In this essay I would like to evaluate how Hardy represents Bathsheba ?? and ? Fanny, and how he evokes sympathy for them. The plot of Far From the Madding crowd takes place in a fictional county known as Wessex, which is actually Dorset in the South West of England. In this novel, Hardy presents us with an accurate picture of the rural way of life, which was gradually being lost. It is set in 1840 and we are given an insight into the old farm workers communities, the customs of the countryside and the inherited wisdom and the knowledge of generations.
I will start with Bathsheba, we learn that Bathsheba was a vain woman, “woman of Bathsheba’s calibre” She was always aware of how she looked and of what other people thought of her. Bathsheba’s vanity is clarified in the reader’s first view of her, “she blushed at herself. ” She shows her selfish quality which creates vulnerability in her character, although she does not want anyone to be aware of this because she may feel that it makes her look weak or inadequate as an independent women, and farm owner.
She was also a very independent woman who defined the preconceived idea of a woman’s role in the 19th century by inheriting her uncle’s farm, and was successful in running the farm effectively. She adapts well, becoming a “supervising and cool woman” and takes the unconventional step of managing the farm herself without a bailiff. We are also told that Bathsheba was a flirtatious woman and all the suitors regarded her as a valuable object. Bathsheba rejects Gabriel’s first proposal of marriage because she “hates to be thought of as men’s property”, this, we may say again shows Bathshebas vanity.
Hardy evokes a lot of sympathy for Bathsheba, I think, when we hear about the devastating fire on the farm and that her uncle had also died leaving a huge responsibility of a farm to her. It was a knock back as well as a gain. Gabriel Oak was very impressed however how Bathsheba took on and succeeded in the running of the farm “Gabriel was rather staggered by the remarkable coolness of her manner. ” By doing this again she was being unconventional in her actions, but was succeeding in them Hardy evokes sympathy for her by portraying her as a poor, attractive cottage girl.
She had to go against the preconceived idea about woman in the 19th century. By doing this Hardy redefines the role of women in Far from the Madding Crowd, focusing on sexuality. By emphasising the physical aspect of femininity in his unorthodox representation of the sexual female, Hardy threatens the Victorian model of women. This sexuality is evident in the scene when Bathsheba unknowingly admits her passion to Troy, “if you can only fight half as winningly as you can talk, you are able to make a pleasure of a bayonet wound!
” Bathsheba realises her impulsive expression of sexuality and when she attempts “to retrieve it” she worsens the situation by saying “don’t however suppose that I derive any pleasure from what you tell me” Allowing Bathsheba to give us a glimpse of her sexuality. Hardy emphasises and expands the sexual qualities of his female characters. In redefining and revolutionising the 19th century female. Hardy’s passionate heroines display characteristics previously found only in male characters.
Leading on from this the book also tells us a lot about men’s and society’s attitude towards Bathsheba, for example, William Boldwood was a bit demanding of her “My life is a burden without you. ” He was demanding of her because of the valentine that she had sent too him as a joke, but unfortunately Boldwood took it too seriously. From this example we can say that her character also showed signs of unconventional behaviour, that is, it was not normal or stereotypical for a woman to behave in the way that she did.
Another example of a man’s attitude towards Bathshaba was when Troy married her not because of his love for her but for her wealth. By law in the 19th century, upon marriage a woman had to hand over all of her wealth to her new husband, “Bathsheba could you let me have twenty pounds” This again shows that Troy is taking advantage of Bathsheba, by taking her money. By doing this Bathsheba feels out of her depth, she cannot cope with the thought that Troy would use her to finance his own goings on, but she still allows him to have complete control over her because she loves him.
Bathsheba also faced the hardships of society’s attitudes towards her and women in general in the 19th century. A clear example of this was where people did not think that she was capable of successfully owning and managing a farm, “Tisn’t a master, tis a mistress. ” This kind of prejudice and discrimination was frequent in the 19th century because it wasn’t normal or stereotypical for a woman to own a farm and managing it successfully by herself, without the help of a bailiff.
Bathsheba was not your average 19th century woman due to the fact that she was a farmer and that she was a feminist in her own right, “To manage everything with my own head and hands. ” We know that this quote is truthful due to the fact that Bathsheba sacked her bailiff, and by doing the job herself has shown her supreme independence, confidence and what some might say, arrogance. We can also learn more about her character from the meaning of her name. Her first name “Bathsheba” had a biblical reference. Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah who committed adultery with David.