Far From the Madding Crowd

Far From the Madding Crowd

The Valentine Symbol Analysis

The Valentine Symbol Icon

As a new, confident mistress of a farm, Bathsheba suddenly has the position and the freedom to write to others and be listened to, as well to complete a variety of business and personal transactions. Although she’s gained such power, she does not fully recognize the responsibility that comes with it. The valentine that Bathsheba dashes off to Boldwood, with its seal saying “Marry me,” thus represents Bathsheba’s tragic flaw for which she will have to atone. The valentine is meant to be playful and frivolous, hardly a true declaration of her feelings for Boldwood. In fact, Bathsheba only sends it because her pride is hurt that Boldwood won’t pay any attention to her, even though she hates to be ogled and gossiped about by the other villagers. She sends it off with little regard for the consequences it might have. Like other elements in the novel—the biblical or Greek mythological allusions, for instance—the valentine straddles comedy and tragedy, frivolity and great seriousness. It also is at the center of Bathsheba’s own transformation over the course of the book, as she recognizes that her actions do, in fact, have consequences, and that part of her position of authority requires acknowledging her responsibilities to others.

The Valentine Quotes in Far From the Madding Crowd

The Far From the Madding Crowd quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Valentine. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Epic Allusion, Tragedy, and Illusions of Grandeur Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Far From the Madding Crowd published in 2003.
Chapter 13 Quotes

So very idly and unreflectingly was this deed done. Of love, as a spectacle Bathsheba had a fair knowledge; but of love subjectively she knew nothing.

Related Characters: Bathsheba Everdene
Related Symbols: The Valentine
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

Boldwood’s blindness to the difference between approving of what circumstance suggests, and originating what it does not, was well matched by Bathsheba’s insensibility to the possible great issues of little beginnings.

Related Characters: Bathsheba Everdene, Mr. Boldwood
Related Symbols: The Valentine
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Valentine Symbol Timeline in Far From the Madding Crowd

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Valentine appears in Far From the Madding Crowd. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 13
Epic Allusion, Tragedy, and Illusions of Grandeur Theme Icon
Conflict and the Laws of Nature Theme Icon
Pride and Penance Theme Icon
After a silence, Bathsheba says she forgot about a valentine she’d bought for little Teddy Coggan. She writes a valentine and dips it in the... (full context)
Chapter 14
Conflict and the Laws of Nature Theme Icon
Pride and Penance Theme Icon
...seal. Suddenly his quiet existence seems to distort and invite passion. Disturbed, he places the valentine in the corner of his mirror and goes to bed. He can’t decide if it... (full context)
Chapter 15
Women in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Pride and Penance Theme Icon
...confusion, Boldwood protests that the “fun” lies in trying to identify the sender of a valentine, though he says “fun” like “torture.” Returning home, he contemplates this new information. (full context)
Chapter 18
Women in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Pride and Penance Theme Icon
...wouldn’t have spoken if he hadn’t been led to hope—and she realizes that it’s the valentine. (full context)
Pride and Penance Theme Icon
Bathsheba stammers that she never should have sent the valentine, as it was thoughtless. Boldwood exclaims that it was not thoughtlessness, but rather the beginnings... (full context)