Bathsheba is a beautiful young female farmer who gets noticed by everyone (men that is) and loves being the centre of attention. This is what is happening at the corn-market in Casterbridge. Bathsheba is not interested in anyone but enjoys the interest that everyone gives her. However she is aware that one person isn’t taking any notice of her, yet she feels a slight attraction. “A very good-looking man, upright about forty,” is how she describes this mysterious man. He is Farmer Boldwood, but Bathsheba doesn’t know this. When Boldwood comes to the door Bathsheba is already curious.
She doesn’t even know him, nor has she ever met him but she is already questioning who he is and thinking of the possibility of marriage to him. The following is a quotation taken from the book when Boldwood comes to Bathsheba’s door and her maid answers it. “Who is Mr. Boldwood? ” said Bathsheba. “A gentleman – farmer at Upper Weatherbury. ” “Married? ” “No, Miss. ” “How old is he? ” “Forty I should say – very handsome – rather stern looking. ” “What a bother this dusting is! I am always in some unfortunate plight or other,” Bathsheba said complainingly…
This shows that Bathsheba almost has an imaginary checklist in her mind ticking off all the positive things; Boldwood is a gentleman, which means he is rich, he is middle aged, and handsome. This makes her annoyed, as she was unavailable to answer the door when he knocked. He is also kind as he looked after a child called Fanny. She also finds out that many girls have tried to court him but none have been successful, so she tries to court him as an achievement and likes the idea of a challenge. Bathsheba doesn’t like the idea that Boldwood didn’t pay any attention to her whilst at the market.
Nor does he pay any attention to her when in church, even though their pews are opposite each other. This was the third occasion that Boldwood had ignored her. Bathsheba wasn’t used to this and couldn’t stand the idea of it. Later Bathsheba, with Liddy, wrote out a Valentine’s card. This was initially for Teddy Coggan, but then Liddy suggests that Bathsheba should address it to Boldwood as a joke. Bathsheba takes this chance of sending the card to Boldwood. After all, everyone bows down to her beauty except for him, and she wants to know why. She doesn’t realise what damage this could do.
She is playing with people’s emotions for her needs. She doesn’t think that Boldwood would see the humour in it but because Liddy is persistent Bathsheba goes as long with the prank and so they toss a bible; if the bible is open, then the Valentine is sent to Teddy, if the bible remains shut, then to Boldwood. Unfortunately the bible remains shut. They, Bathsheba and Liddy, then seal the Valentine with the only seal that is working. Without any concern of what harm is to be done and what false impression Boldwood is about to get, the Valentine was sent with a seal reading “MARRY ME.
” Liddy and Bathsheba laughed as they thought it added more realism to the prank. The Valentine was addressed to Boldwood and later sent. “So very idly and unreflectingly was this deed done. Of love, as a spectacle Bathsheba had a fair knowledge; but of love subjectively she knew nothing. ” This quotation from the book sums up Bathsheba. Bathsheba would recognise love if she saw it between two people, but she herself has never been and has never known the feeling of love and how it can affect someone emotionally.
Bathsheba never really meant to send the card, but after Liddy suggested playing the prank, Bathsheba had played a major part in it. It was a decision she had to make on the spur of the moment. She decided to send it basically to see what Boldwood’s reaction would be. She is so vain and loves the attention she gets from all the men in the village and so she also wants Boldwood’s attention. She will never be in love with him; she just wants to know that he wants her. Just to know that Boldwood wants something he cannot have, so that she feels a sense of power and domination that men usually have over women.
She doesn’t realise that she is about to lead Boldwood into a false sense of love and hope that he may still have a chance to of getting married even at his age. Bathsheba is not in the least bit in love with him. All that she wants is another man to propose to her so that she can say that she has been proposed to on several occasions and that every man wants her but they cannot have her. She may be beautiful but she knows it and wants everyone around her to recognise it. This is her biggest and most dangerous fault, vanity, which Gabriel Oak and several others have recognised.
The gatekeeper mentions how beautiful Bathsheba is, but Oak makes a passive acceptance with constraints. This quotation from the book describes what Oak thinks of Bathsheba: “That’s a handsome maid,” he said to Oak. “But she has her faults,” said Oak. “True, farmer. ” “And the greatest of them is- well, what it is always. ” “Beating people down two pence: ay, ’tis true. ” “O no. ” “What, then? ” Oak perhaps a little piqued by the comely traveller’s indifference, glanced back to where he had witnessed her performance over the hedge, and said “Vanity. ” Gabriel had only known this as he had witnessed an event.
Bathsheba had taken out a mirror for no reason whatsoever, but to simply observe herself and her beauty. She was daydreaming and had another of her foolish, romantic longings. She thought of how many men will fall for her. This quotation from the book describes the event as follows “She simply observed herself as a fair product of Nature in a feminine direction – her expression seeming to glide into far off though likely dramas in which men would play a part – vistas of probable triumphs – the smiles being of a phase suggesting that hearts were imagined as lost and won. ” Bathsheba likes Boldwood but she does not want him.
She doesn’t want to be his possession or anyone else’s for that matter. She is too independent, and she thinks that as long as she doesn’t get married, she doesn’t have to be a man’s possession, she doesn’t realise that to actually get married you need a man. Bathsheba also likes the novelty of being absolute mistress of a farm and farmhouse and the novelty hasn’t worn off yet. When Boldwood finally found out that his “secret admirer” was Bathsheba, the consequences were dangerous. Boldwood became obsessive which had followed initial curiosity. He takes the proposal of marriage very seriously.
He reacts like this because of the sort of man he is, humourless, doesn’t see anything as a joke, a plain and lonely middle-aged man with no experience of women. Boldwood then confronts Bathsheba and makes a proposal of marriage, refusing to take no for an answer. This is because he has never had the opportunity like this and he is a very grave man. All this time his curiosity and passion has been kept under control but he is now ready to explode. He takes the proposal of marriage very seriously. He sees no humour in the valentine whatsoever. This obsession leads him to ruins.