Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Gabriel Oak is a small-scale farmer, but his honesty, integrity, and ability win him the respect of all of his neighbors. When he hears that a young woman named Bathsheba Everdene has moved into the neighborhood, he goes out of his way to see her and falls immediately in love. Gabriel is the kind of man who looks only once to know that he has found the right woman. After seeing her only a few times, he goes to her aunt, for whom Bathsheba works, and asks for the girl’s hand in marriage. Although he is refused, he feels that it is the relative, not Bathsheba, who denies him.
A short time later, Gabriel’s sheepdog becomes excited and chases his flock of sheep over a cliff, killing them all. Ruined, Gabriel gives up his farm and goes elsewhere to find work. On his way across the country, he passes a burning barn and runs to aid the men fighting the flames. After the fire is put out, the owner of Weatherbury Farm arrives, and it is suggested that Gabriel be hired as shepherd in return for the fine work he did. To his surprise, the owner of the farm is Bathsheba, who recently inherited the place from her uncle. Gabriel becomes her shepherd. He is struck by the change in their positions in such a short while. Now Bathsheba is the landowner, and Gabriel is the servant.
On his way to his new quarters, Gabriel meets a girl standing in the woods. She speaks to him and asks him not to say that he saw her, and he promises to keep silent. The next...
(The entire section is 1208 words.)
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The first chapter of Far from the Madding Crowd introduces Gabriel Oak, a hardworking farmer. One day, tending his fields, he sees a wagon with a beautiful girl in it. When her driver goes to pick up something dropped on the road, the girl, thinking no one can see her, takes out a small mirror and examines her face. Oak later observes the same young woman and her aunt caring for a newborn calf through a cold night.
Oak finally talks to Bathsheba Everdene, returning a hat that she has lost. She is flirtatious. Oak, smitten, goes to call on her at her aunt’s house to ask her to marry him. She refuses, explaining, “I want somebody to tame me; I am too independent; and you would never be able to, I know.”
One morning Oak hears that Bathsheba has left town. Not long after, he suffers a tragedy: an inexperienced sheep dog chases his flock through a fence in a hill, and most of them fall over a cliff and die. Oak is forced to sell all he has in order to pay back money he borrowed, and he ends up homeless. After several months, Oak is traveling, looking for work. He comes across a barn on fire and takes the lead in fighting it. The barn is located on the farm Bathsheba inherited from her uncle. At the suggestion of her workers, Bathsheba offers Oak work as a shepherd, and he accepts. Traveling to the malthouse to find lodging, Oak runs into a pale girl who is later identified as...
(The entire section is 1289 words.)