19th Century Romantic Hero

19th Century Romantic Hero

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Consider the characters of Oak, Boldwood and Troyand their
relationship with Bathsheba. Which male best fits the 19th century
tradition of the 'Romantic Hero'?

A romantic hero is a person (usually a man) who is there to save the
day when you need them. They should have certain qualities like,
charm, bravery, intelligence, reliability, financial stability and
most importantly passion.

The novel 'Far From The Madding Crowd' by Thomas Hardy, fits the
stereo type of a classic Victorian novel. Bathsheba is the heroine in
need; there are also a string of problems for the characters to
overcome like Troy's involvement with Fanny, her death and the loss of
her baby to which Troy is the father. Rises and falls of fortune, for
example when Oak loses all his sheep and has to leave his farm; and
the happy ending to the story when Oak and Bathsheba get married.

However, the characters do no fit the stereo type of the Victorian
novel exactly. The idea of a romantic hero is that he is a good
character without any real faults, in this novel it is rather unclear
as to who is the romantic hero until towards the end of the book. The
heroine is meant to go through bad incidents with no fault of her own
but Bathsheba is not innocent, you can see this when Boldwood falls in
love with her because she has sent him a valentines card with 'Marry
Me' stamped on the back. It was her fault for misleading Boldwood in
the first place; also, the heroine is traditionally a weak person
whereas Bathsheba is very strong.

Troy was first mentioned in the novel as being the lover of Fanny, a
work maid from Bathsheba's farm. He starts off a being the
stereotypical romantic hero, he is dashing and attractive in a
soldiers uniform! He is a sergeant in the army and is very highly
looked upon. As the story progresses you can see that Troy is not
quite the person that he appears to be. He is very untrustworthy and
unreliable, not qualities associated with a romantic hero. When he
meets Bathsheba on the path for the first time he is very blunt and
quite rude. Some good quotes from the book that describe Troy are "He
was moderately truthful towards men, but to women he lied like a
Cretan" and "He could in this way be one thing and seem another; for
instance, he could speak of love and think of dinner; call on the
husband to look at the wife; be eager to pay and intend to owe." These

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quotes are an insight into the personality of the real Troy. He is
seen as being very arrogant because he knows that he is portrayed as
being a ladies man and to some degree thinks that he can get away with
whatever he wants. The fact that he leaves the church because Fanny
Robin is a few minutes late, shows that he didn't really want to marry
her and just agreed to do so to keep her happy. Troy needs to learn
that you can't keep everyone happy with lies and weak promises.

On the other Hand Gabriel Oak is totally different. He is described as
being "A good man" with "Good character". He worked on a farm from a
young age and after many years of hard work he became bailiff. Oak is
a very sincere and dependable man but he seem to be somewhat
inexperienced around women, this is shown when he proposes to
Bathsheba so soon after first meeting her. Whenever he sees Bathsheba
he can't help but stare at her beauty, he begins to fall for Bathsheba
in Chapter 2 "Oak, upon hearing these remarks, became curious to her
features," and "He painted her a beauty". Both these quotes show how
Oak slowly falls in love with Bathsheba.

The incident where Bathsheba saves Oak from the fumes in his house is
very significant. Opening his eyes Oak found himself "Laid with his
head upon her lap, his face and neck were disagreeably wet and her
fingers were unbuttoning his collar." This very sexual and romantic
position made Oak's feelings for Bathsheba even stronger; he now
totally loved her. Oak at this point is very vulnerable and proposes
to Bathsheba. When she refuses Oak breaks down but he does not really
accept her rejection. Oak later redeems him self though, when he loses
all his sheep and has to leave the farm. He doesn't give up like
others may have done but carries on and finds other work showing that
he can be strong. This shows his stoicism which is his main strength.

The other main male character in the novel is farmer Boldwood. He is
quite a lot older than Troy and Oak. Boldwood owns his own farm and is
financially independent. He had everything but a wife and his very
serious nature meant that "If an emotion possessed him at all, it
ruled him." This shows when Bathsheba sends him a valentines card with
the words Marry Me stamped on the back, most men would have realised
that this was a joke but Boldwood did not. He takes life in general
too seriously.

Throughout the novel Boldwood seems to be in control of his feelings,
but this is really all just a mask hiding his real emotions. At the
end of the story he is driven to insanity by the return of Troy and
shoots him out of pure jealousy. This kind of behaviour takes him out
of contention as far as being a stereotypical romantic hero.

In my opinion, out of the three men, Gabriel Oak most fits the
stereotype of the romantic hero. His actions through the novel show
the sort of qualities we expect to see in a romantic hero. He may not
rescue Bathsheba physically but he saves her livelihood on two
occasions and his support as a friend is constant. He is a good honest
man with descent intentions, he truly cares for Bathsheba.

Neither Troy nor Boldwood show this reliability even though they have
different qualities such as Troy being handsome and charming, and
Boldwood being kind and financially stable.
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