Far From The Madding Crowd

This essay has a total of 2899 words and 12 pages.

Far From The Madding Crowd

English Literature Coursework Assignment - Far From The Madding Crowd

(Prose written before 1900)

‘Compare and contrast Bathsheba Everdene's three suitors'

In the novel ‘Far from the Madding Crowd' the main female role, Bathsheba Everdene, is
pursued by three suitors, each of whom is very different from the others. These three men
are Farmer William Boldwood, owner of the farm adjacent to Bathsheba's, Gabriel Oak,
bankrupt farmer who becomes Bathsheba's shepherd, and later, bailiff, and Sergeant Francis
Troy, a soldier whose regiment was close by to Weatherbury.

Each of the three suitors pursues Bathsheba in a very different style, each of which I
will look at in this coursework, but, unfortunately for nave Bathsheba she fails to
choose the best for her, Gabriel Oak, when he becomes her first suitor. Only at the end of
the novel does she make the obvious and correct choice.

The first character I will look at is Sergeant Francis Troy who came upon Bathsheba one
night as she walked along the fir plantation, checking that all was well in the fields and
paddocks, although Gabriel Oak had check before her. When Troy had become entangled with
her, one of his first questions was ‘Are you a woman?', to which Bathsheba replied,
‘Yes.' His immediate reaction was to compliment her by calling her a lady, illustrating
his natural tendency to see most young ladies he comes across as merely objects for
personal conquest. Flattery is of course his chief weapon in charming and conquering the
female heart. One of the main reasons that Bathsheba fell for him in the first place is
her own vulnerability to flattery, as she is such a vain young lady. From this point on,
on the occasions that he meets her, he continues to remark on how beautiful see looks,
concentrating on praising her appearance. His first attempt at courtship was filled with
nothing more than these praises as he quickly wormed his way into Bathsheba's heart. His
impressive skills at swordmanship astonished Bathsheba, as shown in the hollow among the
ferns when she realised how sharp his sword really was as he manoeuvred it around her, and
she suddenly found herself falling deeper and deeper in love with him.

There are a number of things which had attracted her to Troy, the most principal being the
constant flattery and praise of her beauty. His sword skills in particular excited her and
were a wonder, something totally different from the mundane ways of country life which
surrounded her at present. His handsome appearance drew her closer and she found herself
captivated by him. She was attracted by his superficial glamour especially the fact that
he was a dashing Cavalryman, with his red jacket and shiny buttons. From the start she was
deceived by his appearance, knowing this inside herself by never admitting it. She had to
ask other people about their relationship, for example Gabriel even though she rejected
his advice to reject Troy and marry Boldwood, because she was so doubtful herself as to
what was happening. His forwardness also intrigued her, always asking for another chance
to meet her and the kiss he gave to her in the hollow in the ferns after demonstrating his

Their secret and hasty marriage shocked many of the townsfolk who had not known such an
affair had been occurring and genuinely believed that she should have married Boldwood
instead. She dismissed all talk that the marriage was to be doomed, and even stopped
Gabriel from uttering a word about it,

‘…now I don't wish for a single remark from you upon the subject - indeed, I forbid it',

and this shows how she did not wish her happy mood to be ruined. This also shows her
reluctance to face the reality of her situation and her refusal to face the truth that she
had made the wrong choice. Even before her marriage, when she had first met Troy, she
asked Liddy if she knew him and almost immediately Liddy warned her of him. She said that
he was ‘a wild scamp' and Bathsheba immediately jumped to his defence, protecting him
because she could not see his faults as she was so blinded by her infatuation with him.
Liddy pleaded with her to forget about him, saying he was a liar and a cheat but Bathsheba
eventually told her, after a lengthy bout of sobbing, that she was to keep her opinions to
herself and try to understand what she was feeling.

Troy also had frequent outbursts with Boldwood on the subject of Bathsheba, before and
after the marriage, in which we saw his humour in laughing at these ‘country bumpkins'
of the village, for example Gabriel, Boldwood and the others who frequented the malthouse,
who wouldn't know how to win the heart of a woman even if they spent years trying to. In
fact, while he was playing around with Bathsheba, even after the marriage, he failed to
realise that both Blodwood and Gabriel were deeply serious about Bathsheba and would never
treat her the ways in which Troy would never have thought of. This shows Troy's
over-confidence in how he treats women, thinking that what he does is the best any man can

Later in the novel, we find out the real consequences of Troy's earlier affair with Fany
Robin, an employee of Farmer Boldwood. Troy's relationship with her had ended up with he
becoming pregnant, and to avoid embarrasment and a possible expulsion from his regiment,
he agreed to marry her. He did not, however, do this immediately and atempted to stay away
from her for a while, not asking his superiors if it was even possible. When he finally
did agree to wed her, he discovered that she had arrived at the wrong church and had
turned up too late and could not get married then, to Troy's delight.

Fanny even followed him to Casterbridge, where she eventually died at the gates of the
workhouse she was struggling to reach. Her body, weak and thin as it was, was taken to
Bathsheba's house and laid there for the night, child and all. When Bathsheba eventually
did discover that Troy had jilted another woman and left her holding a baby and facing a
life in the gutter, she was too shocked to do anything and when she finally did talk to
him, some truths about him had become apparent. She began to notice, even though she was
been told before by her friends, that he had a number of vices, one of which was his
gambling, something which she didn't notice until they got married.

He often borrowed money from her to spend at racehorse tracks and almost always lost.
Another was his drinking problem, which led to his irresponsibility. On return to the farm
as its new owner, he organised a wedding celebration at which he got himself and all the
simple rest i.e. the workers drunk. As a result, it was up to Bathsheba and Gabriel to
save the ricks from burning while everybody was sleeping. These showed his true nature as
an inadequate husband, thinking that he didn't have to bother flirting with Bathsheba
anymore now that they were married.

His final vice, and it turned out to be the most important, was his love of women. As
Liddy has told Bathsheba, he was a "womaniser" who had "countless women under his thumb"
and didn't care a bit about how they felt, as long as he got what he wanted, especially
when it came to leaving them. It became apparent later it the novel that his one true love
was indeed Fanny Robin, the girl he had left for dead. When he tried to pay back the debt
he felt he owed her by buying a gravestone for her, as well as laying flowers by her
graveside, the weather destroyed what he had done, leaving him to believe that because of
his abandonment of her he had been damned forever, and even worse he now abandoned a
second woman, his wife Bathsheba.

When he disappeared after he had been presumed dead, he did not return for at least seven
months and this shows his lack of concern for Bathsheba. At one point before this, he had
become bored with her, and even said this to her face, "You are nothing to me - nothing,"
showing that he was not serious enough about their marriage.

The second character in the novel which I shall look at is Farmer William Boldwood who is
a great contrast to Troy, a first he seemed not to care for Bathsheba at all. From the
time when Boldwood had ignored her in the market-place, until he sent the Valentine card
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