was intentionally structured to lead to Bathsheba. Bathsheba was found in a small hut with an older woman, known to be her aunty, named Mrs. Hurst: “Oak upon hearing these remarks became more curious to observe her features, but this prospect being denied him by the leading effect of the cloak, and by this his aerial position, he felt himself drawing upon his fancy for her details.” He recognised her appearance before from the, “… Black hair and the striking red jacket…” And as their paths crossed again, Oak had the opportunity to explore her personality without even making any communication with her. He instantly fell for her and sees the true beauty and nature of her.
However, beyond the beauty he sees the faults that appear. One main fault with Bathsheba was, ‘Vanity.’ Within chapter two, Oak comes upon the stranger (Bathsheba), for the third time. This time Oak observes Bathsheba’s riding abilities. Farmer Oak is overwhelmed at the attitude of Bathsheba, when she is alone as an individual enjoying the peacefulness (obviously not knowing of Oak’s appearance) She seemed very extraordinary when unobserved.
Oak also entails the feeling of amusement as he views each and every strange action she takes upon the pony’s back. Bathsheba’s behaviour also gives Oak the awareness of how much of a rebel; she really is, as she is also breaking a convention! “The girl, who wore no riding-habit, looked around for a moment, as if to assure herself that all humanity was out of view, then dexterously dropped backwards flat upon the pony’s back, her head over its tail, her feet against its shoulders, and her eyes to the sky.” His amusement is expressed within the following quote, “Oak was amused, perhaps a little astonished and hanging up the hat in his hut...” From this point, we get the impression Bathsheba is playing hard to get. Her actions upon the pony’s back may also appear to us as a sexual act, MAYBE knowing of Oaks appearance, and wanting to succeed in attaining his attention.
Deeper into the novel we fell, after viewing her observed and accumulated her beauty for so long, he soon plans to propose marriage to her and waits for the right opportunity to visit her aunt. Finally, on a January morning, Oak dressed carefully, but tastefully. He felt a little unsure of himself and the plan, but succeeds in visiting her aunt. This part of the novel was to create tension by using an effect of messing with Oaks feelings.
Mrs. Hurst wrongly discouraged him by relating that her niece has many proposals of marriage from suitable, young admirers. Oak had the feeling of regret of being an ordinary sort of man. Oaks feeling rise once again with delightfulness as Bathsheba races after him. But mischievously tells him her aunt was wrong to inform him of that information. Oak thinks Bathsheba is speaking words of encouragement, until she states the decision still remains about not getting married. Now, Oaks feelings sink back down.
Oak declared his love for Bathsheba, one more time, before he left, “No-no-I cannot. Don’t press me any more-don’t. I don’t love you-so ‘twould be ridiculous,” she said with a laugh, oak replied, With expression of Bathshebas amusement after disappointing Oak, gave us an indication of her callousness and cruelty to Oak. Oak leaves with disappointment and an agreement of not proposing to her ever again.
As an audience we can see Farmer Oak is not treated at a very high standard, “…and felt the secret fusion of himself on Bathsheba to be burning with a finer flame now that she was gone – that was all.” He feels he has live on his life differently, where upon the choice of moving to Weatherbury was made. Bathsheba’s respect towards Oak’s opinions is revealed. In making his decision of moving, we find Oak to be very independent, like Bathsheba herself. Hardy has used similarities between the two to contrast their love more effectively.
Oak seems a fair person who never loses his minds balance like a child who gets angry when it is not given what it wants. On the other hand Bathsheba loses her temper when she is not praised. Hardys use of psychological insight into the characters expose the suppressed feeling Bathsheba has for Oak. Her feelings are made plain rather than hidden. His statement that he does not want to marry her any longer annoys her, but the patience with and understanding of her are remarkable.
Even when Bathsheba experiences a, ‘tantrum,’ he never loses his dignity or composure. After effecting Oak in several ways, Bathsheba has her eyes set on the next man to hurt. Mr. Boldwood appears to be a very interesting character and bears himself as a perfect gentleman. He is 40 years of age, so we can meet the understanding of him still being a bachelor. We notice he is easily noticed by the female gender; therefore we get the impression of a dignified, handsome man.
Mr. Boldwood also gains a lot of respect from the men; therefore he must be very liked. From studying the characters name, we can imagine the image of Mr. Boldwood. The words, ‘Bold,’ and, ‘Wood,’ both mean muscular, strapping and a lot of strength is needed to succeed in breaking them easily. Mr. Boldwood puts the intuition across of his shyness and his low interest relating to woman. Hardy has created chapter nine for several purposes.
The conversation between Liddy and Bathsheba gains a lot of background information regarding Farmer Boldwood and Fanny Robin. We also notice Bathsheba’s vanity is once again emphasized. We know of Bathsheba’s attraction towards Mr. Boldwood as we see the responsibility taken by her to make her first impression. She does not know of Mr. Boldwood very well, so the only feature of Mr. Boldwood she knows of, is that he is an important person, and he is visiting her! We are reminded of Oak when Boldwood is faced with love, this was purposely structured.
The incident of Farmer Boldwood’s visit and his return without meeting the mistress are significant. Bathsheba and us as the readers can learn about Farmer Boldwood from stories told by her maids. It is significant that since she has not seen him before, gives her right to make a first impression and because she is not mannerly dressed, she refuses to see him, “A woman’s dress being apart of her countenance, and any disorder in the one being of the same nature with a male formation…” Liddy was pleaded by Bathsheba to suggest an idea to say, “Say you’re in a fright with dust, and can’t come down.”
To be dressed up, just to see a man, for a few minutes, comes to the conclusion that she is fond of Mr. Boldwood. This is proven when she questions Liddy about Mr. Boldwood, instantly after the door closed. We also learn Mr. Boldwood is a very considerate and thoughtful man as he is concerned with Fanny’s Robin’s welfare. This proves he is a soft-centered character who likes to help and look out for people he cares about.
We also learn that he can exert his powers by using his money. We feel Bathsheba entails interest in Boldwood because of his prosperity and his good-looking charms. Bathsheba’s first action taken in which to inform Boldwood of her liking to him was in the form of secret love. This was the first time Bathsheba decided to toy with Mr. Boldwoods emotions and this was successfully accomplished by sending him a valentines card stating, ‘Marry me.’ Under the existent circumstances, Mr. Boldwood is surprised.
He considers the card thoroughly and cannot stop observing it. Boldwood becomes very addictive towards Bathsheba but as he appears inexperienced, he odes not know how to deal with it. He decides to think about the possibilities of passion, “When Boldwood went to bed he placed the valentine in the corner of the looking glass. He was conscious of its presence, even when his back was turned upon it.
It was the first time in Boldwoods life that such an event had occurred.” The attitude of Boldwood performed informs us of his reliability and states how much he loves the attention. Bathsheba’s position is revealed to be very complex. We also gather the evidence of Boldwood. He has never really understood woman and has definitely never been moved by one. Mr. Boldwood appears to be struck by the appearance of Bathsheba, “He saw black hair, her correct facial curves profile…” The interest Boldwood applies towards Bathsheba changes Boldwoods present description to lower standards of being strong. Boldwood is most definitely affected by Bathsheba and she knows it.
The dilemma she has received becomes harder and harder for her. She feels nothing but guilt and thinks back to the possibilities of a relationship between her and Boldwood, if the card hadn’t been sent. We instantly know she regrets her actions taken, as the language was structured to look back at the past.
Whenever someone looks back and considers other possibilities, it is a sign of regret. She feels she would be flattered by his image of her, if the card was not sent. She does not value the imagination of Boldwood. Hardy has structured the effects upon Boldwood to create more tension on Bathsheba and more interest to the novel. At the beginning of the novel, Bathsheba appears to be a woman filled with vanity and pride.
She often looks in the mirror and admires what she sees. Hardy used a tightly structured method to combine her emotions for Oak and Boldwood together. She turned down Gabriel’s proposal, for she feels he is beneath her, She is incensed that Boldwood does not pay her attention and manipulates him into loving her. Hardy uses clever techniques to change Bathsheba’s character for the better, while the novel advances.
Hardy uses unpredictability to end the novel, by introducing Farmer Oak. Finally, she recognises the real worth of him. The transformed Bathsheba is a woman delightfully free from vanity and pride. She is no longer too proud to accept Gabriel. The suggestion of marriage comes from her, as Oak cannot propose to her again! After long suffering; they are truly entitled to their happiness. As Hardy upgrades the standards of Bathsheba we see she loves Oak and this time not out of infatuation or guilt.