Examine the nature of their relationship with particular emphasis on revealing how Gabriel Oak “Educates” Bathsheba Everdeme until she becomes the character that is truly worthy of him. Gabriel Oak and Bathsheba Everdeme are two very contrasting characters. During the course of the book this contrast slowly disintegrates until Bathsheba is worthy of Gabriel. This division between the characters is seen most clearly at the start of the book. When observing each person’s initial descriptions, it is easy to see that they are both interested in different things and are very different people.
They both have different aspirations and live two very different ways of life. In many parts of the book, Bathsheba’s pride seems to separate the characters the most. It also creates a barrier to her moral insight. Not only this, but Bathsheba is a rather restless individual, hungering for social advancement. She is a in a false search of romance and does not wish to lead a slow life. She requires wooing and a man that can surprise and impress her. Unfortunately Bathsheba is impressed by the wrong qualities. This view of the ideal man changes as the book progresses, as a “black hearted” man hurts her.
At first, she wishes for a man that will take notice of her and tell her that she is beautiful. This is a result of her insecurity and vanity and is heightened by the fact that she is always in search for people to admire and befriend her. For this reason, she takes great care in her appearance and looks. The book promotes this point by focusing on Bathsheba’s physical beauty, rather than inner beauty. One of the quotes, ‘she is a woman in a man’s world’ suggests that Bath has a confident and strong aura, with many of the characteristics of a male. ‘She rides like a man. ‘ Bath is a very independent woman and is very self-assertive.
Evidence of this is her entrance to a man’s world. She has a position of authority when she is running the farm and a job such as this was rare for a woman in those times. “The handsome girl. ” Despite this insecurity, in many aspects of her personality, she is a strong woman. Another of Bathsheba’s faults can be perceived in her reply of marriage to Oak. It is of a superficial nature. It is an insensitive reply that does not take into consideration the emotions and feelings of Oak. “Why if I’d wanted you, I shouldn’t have run after you like this; ‘twould have been the forwardest thing!
But there was no harm in correcting a piece of false news”. Her vanity and stupidity is also expressed in the reply as she talks of her “having a dozen” boyfriends. It seems that it is just physical attraction between these young men, but Bathsheba sees nothing wrong in this and speaks about it openly. Gabriel Oak is not a man that will constantly express his love and excite Bathsheba’s wild personality. However, he is a man that obtains the genuine qualities for love. In him, hardy has embodied the values, which he sees as worthwhile and expressed these virtues in the form of Gabriel Oak.
These are such things as good will, honesty, morals, sincerity, and loyalty and are devout of any superficiality. An example of his loyalty is in the malt house where Oak is prepared to defend the good name of Bathsheba, even though she has hurt him and grieved him. “Mark,” said Gabriel sternly,”none of that dalliance talk… that smack and coddle style of yours about miss Everdene. Oak is a character that represents moral good and is a destructor of evil. Signs of this are shown when he saves Bathsheba’s farm on the numerous occasions. I would say that Oaks ability to put out the fire and save Baths farm has a symbolic meaning.
Fire is a tool of the devil and a bringer of evil. Oak is able to fight against this evil and does so by protecting Bathsheba. It is for this reason that he is called Gabriel. Oak is compared to a bringer of good. “Thank him for the great service that he has done”. Oak is also at a complete distinction to Hardy’s modern world of urbanisation. He is in-tune with nature. Examples of this are found when Gabriel reads the time using the stars. He does not need man made tools or any product of the urban world. Oak is in harmony with nature. “He stood and carefully examined the sky to as certain the time of night from the altitudes of the stars”.
Oak is a natural production, created by God. He is not tainted by the artificial world, which the many people of that society had become riveted by. Gabriel resembles this wood oak, in that he is strong, reliable and contains an immense sense of honesty. An example of this simplicity and honesty comes across in his quarrel with Bathsheba. Oak ends up expressing his true feelings and emotions and does not hide anything. Oak replies in a blunt, straightforward manner. “I mean this, that if Mr Boldwood really spoke of marriage I bain’t going to tell a story and say he didn’t to please you.
I have already tried to please you too much for my own good”. Also, while he is arguing over the subject of her treatment of Boldwood, he is not afraid to tell her that she was foolish and insensitive and what she had done is wrong. “That is unworthy of any thoughtful and comely and meek woman”. However, when he tells her this, it angers her, as she cannot bear to be criticised. She ends up making a rash and harsh decision and throws Oak off the farm. She refuses to believe that boldwood’s state of mind was her own doing. “I cannot allow any man to-to criticise my private conduct!
” Gabriel is as God designed us to be, and has no resemblance to the people of the cities. He does not toy with others emotions and neither does he tell a lie. This is why he expresses to Bathsheba that what she has done is wrong and that she is responsible for Boldwoods state of mind. As a result of her wounded pride, she dismisses him from the farm. However, when her sheep eat too much clover, it is recognised throughout the neighbourhood that he is the only man who can sort out this problem. He is put above other shepherds and his great skill is recognised here.
Bath knows this but her pride prevents her from calling the assistance of Oak. It is a stubborn streak in her character arising out of pride, which is reminiscent in sergeant Troy. Eventually she realises that she must choose between her sheep or her pride and sends a messenger saying that he “must” come. However, oak’s intention is that to teach her a lesson and sends back the messenger demanding that Bathsheba asks “civilly”. Oak and Bath’s relationship is quite unsettled. It suggests that her father was a womaniser, and because of this, I believe that she created an image on what a man should be.