When Bathsheba first meets Troy in the dark she and him both flirt together furiously; “Thank you for the sight of such a beautiful face”. Bathsheba tries to cover the fact that she is flattered and rather enjoying it by doing her best to be as disagreeable as possible. When Bathsheba meets Troy for his sword exercise, she dominates no longer. Before, Troy has always played the servant (making her hay, hiving her bees etc… ). Troy has now become the tutor. Bathsheba is astonished, amazed. During the sword exercise Hardy uses the words: “plump”, “succulent”, “luxuriant”.
These words are used to describe the place but here they can all be related to a woman. There is a sexual and flirtatious undertone. Bathsheba feels guilty because she is sexually aroused. The tone of the conversation between Bathsheba and Gabriel when they are covering the ricks is not the tone of a conversation between a farmer and her farm worker; “Thank you for your devotion a thousand times Gabriel! “. Bathsheba claims that she does not love Gabriel but perhaps she feels something for him? At any rate she is relying on him more and more and he is beginning to play a larger part in her life.Order now
Even the name Oak is a clue to his character; English Oak is renowned for its strength and durability. It is reliable as is Gabriel. His Christian name also shows that he is an angel (the angel Gabriel). In this rural community responsibilities fall into two categories: the practical responsibilities and the moral responsibilities. Oak acts as a tutor on many occasions to Bathsheba and she slowly becomes aware of her need for his aid both practically and morally. In chapter four when Gabriel is asking Bathsheba to marry him she acts irresponsibly, firstly by running after him and secondly by leading him on and then turning him down.
Bathsheba runs after Gabriel not to accept him but also not to lose him. The way Bathsheba leads Gabriel on and treats it as a game when he is proposing to her and answering his offerings by saying “Yes: I should like that” and “Dearly I should like that” shows how she is vain and unintentionally cold hearted. She would like the bride’s opportunity of showing off, but not her responsibilities. We learn why Gabriel will not succeed with her now. He is too humble (she needs impressing) and too honest (some deception is required).
When Bathsheba, as a game uses the Bible and key for the old superstitious practice of foretelling her husband. The way Bathsheba leaves it to fate is very irresponsible. She fails to consider the consequences of her actions. Whilst Bathsheba is sending the valentine Hardy goes to great extent to stress the idle off-hand way in which the card is sent; “Bathsheba, a small yawn upon her mouth, took the pen, and with off-hand serenity directed the missive to Boldwood”. The flippant manner in which she chooses the seal is again irresponsible.
The way she chooses the seal solely to upset Boldwood; “Twould upset the solemnity of a parson and clerk too” is thoughtless and she cannot comprehend that this simple valentine would spark off a long chain of events ending in death and misery. Earlier in the novel she is emotionally immature, rash, impetuous, does things on the spur of the moment etc… However, in chapter 19 we see the beginnings of Bathsheba’s maturity. She seems sincerely sorry for the pain and anguish she has caused Boldwood and we see a greater self-awareness; “O I am wicked to have made you suffer so!
“And “Don’t say it: don’t! “. In chapter 22 Hardy is still keeping Bathsheba’s vanity before us. Here, although she is distressed by Boldwood’s torment and grief and is prepared to pay a penalty for having caused it, she is nevertheless flattered by his idolising of her and pleased with her triumph; “The situation was not without fearful joy”. She feels proud at her noble behaviour of giving an unconditional promise of marriage. We again see her acting maturely (acknowledging the damage she has done and accepting the penalty of marriage for it).
However, her meeting with Troy shows that she has quickly forgotten her speech to Boldwood and once again we see her reverting to her old immature self. Bathsheba also plays the role of the idol. Both Boldwood and Oak idolise Bathsheba (Boldwood more than Oak). In chapter 16, Bathsheba, unknowingly, is performing a role for Boldwood. Boldwood thinks that putting Bathsheba on a pedestal and admiring her from afar is a good way of getting to know her. Unfortunately Boldwood has not the slightest idea of how to act around Bathsheba. In fact he does not even know if she is pretty or not; “Is Miss Everdene considered handsome?
” Boldwood quickly goes from being indifferent about Bathsheba to being jealous of her. In chapter 19, when Gabriel is talking to Bathsheba, he is “criticising her conduct” and almost preaching at her. She is demurring herself. She does not want her to behave the way that she is. He wants her to stay the way that he has idolised her as. In chapter 22 when Bathsheba has nobly done her best to make amends with Boldwood, Hardy says “the pleasure she derived from the proof that she was idolised”. This extract shows two things. One is that it shows that Boldwood is idolising her and the other is that Bathsheba enjoys being idolised (vanity).
Bathsheba also plays the role of the victim. She is the victim of Gabriel’s criticism; “I can not allow any man to – to criticise my private conduct”. She gets very uptight when she hears the truth about herself; “you are greatly to blame for playing pranks upon a man like Mr Boldwood, merely as a pastime”. She feels very indignant that a man, she considers, inferior to her dares to criticise her. When Troy finds Fanny dead he immediately rejects Bathsheba. She becomes “the victim”. What has she done to deserve this rejection? She is jealous because Fanny is her rival in love even once she is dead.