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- The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (1962, Paperback)
Newson" is in quest of a "relation," as she has told Elizabeth-Jane, whose name is Michael Henchard, whom she had last seen at the fair in Weydon-Priors.
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However, she has not told Elizabeth-Jane of her true relationship to Henchard, the hay-trusser. On the fairgrounds, whose trade has considerably diminished with the passage of time, Susan comes upon the "furmity woman.
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At first the hag does not recollect the shameful event. However, upon reflection she recalls that a man who had figured in such an event had returned about a year after the sale. He left word with her that if a woman were to ask for him, the furmity woman should tell her that he has gone to Casterbridge. Elizabeth-Jane and Susan find lodging for the night before setting out for Casterbridge.
This short chapter, which depicts Susan's determination to locate her real husband, serves to explain the long passage of time and to raise two rather interesting problems.
The Mayor of Casterbridge
There must be a definite need for Susan to find Henchard, or else under the circumstances she would never want to see him again. Susan's ruined life is a direct result of Henchard's rashness; by extension, Elizabeth-Jane owes her very existence to Henchard's folly; Donald Farfrae receives his start from Henchard, and indeed Henchard's wild speculations and superstitious nature only help to advance Farfrae; and Lucetta's death is a direct outcome of her past relationship with Henchard. Hardy did not require us to like Michael Henchard; however, he has so structured the novel that we cannot forget him.
Henchard is the novel. How is it, then, that the other characters in the novel keep our attention? In the case of Donald and Elizabeth-Jane, the reader knows they will marry before the end of the novel.
Concerning Lucetta, the reader is thoroughly aware that she will not marry Henchard. It is only the pitfalls and vicissitudes of their lives that provide interest and suspense. Thus our interest in these characters is aroused in direct proportion to the catalytic effect that Henchard's character and behavior have in motivating their actions.
Throughout the novel is felt the influence of King Lear, Shakespeare's massive tragedy. One recalls that Lear rashly disowns his true and loving daughter, falls from the heights of regality into suffering and madness, and is briefly reconciled with her before his death.
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The realization of this structural parallel strengthens our knowledge that the unity of the work is predicated on Henchard's character. After all, his rashness precipitates the events which, once started, move unrelentingly on. The first two chapters of the novel and the very last serve as a frame for the core of the novel's story. The opening chapters display the unhappy events that initiate the tale, and the last chapter rounds them off, thus bringing the plot full circle.
That is, Henchard enters the novel impoverished and miserable, but young, vigorous, and still master of his own fate. Farfrae, after a period as a widower, renews his interest in Elizabeth-Jane.
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They are married and Henchard, when he comes to deliver a wedding gift, finds Newson enjoying his position as the bride's father. Heartbroken, Henchard leaves and shortly afterwards dies in an abandoned hut, attended only by the humblest and simplest of his former workmen.
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The novel closes when Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane find the place where he has died and read his terrible will of complete renunciation. Next About The Mayor of Casterbridge. Removing book from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title. Are you sure you want to remove bookConfirmation and any corresponding bookmarks? Sign In.
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (1962, Paperback)
The Mayor of Casterbridge Thomas Hardy. Pop Quiz! After Michael sells his wife, he pledges never to drink alcohol for how long?