Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
After his rescue, Troy was dropped by the ship in America, where he stayed and worked for awhile. When he returns to England, he makes no effort to contact Bathsheba. He has no plans to continue his married life with her. Instead, he joins a traveling circus. The circus visits Greenhill for the annual sheep fair. Bathsheba is in the audience. Seeing her and knowing that she will recognize his voice, Troy decides to disguise his appearance and say little. He succeeds in hiding his identity from Bathsheba. At the next performance, however, he is recognized by Pennyways, the former bailiff. Pennyways writes a note to Bathsheba that explains that her husband is still alive. Troy sees the bailiff give the note to Bathsheba and grabs it from her hand before she can realize what is happening. Troy then runs away.
The plot grows more complicated with Pennyway's discovery of Troy's return. Troy, selfish as always, wants to protect himself and his current lifestyle. If Bathsheba discovers he is alive, he fears that his current fun will be ruined; and he wants to make sure she is financially secure before he reappears in her life. In desperation of protecting his identity, he snatches Pennyway's note of explanation from Bathsheba's hand. No reader can forgive Troy for this action nor for abandoning his wife or hiding his identity from her.
The chapter is filled with coincidences that stretch beyond normal dramatic irony. They include the fact that Boldwood secures a very prominent seat for Bathsheba so that Troy can spy her easily before the performance begins; thus, he is able to disguise himself and not be discovered. It is also coincidental that Bathsheba, who has not been enjoying life, even wants to go to the performance and that Troy happens to be an actor in it. Finally, it is coincidental that Pennyways is also there to see Troy; Bathsheba does not recognize her husband and yet the past bailiff does. The reader must simply accept these coincidences as the hand of Fate once again at work.