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Discuss Hardy's presentation of the theme of love and marriage.

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Introduction

Hardy contrasts both the romantic love of Troy and the obsessive passion of Boldwood with the 'camaraderie' of Bathsheba and Gabriel's final union. " i shall do one thing in this life- one thing certain- that is, love you, and long for you, and keep wanting you till I die." Those sincere words come from Gabriel on his first proposal to Bathsheba at Norcombe Hill. Throughout the story, his love and affection for her remains constant without any element of selfishness in it. He stands by Bathsheba through thick and thin and serves her loyally and faithfully. This is not so much because he is her paid employee but because she is the woman to whom he has given his heart. He supervises her fields and her flocks and protects her interests with a rare devotion. ...read more.

Middle

He says that she is the type of woman with whom hundred men would fall in love. But the climax to this flattery of Bathsheba is reached in his thrusting his gold watch upon her as a gift. Apart from his skill of flattering women, he is a dashing young soldier, an accomplished swordsman. Indeed his sword-play has as much part in captivating the heart of Bathsheba as his flattery. His handsome appearance, his smartness, his dash, his art of conversation and of flattery combines to make him a lady-killer. No woman can resist him. Though Gabriel hints at Troy's immoral character, Bathsheba makes the deaf's ear and later marries him out of "jealousy and distraction." Once married, she is no longer the spirited, scornful and proud individual she used to be. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is obsessed by thoughts of Bathsheba. His passion for her becomes a mania with him. While Gabriel Oak endures his disappointment like a man, to Boldwood, the pain of disappointment is unbearable. For him, love becomes a mental torment, an agony. In fact, his unfulfilled passion drives him crazy. When he learns that Bathsheba has married Troy, he loses all peace of mind and all interest in his work. His neglected ricks are destroyed by the storm just as his own life style is ravaged by the violence of his love. It is not fitting in this story that a character so damagingly extreme and unbalanced should marry the heroine: she belongs to the faithful shepherd. Hardy's portrayal of love is contrastive. Gabriel is a patient, generous and devoted lover while a selfish and unscrupulous passion is shown by Troy and Boldwood. At the end, it's true love that triumphs; thus a happy marriage. ...read more.

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