Bathsheba Everdene’s Strengths And Weaknesses in Far from the Madding Crowd and how most of them are shown in our first encounter with Bathsheba in the first chapter at the incident at the toll gate. Robbie Deffense 11AB In Thomas Hardy’s “Far from the Madding Crowd”, we become acquainted with the leading character, the very independent and vain Bathsheba Everdene. In this essay, I will discuss Bathsheba’s character by attempting to describe her strengths and weaknesses, and show how most of these characteristics are delivered to us on our first encounter with Bathsheba’s in the incident at the tollgate.
Bathsheba Everdene is the young beauty in Hardy’s novel; she comes across as a woman with many strengths and weaknesses. We find that she does not lack beauty; this is a reason why many men desire her. Hardy uses words such as “young and attractive” and “the handsome girl” to transmit Bathsheba’s beauty. To further enforce how Hardy wants us to perceive Bathsheba, Hardy used a name from the Biblical figure who was also named Bathsheba, she too was beautiful and men fell deeply in love with her upon their first gaze.
However, sometimes with such beauty comes a large amount of vanity, which is Bathsheba’s biggest weakness. We first meet Bathsheba Everdene in the incident at the tollgate. Farmer Oak sees an ornamental spring wagon coming down the incline of the field. Walking beside the wagon is a Waggoner with a whip in hand. On the wagon there are household goods and seated is the “young and attractive” Bathsheba. The Waggoner stops the wagon to tell her that the wagons tailboard has gone and she tells him to run back and get it, which he does, which already shows how much power Bathsheba has.
While she waits quietly on the wagon for the Waggoner’s return, she pulls out a mirror and places it on her lap, then proceeds to “survey” herself, then smiles. And the more that she gazes upon herself the more she smiles and the more she blushes. This clearly shows the amount of vanity that Bathsheba possesses. This statement is further proved by the fact that Thomas Hardy describes the fine morning so beautifully and delicately, fully describing the awesome power of nature, but all Miss Everdene is capable of doing is admiring herself.
This is a time when Hardy uses pathetic fallacy, to bring Bathsheba’s characteristic of beauty, by comparing the beauty of nature to the beauty of Bathsheba Everdene. Following this exposure of vanity, the Waggoner returns and they proceed towards the tollgate where an argument arises about the people with the wagon having to pay the tollgate keeper an extra two pence. Knowing that without paying the two pence, she will not be able to pass, Bathsheba still refuses to pay the money. This reaction shows how independent she is. Out of Farmer Oaks kind and generous heart he comes forth and pays the two pence for Bathsheba.
She might have looked at Gabriel to thank him for his generosity but instead she turns to the Waggoner and tells him to drive on. This makes Bathsheba a slightly rude character that seems very unlikable and very egocentric since she wanted something done and she wanted it done her way this is a very immature act but it gives us a chance to see how she matures over the novel. But still being very immature through this action, she is still able to have power over Farmer Oak. This can be seen from two different perspectives, a good and bad .
On the positive side, women in modern times would relate to Bathsheba, since they have raised their position in society; However the female readers at the time when Hardy’s novel “Far from the Madding Crowd” first came out might have been shocked, since Bathsheba character goes very much against the women of the time since she is able and determined to make choices of her own. The novel was published in 1874 and at this time women were very much under the control of men without any independence or ability to make choices for themselves, so Bathsheba Everdene could have been of big importance to the female readers, maybe even a hero.
Also, the story was set before the 1870 Married Women’s Property Act, which allowed women to keep the earnings she made and not have to give it to her husband. However Bathsheba was very much in control of her land and money until she was married to Troy, therefore until that time, she represented a very strong female symbol. After Bathsheba leaves the tollgate and proceeds towards her destination, the keeper turns to Farmer Oak and says “That’s a handsome maid” which further implies how Hardy wants to show how beautiful Bathsheba is.
Then Farmer Oak tells him how she also has one of the most common faults “found in most of them” (referring to women) … “vanity”. Hardy is able to use such a simple word to describe her and such simplicity sticks with us and gives us a clear image of Thomas Hardy wants us to know about Bathsheba. This powerful word, which means feelings of excessive pride, ends the first chapter powerfully giving us a strong first impression of Bathsheba’s character. These are the strengths and weaknesses that Bathsheba possesses and that are shown only in her first impression in the first chapter of the novel.
These characteristics are shown and proven again throughout the novel, for example the fact that she decides to take over her late uncle’s farm in Weatherbury shows that she is clearly independent and this again would’ve been interesting for both the female and male readers at the time, since this novel was showing a women being responsible over a piece of land, which wasn’t common. Also the further fact that she is very hard working and all of the things needed to be done, are done, displays that she has got a very efficient character.
In addition she tries to act very confidently all the time and this is one of her weaknesses because, while she tries to act confidently she isn’t actually that confident. An example of this would be towards the end of the novel, this is when Bathsheba goes to Gabriel’s house to speak to him and she looks up to him in awe and even starts stuttering, this would also be a good example on how Bathsheba develops throughout the novel and how her character and that of Gabriel have switched throughout this novel.
One of the actions that Bathsheba does that proves how her character has matured throughout the entirety of the novel and that makes us feel sorry for and further more like her as person more is the scene wherein Fanny’s dead body lays in Bathsheba’s parlour and Bathsheba has the heart to lay flowers around the body. This small action is very important since it foreshadows the replanting of the grave.
Bathsheba has been kind enough to allow Fanny’s corpse stay inside her house and through this the truth about Troy and Fanny’s relationship is revealed to her. We feel pity and we feel sorry for her because her heart has just been broken and we understand how she feels. Hardy is able to bring up the theme of trust, love and betrayal and involve it in all the characters even including the dead body of Fanny Robin in just one scene.
So to conclude, we can definitely say that Bathsheba Everdene is a character with many strengths but again many weaknesses her strongest being her beauty, independence and vanity and Thomas Hardy is able to bring such strong characteristics in small ways. He is able to make us have different and mixed feelings towards Bathsheba Everdene throughout the novel and makes it hard for us to decide whether she is a likeable or unlikable character in his beautifully romantic but strongly dramatic novel “Far From The Madding Crowd”.