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Bathsheba, endowed by Hardy with charm and personality, stands at the center of the novel as the object of three men's attention. She is a slim, tall, and dark-haired beauty who is very concerned with her appearance and her acceptance by others. She is also an independent woman who has a strong hold upon life. She can manage her farm efficiently, as seen in her handling of the dishonest bailiff. She cares about the farm workers, paying personal attention to the payment of their wages and treating them to refreshments. She is not afraid of manual labor, as seen when she helps Gabriel cover the ricks in the midst of the storm. As the lone woman manager, she carries on business transactions with men at the corn market with remarkable skill, on an equal footing with her male peers. As patron of the harvest festival, she reigns supreme.
At the beginning of the novel, Bathsheba is a woman filled with vanity and pride. She often looks at herself in the mirror and admires what she sees. She turns down Gabriel's proposal, for she feels he is beneath her. She is incensed that Boldwood does not pay her attention and manipulates him into loving her. As the novel advances, there is a change in her character for the better. At the end of the novel, she is a mature woman free from vanity and pride. She cleans the tombstone of Fanny Robin, the lover of her husband. She lays Troy out for his final burial. She regrets her ill treatment of Boldwood, and agrees to marry him out of a sense of guilt. And in the end, she realizes the worth of Gabriel and knows he is more than worthy of her.
Sergeant Troy is a tall person with an athletic appearance and handsome features. He comes from a middle class family, is well educated, and has potential, which he seems to give up when he joins the army. His virtues are entirely located in the masculine realm of military showmanship. He strengths are perverted by his moral weakness. He hurts women most, acting out of a selfish sense of the justness in satisfying his own pleasure at their expense. Clean-shaven except for a mustache, he is heart- breakingly attractive to those women who notice only his looks. He is moderately truthful to men, but he tells extravagant lies to women. He wins their hearts by subtle flattery. He is an experienced swordsman and an expert rider. There is dignity in his speech and action. He dazzles Bathsheba by his skill at swordplay in the hollow among the ferns. It is by the quickness and the charm of his manner and speech that he wins her love.
Troy is a selfish man, who thinks only of his own interests. He seems to use Fanny for sexual pleasure and marries Bathsheba because of her financial security. He is also a philanderer. Fate brings him in contact with Fanny Robin, who seems to be full of abiding love and innocence. He hides his love affair with Fanny in order to marry Bathsheba. He leaves the farm when his love affair with Fanny becomes known. He comes back to Weatherbury with the intention of sharing the prosperity of Bathsheba's farm. He is a liar and an unprincipled character. His character cannot stand close scrutiny and analysis, because he will stand exposed.