Summary and Analysis Chapter 54



Boldwood, walking easily and steadily, arrived at the jail. He rang, said something to the porter in a low tone, and entered. "The door was closed behind him, and he walked the world no more."

When Gabriel heard of the catastrophe, he rushed to Boldwood's house, arriving some five minutes after Boldwood's departure. The scene was dreadful. Bathsheba sat on the floor beside the body, Troy's head pillowed in her lap. "With one hand she held her handkerchief to his breast . . . though scarcely a single drop of blood had flowed, and with the other she tightly clasped one of his. The household convulsion had made her herself again. . . . Deeds of endurance which seem ordinary in philosophy are rare in conduct, and Bathsheba was astonishing all . . . for her philosophy was her conduct."

She ordered Gabriel to ride for a surgeon. In town, Gabriel also stopped to notify the authorities and so learned of Boldwood's surrender. Meanwhile, Bathsheba had Troy moved home. Liddy admitted the doctor, telling him that Bathsheba had locked herself in the room with the body. She had left orders that the surgeon and Parson Thirdly were to be admitted.

The surgeon found Troy's body lit by candles and draped in white. Returning to Oak and the parson, the doctor remarked in a subdued voice, "It is all done. . . . this mere girl! She must have the nerve of a stoic!"

"The heart of a wife, merely," Bathsheba whispered behind him. Then, silently, she sank to the floor. She had a series of fainting fits that for a time seemed serious, but the surgeon attended her. Liddy was told to watch over her during the night. She heard her mistress moan, "O it is my fault — how can I live!"


Bathsheba's display of strength reminds the surgeon of the ancient stoics; it is also reminiscent of the great women of Greek tragedy. Then, having done what was required of her, Bathsheba can yield to weakness (and Victorian tradition) and faint away. This was a common frailty in the women of Victorian times, both in literature and in life. Bathsheba's stern conscience, which continues to trouble her, is another typical Victorian characteristic.