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‘ Although this may portray him as being practical, he does not wear any clothes that are flamboyant. He is also foolishly and naively presumptuous, expecting Bathsheba to say yes the instant he asks her to marry him. He thinks that the pursuit of love is a simple and straightforward affair; but in this novel he discovers the opposite is true. However, Oak is a ‘young man of sound judgement,’ being honest and hard working. For example, he immediately discerns Bathsheba’s character that of being ‘vain. ‘ He even knows about Troy’s character, warning Bathsheba of this, but she takes no notice.
He is very practical and trustworthy, being able help out in a crisis like that of Bathsheba’s where there her hayricks were on fire. Unfortunately, she does not realise that Troy is tricking her and that Oak is the right one for her through his ways. She is too ‘vain’ to realise this and that is why she falls into Troy’s trap. She refuses to marry Oak because she wants excitement and, therefore, she marries Troy who is just tricking her. Otherwise, Oak is the right one overall out of the three men. Oak has a high social status and receives respect because he is a farmer.
If we look at Oaks history we will find that he has never experienced love or a sort of relationship similar to that of Bathsheba’s and Troy’s. However, he is in a way wise in this case because he advises Bathsheba not to marry Troy. We, as the readers, know that what Oak is saying is right because we have seen what Troy was like with Fanny. However, because Oak has never had a relationship like this before, Bathsheba feels that it would be foolish listening to Oak. Therefore, she refuses to listen to Oak in chapter 29 and continues to marry Troy.
Oak does warn her that ‘he is not good enough for’ her and tells her not to trust Troy due to her not knowing Troy very well. She knows what he says is right, but she does not want to hear it. Bathsheba also likes the fact that he is very well educated and that he is a soldier where she likes his looks – ‘I must say that Sergeant Troy is an educated man and quite worthy of any women. ‘ We can see from this that Bathsheba is deluding herself. Troy is extremely wealthy and as a consequence he enjoys throwing money around. This is another factor that Bathsheba likes.
However, little does she realise is that Troy has had relationships with many other women, including Fanny, and upholds a bad reputation. When having the conversation with Oak she mentions that she likes the fact that Troy goes to church – ‘He is very particular, too, about going to church – yes he is! ‘ However, Oak mentions that nobody has ever seen Troy at church before, but Bathsheba says that Troy told her that he goes in privately and sits at the back. This shows that Troy lies to her a lot, but because he had lured her into his trap she will believe anything that she tells her.
When Bathsheba tells Oak this, she tells him ‘eagerly,’ showing that because she loves Troy so much she is really trying to back up Troy. So we can see that there is no way where Oak would be able to persuade Bathsheba that Troy is not the right one until she sees for herself. Due to Bathsheba’s fondness for Troy the relationship between her and Troy deepens into romance where they both marry. The relationship is deepened by some of the things that Troy does as discussed earlier such as the time when he shows off his sword skill to Bathsheba, when he kisses her and when she helps him put on the veil.
Her relationship declines with Oak, however, thus leaving him out of the picture. Her relationship with Boldwood is quite weak too. We notice this through various ways, one of them being their actions. The actions that actually do occur between Boldwood and Bathsheba are out of mere duty when she moves into Weatherbury Farm. It his duty to welcome new comers just like Bathsheba, not because he is interested in her. This shows that they do not have any physical attraction between each other. However, the relationship between her and Troy declines rapidly once they marry.
There are several factors that cause this rapid decline in the relationship. One of the factors is that he often borrowed money from her to spend at racehorse tracks and almost always lost. Another was his drinking problem, which led to his irresponsibility. On return to the farm as its new owner, he organised a wedding celebration at which he got himself and all the workers drunk. He had a love of women. As Liddy has told Bathsheba, he was a ‘womaniser’ who had ‘countless women under his thumb’ and didn’t care a bit about how they felt, as long as he got what he wanted, especially when it came to leaving them.
It became apparent later in the novel that his one true love was indeed Fanny Robin, the girl he had left for dead. When he tried to pay back the debt he felt he owed her by buying a gravestone for her, as well as laying flowers by her graveside, the weather destroyed what he had done, leaving him to believe that because of his abandonment of her he had been damned forever, and even worse he now abandoned a second woman, his wife Bathsheba. When he disappeared after he had been presumed dead, he did not return for at least seven months and this shows his lack of concern for Bathsheba.
At one point before this, he had become bored with her, and even said this to her face: ‘You are nothing to me – nothing,’ showing that he was not serious enough about their marriage. Her relationship with Oak, however, increases because he helps her whenever there is a crisis, thus allowing Bathsheba to trust him even more. This also helps her to realise that she made an unwise decision in marrying Troy, especially because he abandons her. Oak sees the weakness of Bathsheba’s relationship with Troy and realises how incompetent at running the farm Troy is.
Troy ends up controlling most aspects of the farm and ignoring Bathsheba’s wishes even though he is uncertain of what he is doing. Bathsheba married Troy between jealously and distraction and it is clear that she is discontent with him as a husband. With a storm brewing and the men drunk Oak covers the hayricks with Bathsheba helping him but when lightning strikes they are in the barn, together as they should be. She knows that Gabriel Oak will always love her, be there for her, and she thanks him for his devotion.
Bathsheba is now able to see that Oak is the right one to marry and so she does when he is the only one left as discussed at the beginning. She also married him because she doesn’t want to be left alone until she dies. This shows that she has matured now because she makes a right decision of marrying Oak, realising that she should have married him in the first place instead of marrying Troy. At first we see Bathsheba’s immaturity, which is seen when she sends a valentine to Boldwood as a joke.
She is also seen as being capricious where she goes from one man to another: ‘hearts were imagined as lost and won. ‘ She gives the impression of not being wise enough to discern Troy’s character. However, Bathsheba soon becomes mature and wise towards the end of the novel where she eventually realises that Oak is the man she should marry. From all the above we can see who of these three male suitors was right for Bathsheba and why he was. That man is Gabriel Oak, who loved her genuinely, tenderly and patiently from the moment he first saw her to the very last line of the book.
He had never given up on her, had never let her be harmed in anyway and always gave her advice which was sound and right, even if she refused to accept it. In the end, Bathsheba admitted to him that if he had only been more forward then he would have been the first choice if it had even come to that. Troy was obviously the worst possible husband for her because of his gambling, drinking and womanising vices, but mainly because he still loved Fanny Robin.
Bathsheba had just been a passing fancy whom he quickly got tired of. Boldwood’s relationship with Bathsheba was much more genuine and acceptable at the start but tragically it became a fatal obsession for poor desperate Boldwood. Gabriel’s relationship with her was a lengthy one, tried and tested, totally unselfish. Bathsheba was indeed very fortunate that Gabriel was patient enough to wait until she matured enough to recognise his good qualities. As in most good stories, the best man wins in the end.