Summary and Analysis Chapter 31



To avoid Boldwood at his return, Bathsheba planned to visit Liddy, who, granted a week's holiday, was visiting her sister. Bathsheba set out on foot and, after walking about two miles, saw coming toward her the very man she was seeking to evade. Boldwood was obviously disturbed by her letter of rejection and expressed his feeling for Bathsheba in these words: "You know what that feeling is. . . . A thing as strong as death. No dismissal by a hasty letter affects that." He pleaded with her, claiming to be beyond himself, as Bathsheba feared he indeed was. Referring to the valentine, he repeated that she must have had some feeling for him. Bathsheba tried to explain it away by saying, "You overrate my capacity for love."

Boldwood countered that he knew she was not the cold woman she claimed to be. "You have love enough, but it is turned to a new channel. I know where." Bathsheba delayed her reply but could not deny the accusation. Boldwood became unreasonably angry and launched into a long, distraught harangue. "Bathsheba, sweet, lost coquette, pardon me! I've been blaming you, threatening you, behaving like a churl to you, when he's the greatest sinner. He stole your dear heart away with his unfathomable lies! . . . I pray God he may not come into my sight, for I may be tempted beyond myself . . . yes, keep him away from me."

With that, he slowly went on his way. Bathsheba, unable to comprehend "such astounding wells of fevered feeling in a still man," feared for Troy. Previously she had been in control of herself. "But now there was no reserve. In her distraction, instead of advancing further, she walked up and down, beating the air with her fingers, pressing her brow, and sobbing brokenly to herself." Copper clouds appeared in the sky, presaging inclement weather. Then the stars came out. Bathsheba saw nothing. "Her troubled spirit was far away with Troy."


Boldwood, obviously overwrought, has been pushed to the point of potential violence. He bears little resemblance to the remote, dignified gentleman we first encountered at Bathsheba's house. Keep in mind the curse which Boldwood places on Troy: "May he ache, and wish, and curse, and yearn — as I do now!"