Complications leads to a crisis, chapters 24-43, attraction

2 February 2010

Learning Objective: To explore the concept of attraction and explore what it is…

What makes a person attractive?

Rank these qualities and add your own, with the most important first

Good looks?

A kind and generous personality?

A dangerous and risk-taking personality?

A high-status, respectable profession such as lawyer/celebrity

A dangerous, romantic profession such as being in the army, police

Someone who is a good carer

Someone who is a charmer

Upper class

Middle class

Lower class

From a particular ethnic group

A creative person

A scientific person


Representations of attractive people

What do films and TV tell you are the most important “attractive” qualities? Eg good looks?

Hardy’s representation of attractive people

What would Hardy’s readers have most thought was the most attractive person?

Boldwood – with his money and high class position in society

Troy – with his good looks and romantic profession

Oak – with his stable and loving character

Bathsheba – with her good looks and struggle to find a position for herself?

The answer

It’s Boldwood! Most Victorian readers would have seen him as by far the best person to marry! Why? Because most Victorians didn’t believe in marrying for love but for security and respectability.

Troy would have been seen as “dashing” and “romantic” but VERY DANGEROUS. Eg Jane Austen’s representations of soldiers, Wickham in Pride and Prejudice

Complications to crisis

The whole of this section of the novel focuses upon Bathsheba’s obsession with Troy, her inability to give him up despite the fact that she knows she should.

Chapters 26-43: complications to crisis

Troy is presented as a very sexually alluring. Eg Hiving the bees, sword scene. What does this picture tell us?


The secrecy of the scene

Bathsheba in white, representing innocence, she’s lost, doesn’t represent her desire

Troy looks dangerous but quite formal

Chapter 28 The hollow in the ferns

She saw him stoop to the grass, pick up the winding lock which he had severed from her manifold tresses, twist it round his fingers, unfasten a button in the breast of his coat, and carefully put it inside. She felt powerless to withstand or deny him. He was altogether too much for her, and Bathsheba seemed as one who, facing a reviving wind, finds it blow so strongly that it stops the breath.



Bathsheba’s strength and independence count for nothing once she starts to fall in love.

The last paragraph of chapter 28

He drew near and said, ‘I must be leaving you.’ He drew nearer still. A minute later and she saw his scarlet form disappear amid the ferny thicket, almost in a flash, like a brand swiftly waved.

That minute’s interval had brought the blood beating into her face, set her stinging as if aflame to the very hollows of her feet, and enlarged emotion to a compass which quite swamped thought. It had brought upon her a stroke resulting, as did that of Moses in Horeb, in a liquid stream – here a stream of tears. She felt like one who has sinned a great sin.

The circumstance had been the gentle dip of Troy’s mouth downwards upon her own. He had kissed her.

Troy and his sword – what does it represent?

Hardy had a very moral audience who would tolerate NO SEX SCENES? How does he get around this?

Chapter 31

Bathsheba, in spite of her mettle, began to feel unmistakable signs that she was the weaker vessel. She strove miserably against this femininity which would insist upon supplying unbidden emotions in stronger and stronger current.



This could be interpreted as sexual stereotyping in that it suggests women are weaker than men are and more prey to emotion, but once again it must be viewed in context. Bathsheba has fallen in love with Troy but she is also faced with the obsessive love of Boldwood, instigated by her sending of the Valentine. It is little wonder that she feels agitated, confused and unable to withstand Boldwood.

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