In Far from the Madding Crowd, the main theme of the novel is based upon the value of true love. Bathsheba and Gabriel are the most significant characters in the book. The book constantly revolves around Bathsheba and how she changes the lives of three men forever. Her charms, vanity and the way in which she entraps men leaves one man shot and another locked in prison. All the way through the novel she contradicts the role of women in the nineteenth century and she does not follow the same ways of life as the other women.
All the way through the novel the reader hopes Gabriel and Bathsheba will be together by the use of fate and allusions and the aspects of true love that Hardy explores. When Gabriel and Bathsheba first meet, he sees a carriage with her sitting on it. Gabriel heads up to the carriage and sees that there is a dispute over the toll. The reader can tell Gabriel seems to be interested in Bathsheba as he watches her carefully in her carriage and observes everything she does.
When Bathsheba refuses to pay the gatekeeper Gabriel approaches and gives the keeper the money and makes his first judgement upon Bathsheba which is an important one as lets the reader see how her character changes: “That’s a handsome maid…. But she has her faults… Vanity” Sometime later Oak sees Bathsheba riding through his plantation and sees her lying on the horse while riding it with out side-saddle riding which reveals herself in a way that she would not around other people. She does not know that he is watching.
It also shows that she may not act like a proper lady in the days. Oak now knows he is in love with Bathsheba and hence the plot of the story thickens, as Hardy has introduced the theme of love into this pastoral novel. Gabriel Oak now decided to ask for Bathsheba’s hand in marriage. Gabriel asked Bathsheba’s aunt if she had any other “young men hanging about her at all? ” Bathsheba’s aunt plays a joke upon Farmer Oak by saying yes. Gabriel being a simplistic man leaves, as he believes there is no hope for him. Bathsheba chases after him and corrects his disbeliefs.
Gabriel mistakes this as a sign of her actually wanting him which shows Gabriel’s naivety. Gabriel tells Bathsheba he is doing all right in life now and he could offer her things like a piano and so forth. Although Bathsheba seems excited by this prospect she “would hate to be thought men’s property in that way” She likes the idea of marriage but she doesn’t want the responsibilities afterwards. She believes she needs to be “tamed”. Bathsheba also believes Gabriel is not right for her. Gabriel gives up and then says: “Very well… Then I’ll ask you no more”
These two characters end up splitting up for a while as Bathsheba goes to Weatherbury to reclaim her inheritance from her uncle. Gabriel unfortunately loses his whole flock of sheep as they fell to their death off a cliff. Although this unfortunate tragedy happens to Gabriel, he does get another job as he accidentally falls to sleep in a carriage and gets taken to Weatherbury. This all shows how Hardy explores the use of fate into the novel. When he wakes he sees a barn on fire. Being the kind natured man he is, he runs over and helps.
He instantly rounds up the other people who work on the farm and takes control of the situation and puts out the fire. Bathsheba looks from a distance at the stranger helping her other workers putting out the fire. Bathsheba calls the stranger over and offers him a job. Bathsheba unveils her self and looks astonished, as the stranger is Gabriel. This is Hardy’s first use of fate to bring these characters together in the end and it is how he works the theme of true love as things happen by chance. After sometime Bathsheba sacks her bailiff and decides to manage her farm by herself.
This shows how Bathsheba does not need help and it shows that she is contradicting the role of women in the nineteenth century as any other woman would have a man to help her but her independence is what Hardy uses to show disregard of how women were supposed to act. A new character is in introduced by Hardy called Farmer Boldwood who is a very successful farmer. Farmer Boldwood is portrayed as a perfect gentleman. He is well respected and liked by the men in the village. Bathsheba changes this mans life for ever as his obsessive love leads him to shooting a man dead for her.