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"His equilibrium disturbed he was in extremity at once." Discuss this view of Farmer Boldwood throughout the novel

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"His equilibrium disturbed he was in extremity at once." Discuss this view of Farmer Boldwood throughout the novel. Throughout "Far From the Madding Crowd we see profound changes in Far Boldwood's character. At the start he is a quiet, aloof, gentlemanly man, yet by the end of the novel he is a crazed, obsessed shadow of his former self. It is Bathsheba Everdene who causes these changes in him. I think the statement "His equilibrium disturbed he was in extremity at once" is an accurate description of what happens to Boldwood. We are first introduced to Boldwood in chapter 9 through second hand information, but then he knocks on Bathsheba's door, at this moment in the book seeming very formal and stern. When he knocks on the door, Mrs Coggan answers it, making excuse about Bathsheba being busy. Boldwood says, "Oh very well, all I wanted to ask was, if anything had been heard of Fanny Robin?". It is obvious that Boldwood shows no interest in Bathsheba at that moment. In chapter twelve Bathsheba goes to the corn exchange, when she arrives every single man turns round to look at her - except Boldwood. He is, as the author describes, a "black sheep". This annoys Bathsheba, as she loves attention and is not used to being ignored by men. It seems at this point that Boldwood has no interest in women. It is in chapter fourteen when Boldwood's "equilibrium" becomes disturbed. As a joke in chapter thirteen, Bathsheba and her servant Liddy sent a Valentine's card with a small poem and the message "Marry Me" written on it to Boldwood. They are completely oblivious to the repercussions this will have. Boldwood becomes transfixed with this valentine, he is always thinking about it despite not wanting to and he starts to become obsessed. This signifies the start of his descent into madness. For most of the night he remains awake, constantly thinking about the valentine and who wrote it. ...read more.


Because of the lateness of the time, and the fact that Boldwood seems an imposing figure with his "stalwart frame" and the "thick cudgel he carried in his hand", Troy decides to oblige him. Boldwood proceeds to offer a business transaction where he will pay Troy fifty pounds if he will marry Fanny Robin. Shortly before this we can see that Boldwood is completely delusional when he says to Troy "If you had not come I should certainly-yes, certainly- have been accepted by this time". Boldwood truly believes it is Troy's fault that he is not married to Bathsheba, and not that fact that Bathsheba does not love or even like him. Troy then plays Boldwood, pretending to accept his proposal until Bathsheba comes out of the house. Their conversation makes it obvious to Boldwood that they are a couple and when Troy returns to him under the pretence of gathering his things, Boldwood becomes angry and grabs Troy by the throat. After a brief conversation Troy manages to change Boldwood's view on the matter, and suddenly Boldwood says "Troy, make her your wife, and don't act on what I arranged just now". From this we can tell Boldwood is not seeing things clearly at all, his opinion changes instantly. Troy teases Boldwood and when he implies he wants more money, the author writes "Boldwood, more like a somnambulist than a wakeful man, pulled out the large canvas bag he carried by way of a purse". This shows that it's almost as if Boldwood is walking around in a dream, when he is awake he seems as if he is sleepwalking. At this point in the novel it is certain that Boldwood is mentally unwell. Troy then shows Boldwood a piece of paper on which it is written that he and Bathsheba married that day. Boldwood is speechless, and Troy condescends to him about him being a hypocrite, and then throws his money back at him. ...read more.


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. ...read more.

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