The first thing to note about Bathsheba is that she is vain. This is the first characteristic that Hardy strikingly emphasizes with such elaborate detail as she sits atop her belongings, while she is moving from one county in England to another, and primps and preens in a "small swing looking-glass" (mirror) while stopped on the highway as her driver checks the cargo.
a small swing looking-glass was disclosed, in which she proceeded to survey herself attentively. ... What possessed her to indulge in such a performance in the sight of the sparrows, blackbirds, ... nobody knows; ... The change from ... the dressing hour in a bedroom to ... out of doors — lent to the idle deed a novelty ....
The next thing to note from her encounter with Gabriel Oak when he observes her on horseback and later as their paths continue to cross is that she is quite able and capable of taking care of herself, especially since she has a mind of her own.
"I'll ride over [said Bathsheba] for it as soon as it is light." "But there's no side-saddle [said her Aunt]." "I can ride on the other: trust me."
The third thing to note from her next encounter with Oak at her Aunt's home is that she is proud. She is so proud in fact that she must run after Oak to tell him in no uncertain terms that her Aunt had lied in her reasons for claiming Bathsheba would not consider his marriage proposal. Bathsheba makes it clear that her reason for refusing is that he is of too low a status for her to consider marrying: "I am better educated than you — and I don't love you a bit ...."
The next thing to note from her encounters with Farmer Boldwood is that she is ambitious (i.e., has high aspirations that extend out of her own sphere) while having a wickedly mischievous and sometimes vengeful side. She retaliates against Farmer 's indifference toward her by making fun of him in a false "secret admirer" Valentine card. It is this mischievous and sometimes vengeful side that directly cause all her worst troubles, though her vanity, pride and ambition cause her earliest troubles.