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In ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’, Thomas Hardy examines different types of love. Consider the relationships Bathsheba has with Gabriel, Boldwood and Troy; consider also Troy’s relationship with Fanny Robin. What conclusions does Thomas Hardy wish us to draw about the nature of love? Support the points you make with close reference to the text. You must also mention the social context of the novel and any relevant literary tradition. Bathsheba is a very vain woman who likes to think very highly of herself, in the first appearance she makes in the novel, she is admiring herself in the mirror.
The last word in Chapter 1 is ‘vanity’. Hardy has established some of the features of two of the main characters and made us curious about this development of the relationship between Oak and this vain but handsome girl. Bathsheba was not a conventional woman of her time. She was an unusual for a woman of her time because she was very independent. She also refused her first offer of marriage although penniless and living with her aunt. Women at this time relied heavily on marriage. Women at that time often also married for security.
Bathsheba is quite teasing with men, for example, when Gabriel Oak holds her hand, she suggests: “But I suppose you are thinking you would like to kiss it? You may if you want to. ” But when Gabriel says, “I will. ” She instantly says, “No you wont! ” This shows that she is teasing, and she can get some men crazy about her. Her relationship with Gabriel has its ups and downs. Gabriel cares for Bathsheba so much but as the novel goes on, Gabriel realizes that there is no chance that he will marry Bathsheba because two other obstructions are in the way, the similarly vain Sergeant Troy and Mr.
Boldwood. Bathsheba’s relationship with Mr. Boldwood is very awkward because, she only sent the valentine letter as a prank. It all started off when Liddy and Bathsheba were writing a Valentine letter to ‘little Teddy Coggan’. But Liddy suggests, “What fun it would be to send it to the stupid old Boldwood, and how he would wonder! ” Bathsheba does not agree to the idea at first and says, “No, I won’t do that. He wouldn’t see any humour in it. ” She was right.
But Boldwood takes it so seriously and becomes absolutely obsessed with her, “My life is a burden without you, I want you – I want you to let me say I love you again and again! ” When Bathsheba tells him the truth about the Valentines card, Boldwood does not want to and cannot accept the fact that it was a joke and a prank: “No, no, no. Don’t say thoughtlessness! Make me think it was something more – that it was a sort of prophetic instinct – the beginning of a feeling that you would like me. ” Then Troy comes into the novel.
During that period of time, there were strict rules governing the etiquette of behaviour about men and women being alone together and they certainly would not publicly touch each other or their clothes. This makes their meeting highly irregular. Bathsheba would be particularly vulnerable in this situation. Troy is similarly vain and teasing like Bathsheba, this enchants her, “Thank you for the sight of such a beautiful face! ” He also often repeats the word, “Beauty” aimed obviously at Bathsheba. When they depart after their first ‘encounter’, she is very happy and feels flattered.
She looks in the mirror (as usual) and repeats Troy’s words, “Goodnight … beauty! ” Bathsheba is aware of her beauty, and she feels that if some handsome man in uniform compliments her on her looks, then that is very rewarding for her and it boosts her self-confidence. Also, Troy’s showmanship with his sword swept Bathsheba off her feet. Also, because Bathsheba would have been very nai?? ve and inexperienced in the ways of love, she found it very hard to resist Troy. Bathsheba and Troy’s relationship, was more of a sexual love than a real love: “She felt powerless to withstand or deny him.
He was altogether too much for her. ” Another sign of Bathsheba’s vanity was that, she only married Troy because he had said he saw a more beautiful woman. So, Bathsheba went all the way to Bath just for Troy. But later on in the novel, Troy does not show that same feelings as when they first met. Instead, Troy becomes more involved into Fanny Robin and regrets ever turning her down. The type of love Fanny Robin loves Troy with all her heart; she even walks miles just for him. Many young women in the Victorian times would have eloped to marry soldiers.
This was called ‘Scarlet fever’. This would be a disgrace to the girl and her family. Hardy’s aunt Martha was said to have eloped with a soldier When she asks Troy when they will be wed, Troy does not even understand what she is talking about. Fanny asks, “When will it be? ” Troy then asks “What? ” Then Fanny tries to remind Troy, “That you promised. ” Troy again, forgetful, “I don’t quite recollect” Then Fanny desperately says, “O you do! Don’t speak like that. It weighs me to the earth. It makes me say what ought to be said first by you. ”
Fanny wants to get desperately married, but Troy wants her mainly for sex and for more of a ‘casual’ relationship. Troy gets very angry and upset when he sees the coffin with Fanny Robin and the baby in it. Tragically, Fanny died of childbirth. The baby was still born. Many deaths occurred due to lack of technology including childbirth. He completely forgets about what he had with Bathsheba and thinks of what he could have had with Fanny. Troy’s reaction to her death and his disregard for Bathsheba shows he is the type of man who only wants what he cannot have.
When Fanny was alive, Troy showed little interest in her predicament. I think that the message Thomas Hardy is trying to get out is that love can only be true, not just for jokes and pranks (the valentines letter. ) Love also has to have two people involved not like Fanny Robin and Troy at the start of the novel. In conclusion, Hardy ended the novel happily, because he knew that is what the readers wanted to read. The story was printed into a monthly magazine and for a Victorian readership; a happy end involved a marriage.
Bathsheba was first attracted by Troy’s good looks and superficial charm and preferred these qualities to the more traditional ones of security and love offered by Oak and Boldwood. But when Fanny dies, Bathsheba finally realizes that Troy’s is actually a womanizer and he is disloyal. Hardy, himself did not rate marriage very highly as he had an unhappy marriage. So by the end of the novel, Bathsheba becomes more sensitive to others and realizes that she should have accepted Oak’s initial proposal, rather than Troy’s, and that she would have been much happier with Oak.