Bathsheba is the heroine of the novel who is depicted as a continually growing and changing character. She is not a perfect or ideal woman and has her faults but overall her accomplishments and virtues definitely outweigh the shortcomings of her personality. Bathsheba is first portrayed as a poor attractive cottage girl admiring herself in a mirror. This vanity, Gabriel Oak is quick to observe is her chief fault. At the tollgate too she does not consider it necessary to thank Gabriel for paying the additional two pence she had refused to pay the gatekeeper to allow her to pass.
Vanity was indeed a part of the innermost core of her being. She had a vain woman’s desire to be looked at and admired and felt ignored when Farmer Boldwood was indifferent to her beauty and looks when she first visited Casterbridge market. However despite her self-confidence and independence she was an extremely jealous and possessive woman. It was this weakness that made her succumb to Troy’s charms and agree to marry him when he tells her that has met another woman more beautiful than her.
Initially she also feels jealous of the dead Fanny Robin when she sees Troy kissing her and proclaiming his true love for her and calling her his very own wife! She claims her love and right as his wife and when he rebukes her it leads to an awful scene between them and then their separation. Although well educated she was considered too wild and unpredictable to be a governess. She was head strong and impulsive. Her hasty marriage to Troy, even when she had gone with the intentions to renounce him was a manifestation of her reckless behaviour.
Sending Boldwood a Valentine card with “Marry Me” on it was another impulsive action, which had dire consequences. Her outbursts of temper were also noticed in the way she stormed at her maids for speaking ill of Troy and dismissing Gabriel for offending her with his frank criticism. Despite her faults Bathsheba was “candour” itself. She was essentially a good woman and had a sympathetic nature. She truly regretted her frivolous act that resulted in arousing Boldwood’s passion. She was no schemer or trifler with the affection of men.
The tragic end of Fanny who was the object of her husband’s love also aroused her sympathy and the way she handled her burial and Troys’ showed her sincerity. Falling in love with Troy for a romantically inclined woman like Bathsheba did not imply a serious fault of character only a lack of insight into character. On the other hand, Bathsheba’s courage and love for independence were her admirable traits. She was “an Elizabeth in brain and a Mary Stuart in spirit”. She acts bravely in saving Gabriel from suffocation when there is a fire in his hut.
Her cleverness is admired by the trustees of Weatherbury and they appoint her mistress of her uncle’s estate after he dies. She takes the unconventional step of managing the farm herself without the help of a bailiff and wins the loyalty of the workmen by giving them a bonus as appreciation of their support. She acts responsibly in sending men to search for Fanny. She displays unconventional strength and confidence when she attends the market at Casterbridge where she is the only woman farmer.
She is sincere and involved in her work and personally supervises operations such as sheep -shearing, harvesting, haymaking and attends to the safety of her corn ricks. Again on Troy’s death she bears her misfortune and widowhood with rare calmness and fortitude. With great strength and a sense of both duty and loyalty as a wife she prepares Troy’s corpse for burial and decides to place it next to Fanny having shed her feelings of jealousy. It was for these reasons that Hardy claims that she belongs to the category of women who become mothers of heroes!!