Her pride over her public image and sense of dignity, force Bathsheba to commit acts of great stupidity, and she makes a number of mistakes because of it. Hardy makes us aware from the first chapter, of Bathsheba’s arrogance. She refuses to pay the man at the tollgate enough money. This haughtiness, derived from some sense of superiority in Bathsheba shows her character as arrogant and immature. Other attributes that draw Bathsheba into precarious positions are her stubbornness and her determination to achieve independence.
Upon catching her bailiff stealing, she instantly dismisses him, and takes total managerial control over her farm. This reveals yet another of her weaknesses-impulsiveness. Her impulsive character is further demonstrated by her agreeing to marry Troy straight away, without much thought or without asking anyone. Although her refusal to seem weak or undignified shows her pride, it also shows her to be brave. Hardy demonstrates Bathsheba’s immaturity and irresponsibility by the way he makes her react to Gabriel’s proposal. She runs after him, and leads him on, and then turns him down.
Bathsheba treats the situation as if it were a game. She answers his offerings by saying, “Yes I should like that”, and “Dearly I should like that”. This incident also indicates cold heart, whether intentionally or unintentionally. By the statement, “Well, what I mean is that I shouldn’t mind being a bride at a wedding, if I could be one without having a husband”, indicates that Bathsheba would like a bride’s opportunity of showing off, but not the responsibilities connected with marriage. Thus, another method Hardy uses to portray Bathsheba’s character is her speech, and actions.
One of Bathsheba’s most notable strengths is her bravery. Her courage, coupled with her quick thinking allows Bathsheba to save Gabriel Oak’s life. When she is made aware that Oak left the ventilation holes and door in his hut shut, and that the outcome would be Gabriel’s suffocation, she drags him outside and revives him. After this incident, when Gabriel re-gains consciousness, he asks Bathsheba her name. Bathsheba flirtingly challenges Oak to find out, showing her immaturity. It is this immaturity, which brings about terrible consequences throughout her life.
Bathsheba is good at running the farm and she shows no signs of lack of control, showing her autonomy. In the beginning of the novel, Bathsheba is immature, rash, and impetuous. However, in chapter 19, we are made aware of the beginnings of Bathsheba’s maturity. She seems sincerely sorry for the pain and anguish she has caused Boldwood. Hardy shows this characteristic by what he has made Bathsheba say, ” O I am wiked to have made you suffer” and “don’t say it: don’t”. Hardy reveals her self-awareness by this speech.
When Fanny dies, Bathsheba, although she hardly knows Fanny, had the encoffined body brought to Weatherbury Farm for burial. This incident shows Bathsheba’s compassionate nature. One way in which Hardy presents Bathsheba’s character is by the use of juxtaposition. Both Fanny Robin and Bathsheba Everdene were beautiful women. As they both go through life, Bathsheba gets the good luck by gaining the farm and thus inherits a lot of money. However, Fanny Robin becomes in a shortage of money. Fanny becomes a servant, and Bathsheba becomes the new owner of a farm. Throughout the novel, Fanny Robin is a contrast to Bathsheba.
Juxtaposition is used by Hardy to show the strengths of Bathsheba’s character. As the novel progresses, we become aware that Hardy has many chauvinistic ideas about women in general. Despite Bathsheba’s unconventially in some respects and the fact that Hardy actually says that she is unlike all other women, Hardy has installed in her many attributes and character faults which Hardy considers to be exclusively women’s, or at least common in the race of women kind. This includes her vanity and self-consciousness, which are displayed from the beginning, and throughout the whole novel.
On the other hand, it is made clear that Bathsheba is far from being the conventional women of the time. She is decisive, brisk, and businesslike whilst dealing with the paying of the farm workers in chapter 10. We are made aware that the resolution to have no bailiff at all astonishes the other farmers as it shows her confidence. “The men expired an audible breath of amazement”, further shows her confidence, but Hardy uses this sentence to show how amazed the farmer’s were at seeing a woman as confident as Bathsheba.
“I shall be up before you are awake, I shall be afield before you are up, and I shall have breakfasted before you are afield. In short I shall astonish you all” The style Hardy has used when writing speech that Bathsheba says, such as the one above, is very strong and convincing, showing her confidence, and in this case her ability to cope. Thus, Hardy uses language to present Bathsheba’s character. Her sex brings doubt and lack of faith amongst the farm workers, “Our mis’ess will bring us all to the bad”, which shows the views of people of the time, on the ability of woman.
Bathsheba being unlike the stereotypical women, manages to run the farm well. Bathsheba is of an “impulsive nature under a deliberative aspect”. In chapter three, she is watched by Oak from afar, without her knowledge. Bathsheba shows signs of her unconventionality, by leaning back on her saddle in a very dangerous way. This method of riding would not have been seen before. It is un-lady like, and would not have been expected from anyone, let alone a woman. Assumptions are made in the book, that a farmer would have always been a male in the time.
In chapter six, when Gabriel has jut helped put out the fire, he asks, “Where is your master the farmer? ” and is startled to learn, “T’isnt a master; ’tis a Mistress, Shepherd”. His reaction to this, “A woman farmer? ” is used by Hardy to show that Gabriel has immediately assumed that it is a male farmer (as would have been expected in the mid 19th century) and when he finds out that it is a female farmer, he is astonished. The very fact that that there is a question mark after, “A women farmer” shows that he is not simply repeating what he has been told, but is repeating it in disbelief.
At the corn exchange, Bathsheba is the only female, (“the single one of her sex that the room contained”) which shows that the rest of the farmers were male, and thus that she is the only woman farmer. The people in the corn market, whilst discussing Bathsheba, “Tis a handsome maid, however, and she’ll soon get picked up”, assume that she will get married, and hand over the farm to her husband. These are not her attentions, and thus her intentions are unlike what would be expected of women of the time.