Bathsheba did not fall in love with Gabriel at first sight as he did with her. In response to his visit, she pursues him in a tomboyish style and naively assures him that she has no other suitors, a relief to Gabriel who admits that since he was an everyday sort of man his only chance was in being the first comer. She listens to his earnest promises of all things he could offer to her but Bathsheba was too romantically inclined to find them a reason to get married. She admitted the life he painted was something she would like but without the encumbrance of a husband!! She very honestly confesses that she did not love him to which he is willing to compromise and he says he would be content if she just liked him.
“You’d get to despise me, ” she says to which Oak asserts that “Never…I shall…keep wanting you till I die”. He is honest to his words and as we see Gabriel did continue to love and protect her throughout though Bathsheba could only realize it much later when she was badly embittered in love and life. Ironically she falls in love with a handsome flamboyant Troy who could stir up her romantic imagination but never loved her truly.
Later: Strange circumstances in which Troy meets his death filled Bathsheba with wild grief. She puts the whole blame on herself and is filled with self-accusation. LIFE Gradually grief subsides and she leads a life of seclusion and retirement. She avoids people and remains indoors for most of the time. Bathsheba had a tendency to take the devotion and attachment of Gabriel Oak as a matter of course without realizing it. She had taken it for granted that he would go on worshipping her and nursing his hopeless passion to the end of his life. Without being aware of it she had begun to be totally dependent on him.
On receiving his notice of resignation she was shocked and the very thought of Gabriel leaving her grieved and wounded her emotionally. She realized that over the years he had become indispensable to her and that without him life would become barren and empty. She took an unconventional decision to visit him and the conversation they had led them to reveal their true feelings for each other and ended with their decision to get married. Their love had grown from a long working partnership, friendship and mutual respect. They are aware of each other’s “rough” sides and yet with maturity and subtlety let their romance grow amidst harsh prosaic reality.
BATHSHEBA AND BOLDWOOD
Boldwood was Bathsheba’s neighbour, a rich gentleman farmer and bachelor of forty. He was considered a “celibate” and indifferent to women. However on receiving Bathsheba’s fatal valentine he becomes obsessed with” tropic intensity”. He quickly falls in love and proposes to her offering Bathsheba a lady’s life of leisure and luxury. Boldwood’s passion was constant but becomes a mania and obsession with him.
He imagines public mockery and envisages loss of his “good name” and “standing” by her rejection. His unfulfilled and unrequited feelings become a mental torment and agony. While Oak is able to exercise restraint on his feelings and keep himself busy at work Boldwood loses all interest in his farm and his peace of mind once he knows Bathsheba has married Troy. He becomes unbalanced and careless even forgetting to cover his ricks and protect them from damage by storm. His skull like appearance unable to bear the truth shocks Gabriel. Though Boldwood was a wealthy farmer and offered Bathsheba a rise in her social status she rejects him, as he was not able to stir any love or romance in her. She sought love and not materialistic pleasure in marriage.