He seems undignified when talking to Bathsheba, and this is unlike Boldwood’s character when we first read of him. It is obvious now that he is descending deeper into madness. For ten chapters we read nothing of Boldwood, aside from a brief conversation between him and Bathsheba in chapter twenty-three He then returns in chapter thirty-one. During the time since his proposal Boldwood’s feelings have been allowed to stew, but shortly before this chapter Bathsheba wrote Boldwood a letter explaining that she could not marry him. Despite the plainness of the letter, he cannot fully accept that he has been turned down.
When the two characters meet in chapter thirty-one Boldwood at first seems calm and accepting of her refusal, but when she bids him “Good evening” and then confirms that her decision is final, he suddenly reverts to his passionate and undignified state. “O Bathsheba – have pity upon me! ” Boldwood then brings up the subject of Sergeant Troy, whom Bathsheba had fallen in love with between chapters 24-30. “Why did Troy not leave my treasure alone? ” he says, showing that he is becoming increasingly detached from reality, as Bathsheba was never his.
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He begins to get very irate and blames her for not feeling anything for him. “Heaven -heaven-if I had got jilted secretly, and the dishonour not know, and my position kept! But no matter, it is gone, and the woman not gained. Shame upon him – shame! ” Although Boldwood is extremely angry, it seems at this point that he is healthily coming to terms with being turned down, but this is revealed not to be true. He is still being unreasonable, and tells Bathsheba to keep Troy away from him for fear that he might attack or even kill him.
His reaction is very illogical, and he has progressed a long way towards insanity. In chapter 34 we see that Boldwood is now a completely different man, he is truly unstable. He visits Bathsheba’s house because he wants to apologise, but is told my Liddy that she cannot see him. He starts to walk home, but then Sergeant Troy arrives. Boldwood introduces himself and when Troy tries to walk away Boldwood becomes menacing and states firmly that Troy is going to have a conversation with him whether he wants to or not.
Because of the lateness of the time, and the fact that Boldwood seems an imposing figure with his “stalwart frame” and the “thick cudgel he carried in his hand”, Troy decides to oblige him. Boldwood proceeds to offer a business transaction where he will pay Troy fifty pounds if he will marry Fanny Robin. Shortly before this we can see that Boldwood is completely delusional when he says to Troy “If you had not come I should certainly-yes, certainly- have been accepted by this time”. Boldwood truly believes it is Troy’s fault that he is not married to Bathsheba, and not that fact that Bathsheba does not love or even like him.
Troy then plays Boldwood, pretending to accept his proposal until Bathsheba comes out of the house. Their conversation makes it obvious to Boldwood that they are a couple and when Troy returns to him under the pretence of gathering his things, Boldwood becomes angry and grabs Troy by the throat. After a brief conversation Troy manages to change Boldwood’s view on the matter, and suddenly Boldwood says “Troy, make her your wife, and don’t act on what I arranged just now”. From this we can tell Boldwood is not seeing things clearly at all, his opinion changes instantly.
Troy teases Boldwood and when he implies he wants more money, the author writes “Boldwood, more like a somnambulist than a wakeful man, pulled out the large canvas bag he carried by way of a purse”. This shows that it’s almost as if Boldwood is walking around in a dream, when he is awake he seems as if he is sleepwalking. At this point in the novel it is certain that Boldwood is mentally unwell. Troy then shows Boldwood a piece of paper on which it is written that he and Bathsheba married that day. Boldwood is speechless, and Troy condescends to him about him being a hypocrite, and then throws his money back at him.
Boldwood is infuriated, he has been made a complete fool of and as well as that, Bathsheba and Troy are married. Boldwood then shouts the prophetic words “You juggler of Satan! You black hound! But I’ll punish you yet; mark me, I’ll punish you yet! ” Now, Boldwood’s equilibrium is, beyond doubt, disturbed and his feelings truly extreme. “Throughout the whole of that night Boldwood’s dark form might have been seen walking about the hills and downs of Weatherbury like an unhappy shade in the Mournful Fields by Acheron. ” In chapter thirty-eight we find out that Boldwood has neglected his farm, and almost all his crops have gone to waste.
After Gabriel Oak spends all night working on covering Bathsheba’s ricks, he meets Boldwood. When Oak asks if Boldwood’s ricks are covered he is completely shocked to find out that they’re not, that he has entirely overlooked them. Oak realises that this profound change in Boldwood’s priorities is largely related to Bathsheba jilting him, and once again the Author sums up how Boldwood has changed – “A few months earlier Boldwood’s forgetting his husbandry would have been as preposterous an idea as a sailor forgetting he was in a ship.
” Boldwood then confides in Oak when he breaks down “O, Gabriel, I am weak and foolish”. Boldwood cannot “fend off his miserable grief”, but then suddenly he regains his composure, and, like his old self says to Oak “I do feel a little regret occasionally but no woman ever had power over me for any length of time. ” Once again we are fooled into thinking that Boldwood’s problems may be over, and his ill mental disposition recovering, but Boldwood is just covering up his true feelings, and he is feeling just as rejected and obsessed as before. This is the last we hear of Boldwood until Chapter forty-eight.
In this chapter Bathsheba is told of Troy’s death, this occurs at the corn exchange and Boldwood is there. When he learns what Bathsheba was told from another man, his buried hope is exhumed. He had been on his way to recovery, but now – “A strange fire lighted up Boldwood’s eye, and his face flushed with the suppressed excitement of an unutterable thought. ” He then picks up the now-unconscious Bathsheba and deposits her on a sofa in a private room, savouring the moment and even thinking to himself how wonderful the it is despite the fact she is completely unaware of it.