The immature nineteen-year-old girl called Bathsheba Everdene has lots difficulties throughout the novel. She has some good and bad experiences. These are with three different characters. Bathsheba 'major fault’ is immaturity and Bathsheba also is unaware of her own actions as she leads men on without knowing “‘now find out my name’ said teasingly and withdrew.” In the beginning of the novel Bathsheba is vain, insensitive, egocentric and stubborn. Hardy portrays her as a very beautiful but penniless woman. In the early chapters of the book we discover positive and negative sides of Bathsheba’s character. Firstly when Bathsheba at first comes in she is wearing red, this shows evil or danger. She argues with the tollgate because she doesn’t want to pay, this shows what kind of character she is. Bathsheba gets annoyed that Gabriel paid the money for her; she wanted to get her own way and not pay. “He looked at her, she heard his words, and looked down” As the story unfolds, her character is developed, but it is very clear in the beginning she is a very vain woman when she looks on the mirror and smiles ‘then she parted her lips and smiled’. It is this vanity which makes Bathsheba wants to break Boldwood’s reserve – he is the only man in the Corn Exchange who pays her no attention - which makes her succumb so easily to Troy’s flattery. Her other main characteristic is her impulsiveness – she sends the valentine to Boldwood without thought of the consequences and she dismisses Oak from the farm because he tells her home truths she does not wish to hear. Later, when her sheep are ill, she regrets her impulsiveness and begs him to return and help her. Bathsheba is thoughtless, selfish and very proud of her reputation which can mean that she doesn’t considerate of other people’s feelings “nobody has got me yet as a sweetheart instead of me having a dozen as my aunt said; I hate to be thought men’s property in that way, though possibly I shall be to be had some day. Why, if I’d wanted you I shouldn’t have run after you like this; t’would have been the forwardest thing!” Bathsheba, however, is not the shallow woman that these two characteristics seem to suggest. After refusing Oak’s proposal, Bathsheba inherits a farm and money. This occurrence would give Bathsheba more independence and freedom, so in that way she has changed from the start of the novel. She gradually develops through the novel as she becomes less vain, stubborn, insensitive, and egocentric and becomes more confident, caring and more determined to make her farm work, this shows how her character changes as she looks at the bad things that have happened in her life and tries to put them right. As she progresses through the novel her responsibilities become more demanding. When we first meet Bathsheba she is going to live with her aunt, and is probably dependant upon her. She is an independent and capable woman, as her determined management of her uncle’s farm indicates. She is genuinely sorry when she realises the damage she has done by sending the valentine to Boldwood and is prepared to sacrifice herself to him in a marriage that, at best, would be founded on guilt and duty. Her marriage to Troy is another source of pain – she loves him “I felt powerless to withstand or deny him” and is betrayed by his callousness and self-confessed love for fanny. Hardy makes it clear that there is much to admire in Bathsheba and although her impulsiveness leads her to make two disastrous mistakes – the valentine and her marriage to Troy – she pays dearly for them both. She is changed by the end of the novel – anxious not appear vain when she dresses plainly for Boldwood’s party. These roles make her an independent and successful lady. She also becomes more sensitive and responsible towards men.
Boldwood is a rich farmer who is older than Bathsheba by many years. He is obsessed with Bathsheba ever since he received a valentine from the young lady - it was a dare, and one that Bathsheba later regrets. “Bathsheba was far from dreaming that the dark and silent shape upon which she had so carelessly thrown a seed was a hotbed of tropical intensity” Like Troy, Boldwood is not entirely what he seems: like Oak, he provides a further contrast with Troy. Boldwood is outwardly serious and dignified, but this veneer of reserve hides a deeply emotional and sensitive nature which is stirred by Bathsheba’s impulsive valentine. He dreads mockery more than anything else and confesses to Bathsheba and Oak that he feels the village must be laughing at him behinds his back as they witness his helpless obsession. There is a hint of insanity about his nature: the overwhelming quality of his love for Bathsheba; the collections of clothes labelled with Bathsheba’s name; the reckless murder of Troy in the full view of the party guest. However, it is not really insanity which afflicts him, but the inability to regulate his behaviour, a triumph of action over rational thought. He does not deal entirely fairly with Bathsheba. Hardy represents his loneliness by pathetic fallacy to emphasise Boldwood. He is always shown in the dark in a bad state while Troy is shown in bright colour clothing in bright weather. Overwhelmed by his need to posses her he becomes selfish. He insists that she repairs the damage inflicted on him by the valentine, and by playing guilty feelings in this way blackmails her into a reluctant and unhappy agreement to marry him in seven years’ time. For much of the novel, Boldwood is a sad and preoccupied man, unable to direct his thoughts away from Bathsheba and neglecting all else – including the management of his own farm. Boldwood seeks to possess Bathsheba too and like with Troy, Hardy warns that possession can end only in destruction. Boldwood gives no thought Bathsheba’s opinions – he assures her she will have a life of vacation when she is married, failing to take account the fact that she enjoys managing the farm. Boldwood is selfish and wants the fulfilment of his happiness at the expense of Bathsheba.
We hear of Sergeant Francis Troy before we see him, through Fanny Robin’s letter. Her function in the novel is to present Troy in a bad light shown in the selfish and cold-hearted way he deals with her. “You fool for so fooling me” Troy first met Bathsheba as they were walking through the woods. Bathsheba became tangled in the brambles with Troy. He made a few comments to her about how lovely se was and how he would love to stay tangled up with her. Instantly, Bathsheba was in love. When Troy had become entangled with her, one of his first questions was ‘Are you a woman?’ to which Bathsheba replied, ‘Yes.’ His immediate reaction was to compliment her by calling her a lady, illustrating his natural tendency to see most young ladies he comes across as merely objects for personal conquest. “Had as many women as the letters of the alphabet” Flattery is of course his chief weapon in charming. Troy responds to beauty, and when he sees it, wants to possess it – which ultimately destroys it. It is the thrill and challenge of courtship he desires, not the more mundane, everyday pleasure of marriage. He is callous and cold hearted when he feels himself slighted in love, as his treatment of Fanny demonstrates. He is unscrupulous in love and will lie without a moment’s hesitation in order to get what he wants. “Visits the church” Troy's love for Bathsheba is superficial, it isn't true and we see this in his actions towards her. Troy dominates Bathsheba both physically and verbally, “But I've never seen a woman as beautiful as you before, take it or leave it, be offended or like it” Although he appears to love fanny and to be overcome with remorse of her death. “But never mind darling... in the sight of heaven you are very, very my wife” Troy is a man whose potential is never realised. He has intelligence but wastes it on playing cards and gambling on horses. He possesses a strong streak of determination but, unlike Oak; waste it in impulsive behaviour with little thought for the future or for the consequences of his actions – as when he goes to claim Bathsheba at Boldwood’s Christmas party. His inability to exercise a sense of responsibility almost results in the destruction of Bathsheba’s ricks in the great storm following their wedding celebrations. It is telling that it is Oak who labours with Bathsheba to avert the catastrophe. Troy’s shallowness is demonstrated when we first see him bombarding Bathsheba with outrageous flattery. His courage and skill, too, are wasted in hiving Bathsheba’s bees and in dazzling her with a hollow theatrical demonstration of swordplay whose qualities are echoed later in the tawdry circus sideshow in which he becomes involved. Troy is a handsome man who is often highlighted by the red uniform he wears; he is described as a “bright scarlet spot”. Bathsheba notices the “three chevrons upon his sleeve,” indicating that he is a sergeant. He has a moustache and is also described as “young and slim”. Hardy states that Troy’s “sudden appearance was to dark what a trumpet was to silence.” This adds effect to Troy’s portrayal as a flamboyant character. Troy most often appears in bright daylight - almost as if nature is reminding us that we are seeing an actor on a stage, performing a series of roles which he can assume and shed at will.
Oak’s is a humble man, modest in displaying his most obvious talents – his flute playing and his gifted handling of animals. As he is in his life, so he is in love. He is not masterful enough to press his case insistently with Bathsheba, as Boldwood does, but it is great virtue of constancy which eventually gains him the prize of her hand in marriage. His absolute honesty causes him to speak his mind too readily – he does not always have the same sure touch with people (especially Bathsheba) as he his demonstrates with animals. He is unable to summon any degree of tact in dealing with Troy but this further endears him to the reader – as he does his gentle generosity with distracted Boldwood. Hardy develops Oak’s character as the novel progresses – he learns to deal with Bathsheba more sympathetically and offers freely to help which only he is able to give. After his experiences in the novel he has become sympathetic man and the perfect husband for Bathsheba in a marriage based on their friendship and loyalty.