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The main plot of Far from the Madding Crowd grows out of characters, and the sub-plot grows out of natural situations. Bathsheba Everdene is a charming and beautiful woman who, prompted by her vanity and pride, rejects the proposal of marriage offered by Gabriel Oak, for she thinks she is better than he. Oak, ironically, proves to be indispensable to her through the thick and the thin of her life. Nonetheless, the immature Bathsheba overlooks the worthy Oak and becomes infatuated with Sergeant Troy, a philanderer. She marries him, although he is already involved with Fanny. By the time of her marriage, Bathsheba has already set the tragic wheels of fate in motion by her foolish encouragement of Farmer Boldwood. When he ignores her, she sends him a valentine to attract his attention. He takes seriously the seal, "marry me," that she adds to the card. His life becomes an obsessive pursuit of this woman he loves.
Bathsheba's life is ruined by her marriage to Troy. She resents his selfish ways, his gambling, and his refusal to work on the farm. When Bathsheba learns about his affair with Fanny, it is too late. The girl and her child are already dead, and Troy deserts her. When Bathsheba is ready to accept her mistake in encouraging Boldwood and marry him out of pity and duty, Troy dramatically reappears on the scene. Appropriately, the deranged Boldwood, who is still obsessed with Bathsheba, shoots him. The death of Troy and the incarceration of Boldwood allow Bathsheba and Gabriel to finally acknowledge their love for one another. At the end of the book, they marry quietly, and the villagers rejoice.
The rustics provide comic relief throughout the plot. They act as the chorus by providing comments on important happenings in the novels. Above all, they provide us with comedy of character, comedy of situation, and verbal humor, all of which gives some relief to the building tension in the novel. They also contribute significantly to the pastoral atmosphere of the play.