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This illustrates that he is completely obsessed; he worships the ground she walks on. The news of Troy’s death has once again disturbed Boldwood’s equilibrium, and new hope burns within him. In chapter forty-nine, following the complete ruining of his crops due to his neglectful behaviour, Boldwood appoints Oak to look after his farm. “A great hope had latterly germinated in Boldwood, whose unreasoning devotion to Bathsheba could only be characterized as a fond madness which neither time nor circumstance, evil nor good report, could weaken or destroy.
” In this sentence the Author describes Boldwood’s obsession with Bathsheba, and proves to us that although Boldwood’s hopes could be temporarily subdued, his true feelings were always there. It seems as if his feelings for Bathsheba will last his entire life. Boldwood’s hopes are encouraged when, after talking to Liddy he finds that Bathsheba mentioned remarrying in six years, giving him something to cling onto. Throughout the novel Boldwood thinks constantly about the best possible outcome of a situation.
Liddy saying that Bathsheba once mentioned remarrying slowly evolves in his head into him believing that Bathsheba will marry him in six years. He always tries his best to keep himself hopeful. His waking hours once again become devoted to thinking about Bathsheba. In chapter fifty-one Bathsheba goes on a ride with Boldwood in his cart to Weatherbury after finding herself unable to refuse because Oak, her usual driver, was too busy and Boldwood her only alternative. After awkwardly chatting about mutual interests, Boldwood, unable to resist, bluntly asks “Mrs. Troy, you will marry again some day?
” She is taken aback and a long pause ensues before she says she has not seriously thought of such a subject. Boldwood continues to press her, and is clutching for reassurance when he says, “You never liked me”. Bathsheba then talks about seriously regretting her treatment of him, and Boldwood is desperate and shameless enough to say to her “Bathsheba, suppose you had real complete proof that you are what, in fact, you are-a widow-would you repair the old wrong to me by marrying me? ” These are the words of a truly desperate man; he does not care at all if Bathsheba loves or even likes him, but just wants her to marry him.
His current mental state is worse than ever before. He keeps pressuring her about marrying him in six years’ time and when it seems as if she might decline, he prays on her ill treatment of him in the past, a desperate and dishonourable act. “But do give it, remember the past and be kind” Bathsheba eventually ends up being telling Boldwood she will tell him of her decision at Christmas. This act of Bathsheba’s subdues Boldwood, and as before in this situation he leaves her alone until the promised time because those simple words of hers are enough to comfort him into believing that she will eventually marry him.
It is as if his life itself is centred around Bathsheba, but I think Bathsheba only promised to consider his proposal because she feared for his sanity. In chapter fifty-two Boldwood holds a grand Christmas party, something that is, evidently from the Author’s words, extremely out of character. But Boldwood has sunk so fast towards insanity that his “character” itself has changed dramatically. Boldwood is very expectant of Bathsheba’s answer, and deliriously happy in the build-up to the party. Bathsheba fears the party and having to give Boldwood an answer, and deliberately wears mourning clothes to it.
Boldwood’s cheerful disposition will not be dampened, even when Oak tries to make him more realistic about the situation, to stop him getting his hopes up. But, as has been consistent throughout the novel, Boldwood’s moods and feelings are completely uninfluenced by anyone’s words but Bathsheba’s. Because of Boldwood’s cheerful mood, he increases Oak’s salary, this is mainly due to his knowledge of Oak’s interest in Bathsheba and seems to me like a consolation prize, because through the mental haze that obscures his judgement, he truly believes Bathsheba is his.
It is in chapter fifty-three that Boldwood is finally pushed over the edge. After being verbally beaten into submission, Bathsheba gives her word to marry Boldwood in six years if Troy does not return. Still, this is not quite enough for Boldwood and he requests that she wear a ring he bought for her. The demonic force that appears to be gripping Boldwood as he almost forces the ring onto her finger is too much for Bathsheba, and she begins to cry. Soon after this, Troy arrives at the house and tries to take Bathsheba away and it is at that moment that Boldwood simply erupts – he shoots troy with one of the guns on his gun rack.
The old Boldwood is now completely gone – replaced by a hysterical madman. “When Bathsheba had cried out in her husband’s grasp, Boldwood’s face of gnashing despair had changed. The veins had swollen, and a frenzied look had gleamed in his eye. ” Able to take no more, Boldwood readies himself to commit suicide with the same gun, but is prevented by Samway. In chapter fifty-five the true extent of Boldwood’s obsession with Bathsheba is revealed. He had bought a large number of gifts for he labelled “Bathsheba Boldwood” and dated six years in advance. His very soul was completely consumed with the idea of marrying her.
Boldwood is sentenced to life imprisonment. This novel describes the degeneration of a quiet, reserved and proud man into a crazed, violent and obsessive maniac. Throughout Boldwood’s life a certain equilibrium was preserved, and Bathsheba’s arrival and sending of the valentine disturbed it. He truly was “in extremity at once”. His mental state became more and more unstable until he finally exploded and shot Sergeant Troy. I believe this was the end of Boldwood’s equilibrium, and he would remain mentally ill and preoccupied with the woman he would never have.