Bathsheba's Choice in ‘Far from the Maddening Crowd.’
Set in the 1840’s, the novel tells the story of Bathsheba Everdene and
the three men who feature in her life.
Gabriel Oak is the one of the most central figures in the novel. He is
an expert shepherd and a farmer and is a man of simple values, who
earns an honest living, and is in harmony with nature. His love for
Bathsheba is honest, unromantic, and above all, steadfast and patient.
Gabriel is unselfish, resourceful, and is able to withstand misfortune
in all areas of his life. He is also the counterweight to all the
other major characters in the story. Mr Boldwood is a well-respected,
local gentleman farmer. He has dignity and is depicted as a good
neighbour: he is kind to Fanny and Gabriel. However, Mr Boldwood is
noticeably chivalrous in his attempt to save Bathsheba from finding
out the truth about her husbands past, and eventually pursues her with
a single-minded passion to make her his wife. In contrast to Gabriel
and Mr Boldwood, Troy is a fascinating blend of the attractive and the
repulsive. His appearance is devastatingly attractive to women and his
dashing manner, fluent flattery and skill in swordmanship enable him
to ‘assault’ and win his chosen prey. He gives the impression that he
is a person of strong character but this is quickly shown to be
limited. A close analysis of his character and actions reveals him to
be an unprincipled cheat and liar and he neither changes nor develops
during the novel.
Bathsheba is a complex character and her gradual development is
central to the progress of the novel. The early chapters stress her
high-spirited and independent nature, as well as her vanity and
capriciousness. Bathsheba is a very educated, beautiful and highly
attractive person. However, in later chapters she shows herself to be
capable, brave and self-reliant, struggling against multiplying
disasters, which have their origins in her earlier immaturity. Her
deficiency in maturity leads her into two disastrous relationships,
namely with Mr Boldwood and with Troy. The author makes it clear that
Bathsheba’s character includes both fine feelings and faults. By the
end of the novel she reveals an inner strength by being able to endure
Troy and Fanny being buried together, and she recognizes her need for
the love of Gabriel, who has remained loyal and steadfast.
Bathsheba recieves her first proposal of marriage from Gabriel Oak.
Gabriel offers Bathsheba, security, wealth, happiness, social status
and most importantly love. "I have a nice snug little farm" and " You
shall have a piano now-and I'll practice up the flute right well to
play with you in the evenings." However, despite all of Gabriel's good
qualities, Bathsheba rejects his offer of marriage, because of several
reasons. A major factor for Bathsheba...