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Thomas Hardy was both a Romantic and Realist. His characters tend to possess the best of both literary worlds. Bathsheba Everdene, of Far from the Maddening Crowd, possesses characteristics which prove her to be both gracious and self-centered.
Although she provides well for the workers on her farm (even better when the farm is doing well), Bathsheba's character proves to be a little to soft-spoken (yet loud), a little to bashful (yet proud), and a little to flirtatious (yet prudish).
In the opening of the novel, Bathsheba's's beauty is set against the "fine morning" and "scarlet glow" of the sun. Both of these characteristics illustrate the Romantic aspect of the text (appreciation of nature). At the same time,when Bathsheba catches a glimpse of her blushing face, she blushes more (showing a bit of her self-centered nature (illustrating a realist perspective regarding women and beauty). She is even regarded by Oak as a "fair product of Nature" (Nature being capitalized in order to personify it).
It takes Bathsheba a while to come to terms with her true feelings. After taking an innocent interest in Oak, she falls two men (Troy and Boldwood)--one almost causes her to lose everything. In the end, after Bathsheba comes to realize what true loyalty means, she finds that she loves Oak (who has always loved her). After becoming a bitter and cold woman (because of the ruin Troy and Boldwood caused/almost caused), Bathsheba finds the true meaning of life ad love with Oak.
Gabriel Oak, who knows Bathsheba best, truly identifies her character when he calls her vain during a conversation with a gatekeeper.
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