One of the lovers of Bathsheba is Boldwood. He is a middle-aged man with a beautiful face and stern looks. He is a rich farmer not very much interested in women. In the beginning we find that Boldwood is quite careless about Bathsheba or any other woman. We can quote Mrs. Coggan describing Boldwood in these words:
“Never was such a hopeless man for a woman! He has been courted by sixes and sevens- all the girls gentle and simple, for miles round have tried him. Jane Perkins worked for him for two months like a slave, and the two Miss Taylors spent a year upon him, and he cost Farmer Ives daughter nights of tears and twenty pounds worth of new clothes but Lord! – the money might as well have been thrown out of the window.”
The picture of Boldwood as drawn by Hardy makes him a stern bachelor who is full of self-restraint and self-control but once his passions are aroused he becomes as passionate as a man can be capable of strong passions. An eminent critic says about Boldwood:
“His equilibrium disturbed, ‘he was in extremity of at once. Altogether, he seems a man of iron self-control, a discipline which is the only alternative to an unbalanced frenzy. His final insanity seems inevitable; several times in the course of the story he trembles on the brink. Although this inhuman quality tends to banish the sympathy of the reader, there are moments when he appears a pathetic figure and it must also be remembered that the situation in which he is placed is primarily due to Bathsheba’s girlish prank with the valentine.”
The one incident that reveals the profound passion of Boldwood is a letter sent by Bathsheba to him. In this letter the words written on the top were “Marry Me.” This fired the passion of love in the heart of Boldwood. After receiving this letter, he became literally mad for Bathsheba. He often felt that he will be successful in marrying Bathsheba. The effect of the letter has been described by Hardy in the most graphic manner.
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“Since the receipt of the missive in the morning Boldwood had felt the symmetry of his existence to be slowly getting distorted in the direction of an ideal passion. The disturbance was as the first floating weed to Columbus the contemptibility little suggesting possibilities of the infinitely great. When Boldwood went to bed he placed the valentine in the corner of the looking glass. He was conscious of its presence even when his back was turned upon it. It was the first time in Boldwood’s life that such an event had occurred. The same fascination that caused him to think it an act which had a deliberate motive prevented him from regarding it as an impertinence. He looked again.at the direction. The mysterious influences of right invested the writing with the presence of the unknown writer. Somebody’s some woman’s hand had travelled softly over the paper bearing his name: her unrevealed eyes had watched every curve as she formed it, her brain had seen him in imagination the whole. Why should she have imagined him? Here mouth were the lips red or pale, plump or creased? – had curved itself to a certain expression as the pen went on the corners had moved with all their natural tremulousness: what had been the expression? The vision of the woman writing, as a supplement to the words written, had no individuality. She was a misty shape, and well she might be, considering that her original was at that moment sound asleep and oblivious of all over and letter-writing under the sky. Whenever Boldwood dozed she took a form, and comparatively ceased to be a vision: when he awoke, there was the letter justifying the dream. The substance of the epistle had occupied him but little in comparison with the fact of its arrival. He suddenly wondered if anything more might be found in the envelope and searched it. Nothing more was there. Boldwood looked, as he had a hundred times the preceding day, at the insistent red seal: “Marry me, he said aloud. The solemn and reserved yeoman again closed that letter. and stuck it in the frame of the glass. In doing so he caught sight of his reflected features, worn in expression, and insubstantial in form. He saw how closely compressed was his mouth and that his eyes were widespread and vacant. Feeling uneasy and dissatisfied with himself for this nervous excitability he returned to bed.”
From the very beginning we can see that Boldwood is somewhat insane. He is an introvert and most of the introverts are abnormal. That is why he attacks Troy and shoots him. As a lover, Boldwood is a total failure. It is on account of the abnormal state of his mind that he committed the crime of shooting Troy and for this he is awarded imprisonment.