An Analysis of Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd
Farmer Gabriel Oak has just acquired his own sheep farm; as we meet
him first, we the readers are inclined to believe that he is the hero
of the novel.
His name "Gabriel Oak" symbolises the strength and solidarity of a
tree, as well as the angelic intentions in his biblical name
The next character we are introduced to is Miss Bathsheba Everdene,
whom Gabriel sees on a wagon at the tollgate. Bathsheba is a young and
attractive woman, dressed in a 'crimson' coat, which signifies her
confidence in her appearance and need to be noticed. Farmer Oak sees
her most prominent flaw, vanity, as she disregards the countryside and
objects around her, all except for a mirror in which she admires
herself. Unbeknown to her, Farmer Oak observes this whole charade from
where he was standing. He walks down to where the wagon is residing to
pay the toll, and overhears Bathsheba refusing to pay the price. Oak
offers to pay the extra two pence for her; Bathsheba then acknowledges
him with a slight glance, confirming to him that she does not find him
remotely attractive in any way. The gatekeeper and Gabriel discuss
Bathsheba's faults, where Gabriel announces that vanity plays a big
part of her character.
The next time Oak sees Bathsheba he has found her hat and picked it
up. She is unconscious of his presence once again; immodestly riding
astride a horse, in a way which was unusual for pre-20th century
times. Oak is fascinated with this display and continues to spectate.
Bathsheba is not wearing appropriate riding clothes and her seat on
the horse is rather strange. When Gabriel moves to where he should
stop her, he sees bare flesh on her arm and fantasises about her naked
arm in the summer. When Bathsheba notices Farmer Oak, she is
relatively surprised to see his head rising above the hedge.
The view with which she presented Oak with was awe invoking; making
her look tall and powerful. She immediately became aware of herself
and rearranged her facial expression to a look that was almost
arrogant. Oak blushed, whereas Bathsheba composedly kept her facial
colour under control.
When Gabriel presents Bathsheba with her estranged hat, she smiles and
takes it from him. Her first introduction to him was quite informal:
"'You are Farmer Oak, are you not?'
'That or there abouts. I'm lately come to this place.' "
When they part, Bathsheba has not told Gabriel her name, which appears
as flirtatious and provocative.
Their next conversation arises when Gabriel approaches Weatherbury
Farm to propose to Bathsheba, but she is nowhere to be seen. Oak
retreats and begins to return home, when Bathsheba comes running to
catch up with him; she corrects his thoughts that she has many
Oak is relieved when she...