Gabriel Oak has a very remarkable name. The name Gabriel is from the Bible and Gabriel was the messenger sent to Mary to say that she was to have God’s baby. Oak means many things; he is most like an oak tree though strong, sturdy and solid. There are many references to him being like this “His height and breath would have been sufficient to make his presence imposing at an exhibition” He is also been described as an individual by the way he walks “Oak walked unassumingly, and with a faintly perceptible bend, yet distinct from a bowing of the shoulders.
This may be said to be a defect in an individual if he depends for his valuation more upon his appearance” Oak trees give this impression of being independent and individual and very English, which Gabriel is. He is a man of no extremes and takes things in his stride. He has a tall broad pleasant smile which sums up his character. “Corners of his mouth spread… his eyes were reduced to chicks, and diverging wrinkles appeared around them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun”
When Gabriel firsts sees Bathsheba he agrees with the toll keeper, the gatekeeper says, “That’s a handsome maid,” Gabriel says ” but she has her faults … vanity”. Gabriel thinks that Bathsheba is paradise when he sees her nursing her cow; he has still not spoken to her and views her from afar. “He saw her in a birds eye view, as Milton satans’ first saw paradise” He listens to the women’s conversations and overhears that the young girl (Bathsheba) has lost her hat and wants it back. Gabriel formally meets Bathsheba in chapter three. He returns the hat he went and found for her.
He asks her name and she challenges him to find it out, this shows that Bathsheba is not a shy woman, but loud and confident. He holds her hand while giving the hat back and says he is sorry to let go. ” I’m sorry” “what for? ” “Letting your hand go so quick,” she offers him to hold it again and he holds for a curiously long time, “That’s long enough”, but doesn’t pull it away. She offers him to kiss her hand but as he is about to she says no. “Now find out my name” and leaves. Gabriel finds out her name by making enquires and he wants her to be his wife, “ill make her my wife, or upon my soul I shall be good for nothing”
When Gabriel first proposes to Bathsheba he goes to her home and asks her aunt if she is in, as he would like to give her a present a lamb. Mrs Hurst the aunt says Bathsheba is not in at the moment and he is welcome to stay and wait. He tells the aunt that he would like to ask her to marry him. ” The lamb isn’t really the business I came about, Mrs Hurst In short I was going to ask her if she’d like to be married” Bathsheba’s aunt teases him saying that she has so many young men hanging around her it would be hard for him to have a chance with her.
Gabriel is ” only an everyday sort of man, l and my only chance was being the first comer” Gabriel leaves deeply embarrassed and just as he is leaving Bathsheba come running out of the house after him and says that her aunt has made a mistake and that she has never had a beau. “Really and truly I am glad to hear that said Oak smiling one of his special smiles” Gabriel thinks Bathsheba has said yes, but when he starts talking about when they are married she says she doesn’t love him and therefore cannot marry him. As Bathsheba won’t marry him she will continue to live with her aunt until she finds someone she loves.
Gabriel says he doesn’t mind not being loved and only liked but this won’t do for Bathsheba when she marries it will be for love only. ” I shall do one thing in this life- one thing is certain- that is, love you, and long for you, and keep waiting for you till I die” Gabriel says, Bathsheba feels guilty but sticks to her point and Gabriel finishes the conversation by saying “I’ll ask no more” Gabriel thinks that he will never see her again and that the likelihood that she would marry him minuscule and Bathsheba thinks the same.
After Oaks sheep died he left the area to look for work, as he now had not a penny to his name, and one of his thoughts are thank goodness he doesn’t have a wife. Gabriel is resourceful and goes to the nearby town to see if he can find work. On his journey to Shottsford he sees a fire, he goes over to help with the situation and sees that it is bad and begins to help “Stop the draught” He takes control and helps the villagers save the crop; he is calm, observant and direct with what to do. He organises the people to sort the fire out and stop it spread.
Once the fire has died down he is asked to see the mistress of the farm so he can be thanked. Arriving at her side where she is on a horse he asks if there are any jobs. Lifting her veil which protected her from the smoke he realises he has arrived at Bathsheba’s farm and she is the mistress. He asks her again “Do you want a Sheppard ma’am? In a sad and abashed voice” He repeats the question even though he recognises her and is embarrassed about it, as he doesn’t want anyone to know that he knows her. Bathsheba is not embarrassed by the scene but is shocked to see him. Bathsheba offers him a position “I do want a Sheppard, but….
” The villager’s think this is a good idea as they all saw how Gabriel saved them from the whole crop being destroyed. Just like his name Gabriel he saved them and was sent to help them. Bathsheba begins to respect him and likes to ask his opinion on many things about the farm. She trusts him and she is in control of the farm and its doings. People realise she knows what to do and isn’t a fool they respect her. When Boldwood asks Bathsheba if she will marry him, and she is taken by surprise at this question and says she needs time. Bathsheba knows that she will not really marry him but doesn’t know how to say no and refuse him.
She leaves Boldwood hopeful of letting him marry her. She asks Gabriel what he thinks. “That it is unworthy of any thoughtful and meek and comely woman” As soon as Gabriel tells us her that she becomes very cross and doesn’t like him saying that even thought it is his honest opinion. She asks him where he thinks her unworthiness lies and suggests it was in not marrying him. He denies this and this makes Bathsheba more upset, as she wants him to still want to marry her. Gabriel does still want to but wouldn’t say in front of her as it would comfort her and he does not want that.