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Far from the Madding Crowd narrates the story of the love of three men, Gabriel Oak, Farmer Boldwood, and Sergeant Troy, for the same woman, Bathsheba Everdene. Gabriel Oak is the protagonist of the novel, and the other two men are his antagonists, standing in the way of his marrying Bathsheba.
Bathsheba unexpectedly comes into possession of her rich uncle's farm and property. The shepherd Gabriel serves the young and spirited Bathsheba with unselfish devotion. He is the first to fall in love with her. He proposes marriage to her even before she acquires her uncle's property and is rejected. Bathsheba depends greatly on Gabriel's support but does not regard him as a suitor. Another of her admirers is the neighboring farmer, Boldwood; but Bathsheba does not love him either. The dashing Sergeant Troy loves one of Bathsheba's servants, Fanny Robin. However, after a misunderstanding, he deserts the woman. Eventually, she dies in childbirth in the workhouse. Meanwhile, Troy has captivated and married Bathsheba, but he soon begins to neglect and mistreat her.