Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Gabriel Oak, a sturdy young English farmer. Refused as a husband by Bathsheba Everdene, he also loses his farm through ill luck. Disheartened by these events, he becomes a shepherd and is taken on at the farm just inherited by his beloved. Although the girl proposes to manage the farm herself, she soon puts more and more of its affairs into the hands of Gabriel Oak, whose skill and loyalty she can trust. Saying no more of love or marriage, Gabriel watches the courtship of Bathsheba by Mr. Boldwood, a well-to-do farmer of the neighborhood. He also watches when she is courted by Sergeant Francis Troy and becomes the latter’s wife. During this time, although disappointed in love, Gabriel is so successful at managing his beloved’s farm that he becomes the manager of Mr. Boldwood’s farm as well. When Bathsheba’s marriage ends tragically and Mr. Boldwood is imprisoned for murder, Gabriel still loyally serves both. He finally decides to leave England. When he informs Bathsheba of his intention, she suddenly realizes that she loves the loyal young farmer. She reveals her love for him, and they are married.
Bathsheba Everdene, a vain and unpredictable young woman of great beauty, loved for many years by Gabriel Oak. Despite her personal weaknesses, she is a practical woman after taking over the farm inherited from her uncle. She hires Gabriel as a shepherd but soon makes him the bailiff...
(The entire section is 843 words.)
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Cainy is the boy who is appointed assistant shepherd to Gabriel. His mother named him Cain because she was confused about the story of Genesis, and thought it was Abel who killed his brother.
Boldwood is a bachelor, about forty years old, who owns the farm next to the Everdene farm. He takes responsibility for Fanny Robin when her parents die. Bathsheba Everdene first becomes aware of Boldwood when he comes to visit soon after she takes over her uncle’s farm. Her maid explains that Boldwood is a confirmed bachelor and shows no interest in women, which spurs Bathsheba to send him an anonymous valentine.
The valentine starts Boldwood thinking about women. He becomes convinced that he is in love with Bathsheba. Because he is used to business interactions and not personal ones, he pressures her to marry him and is confused when she is reluctant. When she marries Troy, Boldwood feels she has been stolen from him and lets his farm go to ruin. After Troy is thought dead, Boldwood interprets the fact that she will not remarry for seven years to mean that at the end of that time, she will marry him. When she says she will give him an answer at Christmas, he prepares a lavish party, assuming she will become his fiancée.
When Boldwood is jailed for killing Troy, the extent of Boldwood’s delusions becomes apparent. Locked closets are found in his house, full of dresses, furs, and...
(The entire section is 1852 words.)