Wildeve is seen by others as a man who made a good start in life but has come down. The former engineer is now the keeper of the Quiet Woman Inn, an occupation which, in many ways, suits him perfectly. Compared with Mrs. Yeobright or Clym, he is considered to be a person of little consequence. Like Eustacia, he is a hedonist, happier in the company of a woman than he is, perhaps, among men at his inn. Hardy speaks of him as the typical "man of sentiment" always yearning for the remote, "the Rousseau of Egdon."
Wildeve himself sometimes complains about his "curse of inflammability" in relation to women, but his personality is impossible to define in isolation. He finds nothing amiss in professing to love both Thomasin and Eustacia at the same time, for different reasons, of course. Unlike Eustacia's, his feelings are never deep, only easily aroused. Although he is attractive to women the elements in his personality and appearance that make him so do not work with men. His lifestyle is impulsive, from his quickly responding to Eustacia's signal fire in the beginning of the novel to his unhesitating leap into the stream with all his clothes on to try to rescue Eustacia. His death when he attempts to rescue Eustacia does not seem like a very great loss.