p.p1 and saves Bathsheba’s farm from ruin. Furthermore,

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p.p1 and saves Bathsheba’s farm from ruin. Furthermore,

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A few chapters into the novel, we witness Bathsheba Everdene rejecting Gabriel Oak’s proposal. Despite offering her everything she could ever need and the fact that he is wealthier than her, she turns down his proposal by saying, “I hate to be thought men’s property in that way—though possibly I shall be to be had some day’, thinking that Oak should pursue a rich woman who could help him invest in more land. Bathsheba also states that she wants someone who can tame her and she believes that she is too independent for Oak.

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Another reason that Bathsheba and Oak are unable to be together is due to them being part of different social classes. Upon Batsheba’s insistence that she doesn’t like him and believes love to be an essential part of marriage, Oak tells her that he is already in love with her and that he will love her forever. Thus begins there relationship, and although there are a few alterations to there behaviours, they remain true to there beliefs for the most part, throughout the novel. However, at the end of the novel, when we see Bathsheba and Oak getting married, we are left to explore how Hardy explores Bathsheba’s return to Gabriel as a symbol of a return to herself.

Although it is clear that Bathsheba never felt any passionate or romantic love for Gabriel, Bathsheba’s experiences throughout the story help her understand that passionate love is an exaggerated love that doesn’t truly satisfy her. Gabriel’s sense of honor and loyalty, coupled with his enduring love for her, push her to believing that she is meant to be with Oak. 

Bearing in mind that the book was written by a male, middle-class English author during the Victorian era, the ending suggests something of an intended success for Bathsheba insofar as we see her character transformed from a vain and impetuous young lady to a more grounded, self-aware and considerate woman. 

When Bathsheba is met with great fortune, she begins to expect Gabriel to do whatever she demands. Oak’s sense of self-respect ensures that he does not return until she pleadingly writes to him, saying, “Do not desert me, Gabriel!” He returns and saves Bathsheba’s farm from ruin. Furthermore, when the responsibilities of the farm lie with Bathsheba’s husband, Sergeant Troy, and the crops are on the verge of being destroyed by a storm, a drunk Troy lazes in the barn while Oak perseveres to save them. Oak’s determination to help his previous lover is based on mathematical calculations and economics, while his true reason is this: “I will help to my last breath the woman I have loved so dearly”. 
Bathsheba defies the ideals of a Victorian woman, by managing her own farm independently. However, her behaviour varies as per her suitor. As Boldwood is rich and considered to be at the top of the social circle, Bathsheba entertains the idea of marriage to him despite her lack of love for him. However, upon her first encounter with Troy, she remained lost for words, unable to reply to his witty and charming remarks. This could signify that Bathsheba had finally found the man who could possibly tame her, and so she paid little attention to the fact that Troy was well below her social class. 

After Troy supposedly drowns, Boldwood begins his pursuit of Bathsheba. Through all her problems and topsy-turvy life, she had one constant with whom she always felt comfortable enough to discuss her problems with: Gabriel Oak. She confessed to being coerced into marrying Boldwood, saying, “I believe that if I don’t give my word he’ll go out of his mind.” Because of her conscience, Bathsheba is coerced into an engagement into which she does not wish to enter, showing the Boldwood has a certain influence over her actions. Bathsheba finds herself distressed that Gabriel will be “leaving her to fight her battles alone” (Hardy 344). She has also taken Gabriel’s presence in her life for granted. The narrator states, “She was aggrieved and wounded that the possession of hopeless love from Gabriel, which she had grown to regard as her inalienable right for life, should have been withdrawn just at his own pleasure in this way” (Hardy 345). It is the sudden realization that she could lose Gabriel forever that drives Bathsheba to seek him out at his home, an action that violates all rules of Victorian courtship. But it is her willingness to finally break society’s standards in regards to Gabriel that results in their engagement. After they decide to marry, the narrator remarks that the best love results from people first knowing one another’s flaws. He further argues that they have a companionship of “similar pursuits” and that it is the only love stronger than death (Hardy 348). And they do marry, creating such a union. 

However, Bathsheba has a certain ideal of marriage that has been presented by society. While she defies gender roles in other ways throughout, she seems adamant about achieving what everyone, including herself, would consider a proper marriage. This is why Gabriel must rise to a higher social class, and she must fall in love with him before she can accept his hand. Therefore, Bathsheba’s relationship with Gabriel represents the sense of duty towards society women can feel, even though they wish to be so much more than what society allows. But despite all the feelings of obligation experienced by Bathsheba, Oak has always loved her for herself, something that a mentally-unhinged Boldwood and Troy, “a rake” (Hardy 180), could not do. She is fortunate to have found someone so consistent and steady, despite all of the trials she has put him through. Although Bathsheba believed that Oak was not the type of man to tame her, he does. He brings her a sense of security
and peace that no one else could provide. 

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