Far From The Madding Crowd – Character Study; Farmer Oak. In the first chapter of “Far From the Madding Crowd” the main protagonist is introduced, his name, Farmer Oak. Instantly the reader is given some detail of his personality, thought implicit, his name “Oak” suggests he is of a strong and tough nature like the Oak tree. It also tells us of his enduring character like the strong oak tree, which has a touch outer bark, enduring the elements. However only a few lines on the reader is told of his Christian name “Gabriel”.
This name let’s the reader think that Farmer Oak yet tough has a softer and more angelic side as the name has biblical references to Gabriel, the messenger Angel sent to God to tell Mary of her miraculous childbirth. Farmer Oak is said to be a “young man of sound judgement” with “easy motions” and “proper dress”. Early on in the Chapter Farmer Oak receives a very positive review from Hardy however further on we are told that on Sundays (church going day) he had “misty views” and that as a religious person he lay in the space of “Laodicean”.
This shows that Oak, like other people, has faults. He gets easily bored in church and is a “lukewarm” Christian. Hardy writes this without much distain for Oak, I believe it adds realism to Oak otherwise he would be a perfect figure without any faults but instead he is a normal human being. Next he is described as having a “pepper-and-salt” personality, a mix of both good and bad, but who doesn’t? We are told that he has a watch which told the minutes “with precision” but the hour hand was not always perfect.
This shows us that in Farmer Oak’s line of work, farming he needs to know when his animals need to be fed and other menial tasks but he is not bothered about the “grand scheme of things” that is to say the far future is not too important to him. Farmer Oak does not live or follow the stereotypic modern city life where every second of every hour counts. His character so far sounds very old and old fashioned however Hardy clarifies that he indeed is still young. He had “some relics of the boy”, Oak still has some boyish charm about him and he is not old even if he holds older fashioned morals and views he is still “twenty-eight and a bachelor”.
When meeting Bathsheba for the first time, Oak notices her beauty but also her incredible vainness which he did not like, Oak is in now way obsessed with material objects unlike Bathsheba. However in this meeting Oak’s good side shines through, he pays for Bathsheba to pass the toll gate which reflects his good nature mentioned above. Oak is described as being a tiny frame when compared to his large world where he lives and also, though young he understand the positioning of the stars and use them like a road map to find his way home. To conclude Oak appears a stable and well rounded character with small faults like every other person.