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The second letter is written by Fanny Robin, a young girl who used to be a maid on Bathsheba’s farm, but ran away with Frank Troy, a soldier who she intended to marry. The letter was supposed to be given to Gabriel. In it she thanks him for his kindness on the night she left Weatherbury. She also says ‘I am going to be married to the man who has courted me for some time – Sergeant Troy’ and ‘I should be much obliged if you would keep the contents of this letter a secret for the present. ‘ I think that she asked for it to be kept as a secret because she knows that Boldwood thinks so little of Troy.
This is shown when Gabriel asks him what sort of man Troy is because Boldwood says ‘I’m afraid not one to build much hope upon in a case such as this. ‘ Gabriel shows Boldwood the letter because he knows that Boldwood cares for Fanny – he looked after her when she was little. Fanny obviously feels certain that Troy will marry her whereas Boldwood does not trust her in the slightest and is expecting Troy to let her down. He is disappointed and says ‘Silly girl – silly girl’. This is because in the letter she seems so happy, and he hates the idea of her getting hurt. Boldwood tries to help Fanny as much as he can.
He speaks to Troy because he has an idea which will stop Fanny getting hurt. He says to Troy ‘Marry Fanny. I’ll make it worth your while’, ‘I’ll settle a sum of money upon her, and I’ll see that you don’t suffer from poverty in the future’. He offers Troy five hundred and fifty pounds to marry Fanny. On Bathsheba’s farm, a crisis occurred, all of her sheep escaped into a clover field and became bloated. The only way that they can be saved is by being lanced in the stomach in a specific place. The only man with the expertise and the equipment to do this is Gabriel, but he had been fired.
Bathsheba sends someone to get him, but when the messenger returns Gabriel is not with him. ‘He says he shall not come onless you request en to come civilly and in a proper manner, as comes any ‘ooman begging a favour. ‘ Bathsheba then says ‘Shall I beg to someone who has begged to me? ‘ This shows that she is stubborn. But her sheep were getting worse by the minute so she wrote a note that said ‘do not desert me, Gabriel’ and Gabriel arrived. He cured all of the sheep for her, so she swallowed her pride and offered him his job back,. He simply says ‘I will’ and she smiles. The next letter is the third important letter in the story.
It is written by Bathsheba, and sent to Boldwood. She wrote that her final decision was that she could not marry him. This was because she had just met Frank Troy and fallen in love with him. Writing the letter was extremely cowardly because if she was going to turn him down she should at least have the courage to tell him herself, face to face not just leave a message on paper. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the next evening Boldwood returned so she deliberately tried to avoid him as to not have to discuss the contents of the note. She apparently didn’t realise that she was going to have to face up to Boldwood eventually.
She ended up bumping into Boldwood a lot sooner than she could have imagined because that night the two met on Yalbury Hill. We are told that Boldwood’s manner was ‘stunned and sluggish’ so we can safely assume that he has already read the note. Whilst talking to Boldwood, Bathsheba was unsettled because Boldwood’s life appeared to be in a mess and she knew that it was all her fault. He says ‘I should have lived in if you had not attracted me by that letter – valentine you call it’ and she obviously regrets sending the valentine because she says ‘I have bitterly repented of it’ and ‘can you still go on reminding me?
‘ She apologises to him for sending the valentine and says she pity’s him, but it is too late, she has already hurt him incredibly. He finds it extremely hard to accept that she does not love him, and even though she has told him that she does not love him and will not marry him many times, he still says ‘Say, Bathsheba, that you only wrote that refusal to me in fun’ and ‘It isn’t because you have no feeling in that you don’t love me’ trying to persuade her to change her mind. The final letter in this novel is Gabriel’s letter of resignation.
Bathsheba is at the grave of Fanny and Troy and is very depressed, just as Gabriel comes to see her. He tells her ‘I may soon have to give up the management of your farm, Mrs Troy. The fact is, I am thinking of leaving England. ‘ After hearing this Bathsheba cry’s ‘Leaving England! ‘ in ‘surprise and genuine disappointment’. This is awful news for Bathsheba who says ‘what shall I do without you? ‘ She began to think of Gabriel a lot, and she sincerely wished that he wasn’t going to leave.
A few weeks later Bathsheba received a formal letter which asks her ‘not to renew his engagement with her’ She decided to pay Gabriel a visit. She was upset because she thought that the letter meant that he had decided to leave, when what the letter really meant was that he wanted to marry her. The story ends with Bathsheba and Gabriel getting married. Each of the four letters have a major effect on the lives of the characters involved. However a couple of the letters were not the best decisions for the characters to make.
For example, the letter that Bathsheba sent Boldwood wasn’t really necessary because she shouldn’t really have gone so long without making a final decision, and Boldwood should have accepted that she didn’t want to marry him. He should also have been told that it was a joke right from the start. In the end it was only to be expected that Bathsheba and Gabriel would get married because he showed an interest in her right from the start, and she must have liked him and respected him because she always turned to him for advice. Paul Liscio ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ by Thomas Hardy Y10.