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Seven Reasons to Love Gabriel Oak

For some reason when it comes to classic literature there seems to be no man more coveted or admired than Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Women worldwide swoon over him and I'll admit I was one. That is, until I read Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd and was introduced to Gabriel Oak. While there are similarities between the two, ie: rejected first time marriage proposals, an attraction to strong willed women, and a strong/silent disposition, Gabriel Oak stole my heart and will forever (in my opinion) be superior to Mr. Darcy and here's why:

1. He's Calm and Steadfast.

Gabriel Oak is the most steady character in the book. His strength never waivers and he never veers away from doing the right thing. He's counted on for his knowledge, advice and is the only person Bathsheba can truly trust. Even when things aren't going his way - he remains calm and collected.

2. He Takes Rejection Well.

When we are first introduced to Gabriel Oak, he's a bachelor making a meager living as a farmer. While not making buckets of money, he has a business plan and goals for his future - which he details in his first proposal to Bathsheba. She refuses him. Instead of getting all broken up about it, he graciously leaves her alone - and though their paths cross in the future he never bothers her about it again. Thank goodness he's not a needy, whiner.

3. He's Dependable and Quick to Act.

One of the first heroic acts that Oak performs is that of putting out a fire in a town that he's merely passing through. The guy didn't even need to get involved - but he jumps right in to do the right thing which is help put out the fire. This eventually leads to his reconnecting with Bathsheba who has inherited her uncle's farm and is now in search of a shepherd. Now I'm not sure if going to work for someone who has rejected your marriage proposal is the best idea in the world - but it works for these two.

4. He's Loyal (almost to a fault).

When Oak comes to work for Bathsheba, he notices that some townspeople have negative attitudes toward her. Oak does not tolerate this. Throughout the entire story, he's incredibly loyal to Bathsheba and is always looking out for her best interests. When she marries Sergeant Troy (he advises her against it) he stays by her side even after she ignores his counsel. Later, during their wedding feast a fierce summer storm breaks out. While Troy is busy boozing, it's Gabriel who is beside Bathsheba working tirelessly to protect their harvest from ruin.

5. He's a Romantic.

"I shall do one thing in this life -- one thing certain -- that is, love you, and long for you, and KEEP WANTING YOU till I die." 
Ahhhh, if that doesn't get you, I don't know what will. #swooning

6. His Respect for Bathsheba is Everything.

This is probably my favorite thing about Gabriel Oak - he never tries to overpower Bathsheba. Throughout the entire novel he sees her as an equal and a companion. He works side by side with her and their comradery sets the tone for their entire relationship. Seriously, their love is #relationshipgoals.

"Theirs was that substantial affection which arises (if any arises at all) when the two who are thrown together begin first by knowing the rougher sides of each other's character, and not the best till further on, the romance growing up in the interstices of a mass of hard prosaic reality. This good-fellowship -- CAMARADERIE -- usually occurring through similarity of pursuits, is unfortunately seldom superadded to love between the sexes, because men and women associate, not in their labours, but in their pleasures merely. Where, however, happy circumstance permits its development, the compounded feeling proves itself to be the only love which is strong as death -- that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown, beside which the passion usually called by the name is evanescent as steam."

7. He's really really ridiculously good looking.

I know, I know - but come on! I couldn't help myself.

1 comment

  1. I love Gabriel Oak too! See, I will always love Darcy, but my love for him has always been based on empathy, we have a lot of similar personality traits and we would be best friends. Now, Gabriel ... I have this great admiration, he has so many qualities that I would like to have, there is this strength in him that is not oppressive; Hardy describes him almost as an element of nature and so ethereal. There is this ability in him to see beyond his personal perspective, which makes him extremely honest and altruistic in his love for Bathsheba. To tell the truth of the opening paragraph of Far from the Madding Crowd, which describes his smile, onwards my love has only grown. I would like for more and more readers to get to know and admire this character and for him to penetrate more into pop culture, because he represents an archetype of masculinity unfortunately very rare, in recent years the archetypes of romantic heroes are becoming increasingly abusive. It is fascinating that a man of the victorian 19th century wrote a male character with this amalgam of sweetness and tenacity.