a mayor of casterbridge

Title: a mayor of casterbridge
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BARRON'S BOOK NOTES THOMAS HARDY'S THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE ^^^^^^^^^^THOMAS HARDY: THE AUTHOR AND HIS TIMES In 1896, following more than 20 years as one of the most popular and most criticized novelists in England, Thomas Hardy announced that he would not write another novel as long as he lived. He kept his word. He refused to give in to critics who had attacked his works as being overly pessimistic and peopled with immoral characters. Looking back at Hardy's novels today, it is hard to imagine that they sparked such violent responses from Victorian critics. Yet the attacks on Hardy's last two major novels, Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, were particularly fierce. Many libraries banned Jude from their shelves, and one bishop announced that the book was so indecent that he had thrown it into a fire. Hardy responded that the bishop had probably burned the book because he couldn't burn its author. From his appearance and personality, Thomas Hardy would seem an unlikely man to provoke such controversy. He was small, quiet, and shy. He was a country person rather than a city person, and the characters of his novels have a realistic, earthy quality about them. Hardy spent only a small part of his life in London. Instead, he built a house in Dorchester, not far from his birthplace in Upper Bockhampton. While the house was being built, Hardy and his wife lived in Dorchester, and there he wrote The Mayor of Casterbridge. Dorchester is clearly the model for Casterbridge. The careful descriptions of the buildings and roads of Casterbridge in the novel are a product of Hardy's many walks through Dorchester. Nearly all of Hardy's important novels and stories are set in the agricultural areas or towns of Dorset in Southwest England near Dorchester, the region Hardy called "Wessex." This was the area in which he grew up in the mid-1800s. In Hardy's time, Dorset was still a rural and unsophisticated area inhabited by rustic and superstitious people. For Hardy, Wessex was an ideal location for him to present a world in which nature plays a key role, people work hard for their living, and fate has a strong hold over human life. Hardy's series of works set in the area are known as the "Wessex Novels." Some of the best known of these Wessex novels are: Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, and The Mayor of Casterbridge. The Mayor of Casterbridge is the least typical of these novels because of its focus on town rather than rural life and because of the concentration on one character. Yet Casterbridge is clearly a Wessex town, caught in the past and just awakening to nineteenth-century social change. And Michael Henchard is certainly a Wessex character, attempting to deal with his fate. Hardy was born in Upper Bockhampton on June 2, 1840, and wrote most of his important novels between 1870 and 1895. Yet, as in many of his novels, the action of The Mayor of Casterbridge occurs between the years 1830 and 1850. During Hardy's lifetime, British cities were growing and England was rapidly becoming industrialized. However, he chose to write about the rural, preindustrial England of his father's era. Why did Hardy concentrate on the past? There are several possible reasons. For one thing, he was concerned more with rural than urban customs. England of the 1830s and 1840s was a simpler place in which to live than England of the 1880s. Hardy was not a social critic like Charles Dickens. He wasn't out to change the way people of his time lived. Instead, he wanted to show that important elements of human life are timeless. He once said that what is essential in life is that which is repeated. By linking the past and the present in his novels, he hoped to demonstrate those aspects of human morality that are repeated in generation after generation. By looking at life in a nonindustrial setting rather than in a complicated city, he could view the essential elements of human existence. Hardy's father was a master mason, which meant the Hardy family was middle class. At age 16, Hardy was apprenticed to an architect whose specialty was the restoration of churches. During his apprenticeship, Hardy developed a greater respect for the simplicities of country life and its traditional institutions and architecture. This appreciation is obvious in the careful descriptions of architectural structures in The Mayor of Casterbridge. When he was 22, Hardy left Dorchester for London. There he began writing essays and poetry, studying Greek tragedy, and reading modern philosophy. He stayed in London for four years but was never really happy there. In 1867, he returned home to continue restoring churches and to begin his literary career in earnest. His first novel, The Poor Man and the Lady, was never published but played an important part in Hardy's career nevertheless. It satirized the trivial nature of London life in contrast with the simple honesty of the country. George Meredith, a major writer of the period, didn't like the book very much and suggested that Hardy give up satire and write more popular, well-plotted novels. Hardy took Meredith's advice. His next novel, Desperate Remedies, was published in 1871 and was only a modest success. But Hardy soon followed with the first three Wessex novels. The third, Far from the Madding Crowd, earned Hardy fame and enough money to marry and become a full-time writer. Between 1871 and 1897, Hardy published 14 novels and three volumes of short stories. The novels became progressively darker and more pessimistic over time as Hardy showed characters increasingly dominated by fate and by guilt over their misdeeds. Far from the Madding Crowd (an early novel) ends on a happy note, with Bathsheba finally marrying the right man, Gabriel Oak. The Mayor of Casterbridge (a middle novel) ends on a calm note, with Elizabeth-Jane marrying Farfrae and living a peaceful, if dull, life. Jude the Obscure (his last important novel) ends on a totally bleak note, with Jude Fawley's life completely shattered. Hardy's work was very popular, but it was also often attacked by critics. They were shocked by the earthiness of some of the characters and by the sense of hopelessness within the environment. Hardy found himself having to change some of his characterizations or some of the scenes in his novels in order to please publishers of magazines serializing his works, his readers, or his critics. Making these changes annoyed him. Finally, when the criticism became too intense, he chose to stop writing novels entirely. From 1897 until his death on January 11, 1928, in Dorchester, Hardy wrote poetry and stories exclusively. He published more than 800 poems, the most famous of which was The Dynasts, a long epic poem about the Napoleonic Wars. Hardy also had a severe critic inside his own home--his wife. Emma Hardy was the niece of an archdeacon in the church of England. As such, she considered herself socially superior to her husband. At first their marriage was happy, but it deteriorated. For one thing, she never liked living in Dorchester and wanted to stay in London. She was also ambitious and wanted Hardy to be more ambitious as well. Some readers wonder if Hardy's pessimistic outlook in his novels may have been influenced by his unhappy marriage. Hardy may have felt strong links to the past but he was also a writer of his time. Like many Victorian writers, Hardy was troubled by a dwindling of his religious faith. He had carefully read the writings of Charles Darwin and other scientists and had lost some of his belief that a controlling force governed the universe. This loss of faith is reflected in the bleakness of the landscape in Wessex and the harshness of the fate that plagues many of Hardy's major characters. Hardy's novels also reflect Victorian realism. They are filled not with knights and other Romantic characters, but with real people encountering their own weaknesses and trials. Yet for all their realism, there is also a certain sensational quality in Hardy's novels. Most of his books were serialized in magazines before being published as books. Magazine readers demanded a carefully developed plot and at least one major event, such as a crime, murder, seduction, or desertion, in every episode. Hardy was sometimes annoyed by having to "overplot" his books, but he didn't really care that much in the long run. He felt that his novel writing was "mere journeywork" and not art. He reserved his true artistry for his poetry. Hardy's novels are still popular today largely because of their qualities and themes that seem particularly modern. It was these themes that caused much of Hardy's problems with his critics. His works are deeply psychological, filled with misguided love, and closely concerned with the thoughts and feelings of women. All of Hardy's major works deal with unhappy relationships and several with divorce. Tess (of Tess of the D'Urbervilles) and Jude (of Jude the Obscure) are both seduced by the "wrong" mates. Because of her seduction, Tess becomes the victim of sexual double standards and is deserted by a husband whom we might label a "male chauvinist." Jude's ill-fated marriage fails, and he contemplates suicide. Eustacia Vye (of The Return of the Native) drowns or commits suicide as she attempts to rendezvous with her lover. Michael Henchard (of The Mayor of Casterbridge) deserts his family and can never quite escape the psychological guilt that plagues him throughout the rest of his life. Hardy's critics were shocked by what they regarded as wantonness and pessimism, but most modern readers are more surprised by how contemporary Hardy's themes and characters seem. The Mayor of Casterbridge brings together all of the elements of Hardy's style, thinking, and background. It is episodic, filled with coincidences and sensational events, yet carefully plotted. Its characters are real people who demonstrate human weaknesses. Fate, rather than God, dominates the environment and directs the action. Architecture and artifacts are carefully examined. Yet this novel, more than any of Hardy's books, deals with the attempt of one human being to control his own life. In that sense, The Mayor of Casterbridge makes the most positive statement about the power of human personality of all of Hardy's work. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: THE PLOT It is Fair Day in the large Wessex village of Weydon-Priors. Michael Henchard, a young hay-trusser looking for work, enters the village with his wife and infant daughter. Seeking refreshment, the three go into a tent where an old woman is selling furmity, a liquid pudding made of boiled wheat, eggs, sugar, and spices. Henchard consumes too many bowls of furmity spiked with rum. Feeling confined by his marriage and spurred by drunkenness, Henchard threatens to auction his family. The auction begins as a kind of cruel joke, but Susan Henchard in anger retaliates by leaving with a sailor who makes the highest bid. Henchard regrets his rash act the next day, but he is unable to find his family. He vows not to drink again for 21 years, his present age. Exactly eighteen years pass. Susan and her daughter Elizabeth-Jane come back to the fair, seeking news about Henchard. The sailor has been lost at sea, and Susan is returning to her "rightful" husband. At the infamous furmity tent, they learn Henchard has moved to Casterbridge, where he has become a prosperous grain merchant and even mayor. When Henchard learns that his family has returned, he is determined to right his old wrong. He devises a plan for courting and marrying Susan again, and for adopting her daughter. A young Scotsman named Donald Farfrae enters Casterbridge on the same day as do Susan and Elizabeth-Jane. Henchard takes an instant liking to the total stranger and convinces Farfrae to stay on in Casterbridge as his right-hand man. Henchard even confides to Farfrae the two greatest secrets of his life: the sale of his wife and the affair he has had with a Jersey woman, Lucetta, whose reputation has been destroyed by the affair. Henchard is perplexed about how to make amends to both women. Henchard remarries Susan, who dies soon afterward, leaving behind a letter to be opened on Elizabeth-Jane's wedding day. Henchard nevertheless reads the letter and learns that his real daughter died in infancy and that the present Elizabeth-Jane is actually Susan and the sailor's daughter. Henchard immediately cools toward Elizabeth-Jane. Henchard also grows jealous of Farfrae's rising influence in both Henchard's business and in Casterbridge. The two men quarrel and Henchard fires Farfrae, who then sets up a successful competing grain business. Henchard begins rash speculation in wheat in an effort to wipe out Farfrae, but he fails miserably in the attempt. Henchard is rapidly going bankrupt. Soon after Susan's death, Lucetta Templeman, Henchard's former paramour, comes to Casterbridge to marry Henchard. In order to provide Henchard with a respectable reason for visiting her, Lucetta suggests that Elizabeth-Jane move in with her. Henchard tries to force Lucetta to marry him, but she is unwilling. She has fallen in love with Farfrae and soon marries him. Henchard's business and love life are failing; his social position in Casterbridge is also eroding. The final blow comes when the woman who ran the furmity tent in Weydon-Priors is arrested in Casterbridge. When she spitefully reveals Henchard's infamous auctioning of his wife and child, Henchard surprisingly admits his guilt. The news, which is harmful to Henchard's reputation, rapidly travels through the town. Henchard is soon bankrupt and forced by his poverty to become Farfrae's employee. Henchard's 21-year abstinence also ends, and he begins drinking heavily again. He moves to the poorest section of town. Farfrae and Lucetta buy Henchard's old house and furniture. The Scotsman then completes his displacement of Henchard by becoming mayor of Casterbridge. Later, Henchard challenges Farfrae to a fight to the death. Henchard is on the verge of winning when he comes to his senses and gives up. As the mayor's wife, Lucetta becomes the stylish and important woman she has longed to be. But she fears her secret affair with Henchard, if revealed, might destroy her marriage to Farfrae. She begs Henchard to return the damning letters she had written him years before. Henchard finds the letters in his old house and reads some of them to Farfrae. He intends to reveal their author as well but relents at the last minute. Later, he asks Jopp, a former employee, to deliver the letters to Lucetta. Henchard doesn't realize Jopp hates both him and Lucetta. Jopp shares the letters with some of the lowlife of the town. Excited by the scandal, these people plan a "skimmity-ride"--a mock parade to ridicule adulterers through the town to shame Henchard and Lucetta. Lucetta sees herself paraded in effigy, and the shock kills her. Henchard reconciles with Elizabeth-Jane, who continues to believe Henchard is her father. He sees his final chance for happiness crumbling, however, when Elizabeth-Jane's real father, the sailor Newson, comes to Casterbridge to find his daughter. Out of affection for Susan, Newson reveals that he pretended to be lost at sea so that Susan, who hated their relationship, could return freely to Henchard. Henchard lies to the sailor, telling him Elizabeth-Jane died soon after her mother's death. Newson leaves, but Henchard worries that the sailor might return to reclaim Elizabeth-Jane. During the following year, Henchard's life becomes fairly settled. He lives with Elizabeth-Jane and runs a small seed store. Farfrae begins courting Elizabeth-Jane, and the two plan to marry. Then the sailor returns, and Henchard flees Casterbridge. Henchard appears at Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae's wedding to deliver a present. Elizabeth-Jane spurns him, and Henchard sees that Newson has taken over as father of the bride--a role Henchard can never play. He leaves Casterbridge broken-hearted. A few days later, Elizabeth-Jane discovers Henchard's present, a bird in a cage. The unattended bird has died of starvation. Touched, she and Farfrae go in search of Henchard. Too late, they learn he has just died in the hovel where he had been living with the humblest of his former employees. The young couple read Henchard's pitiful will, in which Henchard asks that no one remember him. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: MICHAEL HENCHARD The Mayor of Casterbridge is almost completely dominated by one character--Michael Henchard, the itinerant hay-trusser who becomes mayor of a Wessex town. Even when Henchard is not present, the other characters always seem to be talking about him or wondering how to deal with him. He is larger than life, as are his successes and failures. As you read The Mayor of Casterbridge, you are likely to be impressed by Michael Henchard, but you may have trouble deciding whether you admire, loathe, pity, or condemn him. Some readers see Henchard as a victim of a fickle fate, while others feel that he deserves all of the anguish he has to endure in the course of the novel. Henchard has a special moral code all his own. Hardy subtitles the novel, "A Story of a Man of Character." What do you think he means by the word character? One noted critic, Irving Howe, states that character "indicates energy and pride of personal being." The word character also implies consistency. Those three terms--energy, pride, and consistency--clearly summarize Michael Henchard. Henchard's energy is amazing. You might think of him as a billiard ball in constant motion. He is a man of action. He rushes headlong, bounding from one impetuous act to another. He may regret an action, such as auctioning his family, but he never tries to take back anything he has done. Instead, he may do something else, equally rash, in order to make amends for his first action. For example, he readily takes Susan back into his life and just as readily admits his guilt when he is confronted by the furmity woman. Pride is another major character trait of Michael Henchard. His personal pride separates him from the other people around him. It is at the core of his successes as well as his failures. Hardy points out Henchard's pride throughout the novel, starting with his initial description of the main character on page 1. Henchard's walk is that of a skilled countryman--not that of a general laborer--and "in the turn and plant of each foot there was, further, a dogged and cynical indifference personal to himself..." Henchard's combination of energy and pride results in his becoming a prosperous merchant and the town leader. However, the combination also proves self-destructive. He is driven to outdo Farfrae, and this leads to the breakup of their friendship and partnership, and, ultimately, to Henchard's bankruptcy. He cannot accept the truth of Elizabeth-Jane's parentage, and he becomes estranged from her as well. In addition, he cannot comfortably allow Lucetta to marry another man. Consistency is another major character trait of Michael Henchard. He is always the same man. His wife Susan points out this consistency several times as she and Elizabeth-Jane seek their "distant kin." In Chapter IX, she says, "He was always so." Do you think Henchard's consistency is an admirable trait? Henchard tells people exactly what he thinks of them, and they know exactly what to expect of him. Yet his inflexibility makes him an almost impossible person to live and work with. Hardy leaves a major question about Henchard for you to answer: Is he a villain who commits evil acts, or is he a pawn of fate? Does he deserve the terrible end that he suffers? Hardy seems to admire Henchard, but he does not allow Henchard to find peace and happiness. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: SUSAN HENCHARD Susan Henchard's personality contrasts with her husband's. While he is active, she is passive. He is certain and enthusiastic; she is confused and bitter. In Chapter II, Hardy describes Susan as being a fatalist. She is resigned to whatever life brings her--even being auctioned off to another man whom she accepts as her new mate. Susan's actions add a fatalistic tone to the whole novel. Yet what happens to her influences much of the action of the novel. Hardy also uses the word "mobility" to describe Susan. She is a moveable person, physically and emotionally. She does not live for herself. Most of her actions are motivated by the desire to help her surviving daughter. She leaves with the sailor in hopes of finding a better life for Elizabeth-Jane, and she returns to Henchard in hopes of helping the second Elizabeth-Jane get ahead in life. Hardy purposefully only sketches Susan for you. She is undeveloped as a character. If she were stronger, she might draw your attention away from Michael Henchard. Think about it. Do you feel real sympathy for what happens to Susan? Yet, when Susan does act or make decisions, she unwittingly influences many of the major events. She leads the family into the furmity tent. She accepts the auction, rather than fighting for her rights as Henchard's wife. She reminds the furmity woman of the auction and of Henchard's whereabouts. She leaves behind the poorly sealed note that reveals Elizabeth-Jane's parentage. She even gives both girls the same name, which adds to Henchard's confusion. Susan Henchard may be a minor character but she has major influence in this novel. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: ELIZABETH-JANE NEWSON Elizabeth-Jane is the embodiment of a proper young woman. She is reserved, innocent, and polite. You may think that some of her views, particularly those she expresses early in the book, are a little prim. For example, she is concerned about Susan's talking with the furmity woman and is shy in approaching Farfrae. By Victorian standards, however, Elizabeth-Jane should be concerned with acting properly at all times. She must live up to her status as a mayor's daughter. Elizabeth-Jane becomes a more interesting and more fully realized character as the book progresses. As the only person in the novel who grows and changes, she works very hard at educating herself academically and socially. She is always trying to improve herself. At the beginning, Elizabeth-Jane may seem to be a prig or a naive small-town girl, but she grows into a gentle, kind-hearted woman. She never becomes cynical. She can even forgive Henchard for his lies to her. Elizabeth-Jane is also the only character who seems to express warm feelings, even love, toward others. Susan and Farfrae are stoical; Henchard and Lucetta are overemotional. One question you will have to answer for yourself is whether Elizabeth-Jane is really a heroine. Does her emergence in a position of strength at the end of the book show that she has actively grown or passively survived? Elizabeth-Jane touches all the other main characters in the novel. First, as a child, then friend, and later, wife. She serves as a sounding-board for the others. Elizabeth-Jane is a listener and confidante, offering protection and advice. She also acts as an outside observer for you. You learn a great deal about Henchard, Susan, Lucetta, and Farfrae from Elizabeth-Jane's interaction with them, and their reaction to her. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: DONALD FARFRAE While Michael Henchard represents energy in the novel, Donald Farfrae represents reason. He thinks more than he feels. He has a sharp business mind and writes every transaction in ledger books. Henchard makes deals with handshakes; Farfrae makes them with contracts. Henchard uses brawn and personality; he even challenges Farfrae to a fight to the death. Farfrae uses intelligence and logic. Notice the difference in the way the two men feel toward each other. Henchard's emotions toward Farfrae are strong ones that range from love to anger to hatred to jealousy. Farfrae's feelings about Henchard are mild ones that range from respect to friendship to annoyance to pity to mild indifference. Farfrae's courtships of both Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane don't show much depth, either. Notice how quickly he turns against Lucetta when he learns of her affair with Henchard and how rapidly he forgets her and moves on to a new relationship with Elizabeth-Jane. You may have mixed feelings about Farfrae. He is admirable in his basic honesty and good will. These qualities win him the respect of most of the people--rich and poor alike--in Casterbridge. But he is also callous in his disregard of Henchard's feelings. He appropriates everything of Henchard's, even his house and furniture, and goes so far as to paint his own name over Henchard's on the signpost when he takes over Henchard's business. Farfrae is successful, but is he the "man of character" that Henchard is? Henchard is always colorful, even in utter defeat; Farfrae is usually drab. Yet Farfrae survives at the end, and Henchard doesn't. Whom do you think Hardy admires more? Whom do you admire more? ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: LUCETTA TEMPLEMAN (LE SUEUR) Throughout the novel, Lucetta seems to play the role of "the other woman." She has an affair with Henchard while he is still technically married to Susan, then she marries Farfrae instead of accepting Henchard's offer to clear her reputation. Lucetta may have changed her name to the properly English Templeman, but Hardy lets you know that she is French at heart. To British readers, her Frenchness implied sensuality and possibly even moral looseness. In Chapter XXII, Hardy writes, "She had arrived at Casterbridge as a Bath lady [a proper Englishwoman], and there were obvious reasons why Jersey [where she was condemned as a loose woman], should drop out of her life." But it never does. Lucetta is flighty and at times conniving. She is also the one character in the novel who feels sexual passion. This sexuality makes her a more interesting character, but it also gets her into trouble. Her rapid romance with Farfrae contrasts greatly with Elizabeth-Jane's slow-building relationship with him. Lucetta is as impulsive as Henchard and even more emotional. Why else would she suffer a stroke at seeing herself paraded in effigy in the skimmity-ride? Like Henchard, Lucetta is also self-destructive. Notice, for example, the letters that she writes to Henchard or her meetings with him after she has married Farfrae. Lucetta also has a snobbish streak that brings her trouble. She wants to be the great lady of Casterbridge. Her attitude causes Joshua Jopp, Henchard's fired grain manager (see below), to want to destroy her and leads the townspeople to enjoy humiliating her. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: RICHARD NEWSON Newson, the sailor who buys Susan and her daughter at the auction in the furmity tent, appears only at the beginning and end of the novel. In each instance, he helps point out glaring weaknesses in Henchard's character. His dealings with Henchard bring out the mayor's self-indulgent side. Each of Newson's appearances also marks a downward turning point in Henchard's life. Hardy never develops Newson's character fully. His role seems mainly to serve as a contrast with Henchard. Newson's willingness to "disappear" so that Susan can find peace of mind shows his kindness and sensitivity. Elizabeth-Jane's loving feelings for him confirm these characteristics. He is also jolly and forgiving, two qualities Henchard doesn't possess. Some readers feel that Newson's reappearance at the end of the novel, after having been deceived by Henchard ten months before, is too much of a coincidence, a convenient opportunity for Hardy to finally push Henchard out of the way. Think about this criticism. Decide if you think Newson's return helps to give the novel a fitting ending or one that is too contrived. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: JOSHUA JOPP Joshua Jopp is an almost standard villain, the type of character who often appears in a Dickens novel. Feeling that he has been wronged by Henchard and put down by Lucetta, he bears grudges toward both. Jopp is a poisonous influence on the action of the novel. Like a rat, he appears most often at night or in dark places. He directly causes Lucetta's destruction by helping to instigate the skimmity-ride. When Henchard moves in with Jopp, their association symbolizes Henchard's tremendous downfall. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: MRS. GOODENOUGH, THE FURMITY WOMAN The furmity woman appears four times in The Mayor of Casterbridge--twice in Weydon-Priors, first playing a major role in the auction, and then, 18 years later, giving Susan the message that leads her [Susan] to Casterbridge. Mrs. Goodenough again appears twice in Casterbridge, where she both reveals Henchard's "crime" and participates in the skimmity-ride. Each time you see her, the furmity woman's appearance and fortunes seem to have deteriorated further. She goes from mistress of the furmity tent to tender of an outdoor pot, to town vagrant. Although her fall is in direct contrast to Henchard's rise, in the end, she helps to bring him down to her level. Mrs. Goodenough seems to fill a role as Henchard's conscience and an instrument of his self-destruction. Perhaps that is the reason for her name. She reveals to Henchard that he is not always good enough. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: ABEL WHITTLE Abel Whittle makes two brief, but significant appearances. First, he is the subject of Henchard's verbal abuse and humiliation when he continually fails to arrive at work on time. Henchard's almost cruel treatment of Whittle seems to mark a turning point in Henchard's business fortunes. The second time, Whittle acts as Henchard's companion in his final days and announces the former mayor's death. Whittle is a simple man but a faithful one. He stays with Henchard at the end because of the latter's kindnesses toward Whittle's mother. His first name is significant also. As Abel, his companionship helps Henchard recognize his own "Cainness." (Remember that Cain, in the Bible, became an outcast after killing his brother Abel. Henchard's association with Abel emphasizes Henchard's alienation from the rest of Casterbridge society.) Abel's surname, Whittle, seems to refer to the whittling down of Henchard's fortunes. In the end, only Abel Whittle, the lowliest of the people of Casterbridge, is left to remember and mourn the man who was once the most powerful person in the town. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: THE TOWN CHORUS Several minor characters appear in The Mayor of Casterbridge, filling you in on past events and giving the common people's impression of their leaders. These people--such as Mother Cuxsom, Nance Mockridge, Christopher Coney, and Solomon Longways stand outside the windows of the hotel, drink in the Three Mariners Inn, or gather in the side streets of the town. They serve as a kind of Greek chorus in the novel. [In Greek dramas a group of actors appeared on stage to comment on the action and fill in plot details.] The town chorus here maintains the traditions and superstitions of Wessex life. Significantly, they are the only true Wessex citizens in the novel. All of the other characters are outsiders who have immigrated into the region. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: SETTING Most of the action of The Mayor of Casterbridge takes place inside Casterbridge, the largest town in Hardy's Wessex. Hardy focuses carefully on the architecture and the historic nature of the town. As is typical in a Hardy novel, the landscape almost takes on a life of its own. Casterbridge itself seems to be a character in the novel. It has moods and emotions and a magnetic appeal that affects the other characters. Notice, for example, Hardy's first description of the town as Susan and Elizabeth-Jane enter in Chapter IV: The lamplights now glimmered through the engirdling trees, conveying a sense of great snugness and comfort inside, and rendering at the same time the unlighted country without country without strangely solitary and vacant in aspect, considering its nearness to life. Casterbridge is part Roman, part Wessex, and part Dorchester. It is a place of ancient artifacts, rustic customs (including skimmity-rides), and early nineteenth-century architecture and life-styles. Casterbridge is a traditional place preparing uncomfortably for industrialization and modernization. Hardy, who was an architect, provides a very detailed look at the bridges, roads, buildings, inns, marketplace, and surrounding areas of the town. As you read The Mayor of Casterbridge, pay careful attention to the way Hardy describes the different landmarks. For example, he points out cracking paint or worn paths to symbolize deterioration, and he interplays images of light and darkness to add to the gothic (haunting) character of many of the locations. Each landmark seems to have a symbolic function. Bridges are for contemplation of one's turns of fortune. Inns are for gatherings of social classes. Houses are for looking out onto the town (High-Place Hall), for enclosing one in high status (Henchard's house, later occupied by Farfrae and Lucetta), or for locking one away from the world (Jopp's cottage). In only the first two and last two chapters of the novel does the action occur outside Casterbridge. These chapters concern the auction that begins Henchard's troubles and the death that ends them. In the first two and last two chapters, Henchard is a restless wanderer. In these prologue and epilogue sections of the book, Hardy shows the bleakness of the Wessex landscape and its magnetic power as well. Once people enter Wessex, they are seldom able to leave or stay away for good. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: THEMES Hardy develops several themes in The Mayor of Casterbridge. Some are related to the story of Michael Henchard himself. Others are related to Hardy's sense of history or of literary tradition. 1. THE SIN OF HUBRIS Like many of the great tragic heroes in literature, Michael Henchard suffers from excessive pride. The Greeks called this sin hubris. Hubris involves a combination of excessive pride, ambition, and self-confidence. In a sense, a tragic hero creates his own sense of morality that may run counter to the basic moral rules of the society. The punishment for hubris is often a slow and painful death, in which the hero must first be stripped of personal possessions and public favor. Hardy illustrates Henchard's excessive pride throughout the novel, from his blaming liquor for his having sold his wife, to his concealing the real reason behind his oath of abstinence, to his refusing to take the loss in the sale of the bad wheat, to his "buying back" Susan with five guineas, to his lies to Elizabeth-Jane and Newson. Ironically, even the will he leaves shows his pride. He asks to be forgotten completely rather than be remembered as a man who had flaws. Because of his hubris, Henchard loses his wealth, his social position, and his chances at being loved. He leaves Casterbridge dressed as a hay-trusser, just as he was when he first entered the town. 2. THE WORKING OF FATE Hardy came from a religious background, and his architectural career was spent in restoring churches. He admired the security of Christian faith. Yet he was also drawn to the writings of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer about evolution and religious skepticism. He eventually began to doubt his own faith. Without a God controlling the universe, he felt, people had no spiritual force to rely on for comfort or to "blame" for their problems. Hardy grew to believe that what happened to people was determined by fate; people could not really overcome fate. Thus, what seem to be coincidences that occur in one's life (and numerous coincidences plague Michael Henchard in The Mayor of Casterbridge) are actually events controlled by an unknown, and often uncaring, outside force. In his poem "Hap," Hardy refers to such forces as "purblind doomsters" who just as easily strew "blisses about my pilgrimage as pain." This dominance of fate creates a sense of emptiness or loneliness in Hardy's Wessex. Surviving in Wessex involves learning to accept one's fate and living within it, something Henchard never learns how to do. Fate plays a major role in The Mayor of Casterbridge. Henchard thinks he is in control of his life, but he is unable to avoid matters that lead to turning points in his life--a furmity woman who laces her concoction with rum, a long-lost wife who wanders back into his life, a poorly sealed letter that reveals his true daughter's death, the arrest of the furmity woman in Casterbridge, the poorly closed packet of letters, the appearances of Newson. Henchard's indomitable belief that he can somehow overcome his fate makes him stand out as a special person. He has a nobility that cannot be totally destroyed. But his ultimate failure may be a sign of Hardy's own sense of depression over the loss of religious faith. 3. PESSIMISM Closely related to the dominance of a malevolent fate in the novel is the feeling of pessimism that is evident throughout. Hardy conveys this sense of pessimism in two ways--through images and through characterization. Look for repeated images of rain and darkness in the book. They nearly always accompany downturns in Henchard's fortunes. Also notice how Henchard's appearance and feelings of self-worth deteriorate as he is punished for his hubris. Increasingly, he begins to doubt his own strength as he regards the world with greater pessimism. As readers, we also grow increasingly pessimistic about the ability of a person--even a strong man such as Henchard--to succeed in this world. Survival is the best a person can hope for. And survival doesn't mean real joy or happiness, as Hardy notes in the final two pages of the book; it means finding a "latitude of calm weather." 4. TRADITION VS. MODERNIZATION In Hardy's lifetime, England was rapidly becoming industrialized. Hardy felt that something important was being lost through modernization. That's why he set most of his novels in preindustrial times and in an agricultural region. In The Mayor of Casterbridge, Henchard represents the traditional ways of working and doing business. He makes deals with handshakes and bases business deals on hunches or prophesies. Farfrae, on the other hand, represents modern methods. He introduces technology to the town and keeps careful business records. Much of the novel is built around the contrasting attitudes and actions of Henchard and Farfrae. Through his focus on the two men, Hardy makes the major social statement of his book. Farfrae, the man of technology and modern business methods, displaces Henchard, the man of tradition and superstition. Farfrae's name tells you a lot about him. He is a free man from far away, bringing distant and free ideas into a tradition-locked area of England. In much the same way, the Industrial Age is rapidly taking over in Wessex and in all England, replacing the traditional agricultural society of the past centuries. 5. PARALLELS TO THE STORY OF SAUL AND DAVID The interaction between Henchard and Farfrae strongly echoes the biblical story of Saul and David. Saul is the outsider who becomes king of Israel and whose major characteristics are pride and jealousy. Music soothes him over his moments of bad temper. He is a man of brawn who does not always think clearly before he acts. David, the musician, begins as Saul's comforter and eventually replaces him as king. He is a man of creativity and reason. Notice how these characteristics compare to those of Henchard and Farfrae. For example, look at the role that music plays in the novel. Farfrae is a brilliant singer, and Henchard is drawn to music. Also, note Henchard's bullying attitudes (especially toward Farfrae) and contrast them with Farfrae's more sensitive approach. The story of Saul and David also symbolizes the replacement of the old order by the new. By utilizing biblical images, Hardy once again shows the conflict between tradition and modernization. 6. ILLUSION VS. REALITY Nearly all of the main characters in The Mayor of Casterbridge put on a front. As readers, we know or suspect their true identities, and we wait for the truth to surface. Hardy presents many hints that foreshadow the reality behind the illusions. As you read, you might want to see how good a detective you are. Jot down any hints of illusions that you see and your suspicions about the truth. Then see how many of your suspicions are confirmed. Hardy also interplays illusion and reality in his description of the skimmity-ride. Lucetta narrates the scene, and the events seem to take place more in her head than on the street below her window. Reread that scene carefully. Can you explain why the paraders just seem to disappear into thin air? ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: STYLE The style of The Mayor of Casterbridge is clear and descriptive. The sentences are generally carefully developed. At times Hardy's language seems almost poetic (and, indeed, Hardy thought of himself primarily as a poet). Hardy, the poet, is clearly at work in his first extended description of Elizabeth-Jane in Chapter IV: The sun shone in at the door upon the young woman's head and hair, which was worn loose, so that the rays streamed into its depths as into a hazel copse. Her face, though somewhat wan and incomplete, possessed the raw materials of beauty in a promising degree. There was an under-handsomeness in it, struggling to reveal itself through the provisional curves of immaturity, and the casual disfigurements that resulted from the straitened circumstances of their lives. She was handsome in bone, hardly as yet handsome in the flesh. Look at the repetition of 's' sounds that give the description softness and 'h' sounds that give it strength. (This repetition of sounds is known as alliteration.) Hardy wants you to know that Elizabeth-Jane is a mixture of these two qualities. Her later actions will bear out this description. Sometimes Hardy's language may seem old fashioned or wordy, but that is how Victorian authors often wrote. Note, for example, Hardy's explanation of Farfrae's business successes (from Chapter XVII): Whether it were that his Northern energy was an overmastering force among the easy-going Wessex worthies, or whether it was sheer luck, the fact remained that whatever he touched he prospered in. Like Jacob in Padan-Aram, he would no sooner humbly limit himself to the ringstraked-and-spotted exceptions of trade than the ringstraked-and-spotted would multiply and prevail. This passage may seem wordy or archaic to you, but notice Hardy's craftsmanship in using repetition, imagery, and allusion. Hardy relies heavily on images and symbolism in his writing. Many times in The Mayor of Casterbridge he uses rain to add a pessimistic feeling to Henchard's actions. He also creates an ominous feeling by presenting some of the pivotal events in Henchard's downfall in nighttime shadows or in darkened rooms. In addition, Hardy uses animal images in his descriptions of Henchard and Farfrae. Hardy shows Henchard changing from "raging bull" to "fangless" lion and caged bird. Through extended metaphor, Hardy shows Farfrae acting as a powerful male animal laying claim to and taking over the territory of the former dominant male. One interesting aspect of Hardy's style is his use of conversation and dialect. You can learn a great deal about characters, including their social status, from the way they speak. For example, Henchard's conversation generally consists of short sentences strung tightly together. He talks as quickly and as impulsively as he acts. Farfrae speaks precisely, illustrating his correctness. Farfrae's Scottish dialect also illustrates his foreignness. He is the new man on the Wessex scene. (Note the conversations between Henchard and Farfrae in Chapters VII and XII.) Elizabeth-Jane's speech pattern becomes increasingly refined as her character develops. The members of the town chorus show how unrefined they are by the colloquial quality of their rural dialect. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: POINT OF VIEW The Mayor of Casterbridge is written from the point of view of a third-person omniscient narrator. As an outside, all-knowing observer, the narrator can jump through time as he chronicles Henchard's rise and fall, as well as reveal the private thoughts of each character. He can also anticipate or review actions or speeches. He can even make value judgments, which he often does. Note, for example, the following passage from Chapter IV, in which the narrator comments on Susan Henchard's actions and motives, briefly mentions the thoughts of another character, and makes some value judgments of his own. But Susan Henchard's fear of losing her dearly loved daughter's heart by a revelation had little to do with any sense of wrong-doing on her own part. Her simplicity--the original ground of Henchard's contempt for her--had allowed her to live on in the conviction that Newson had acquired a morally real and justifiable right to her by his purchase--though the exact bearings and legal limits of that right were vague. It may seem strange to sophisticated minds that a young matron could believe in the seriousness of such a transfer; and were there not numerous other instances of that same belief the thing might scarcely be credited. The narrator is not the only observer who comments on the action of the novel. Hardy often places two characters on the scene at one time, with a third character (usually Elizabeth-Jane) observing from a place "off-stage." Think of Henchard and Farfrae talking in the inn while Susan overhears them (Chapters VII and VIII), or of Henchard's contemplating pushing Farfrae from the hay-loft while Elizabeth-Jane silently watches the scene (Chapter XXXIII). Do you think this technique gives you a closer "insider's" view of the action, or does it seem distracting to you? Hardy controls your observation of the action by linking you with the outside observer. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: FORM AND STRUCTURE The story line of The Mayor of Casterbridge consists of plot twists, coincidences, echoes, and a series of minor and major climaxes. Throughout, Hardy deals with time in interesting or unusual ways. He can take several chapters to cover the events of a single day or whisk through six months in a single paragraph. He even leaps completely over a period of nearly 20 years and lets you in on the events of those years little by little as the major characters reflect on the past. Because The Mayor of Casterbridge was originally serialized in 20 magazine issues, the narrative is episodic. You might want to think of the book as a script for a television series. (In Hardy's time, books and magazines provided entertainment similar to television in our time.) Hardy puts just enough suspense at the end of one episode to make you want to read the next episode. That's just what a television writer does to make sure you'll be there for the next show. Look for the elements that connect one episode to another or lay the groundwork for future events. The Mayor of Casterbridge may be divided into five sections: 1. Chapters I and II--the auction and oath 2. Chapters III-XIX--from Susan's return until her death 3. Chapters XX-XXX--from Lucetta's entrance until her marriage to Farfrae 4. Chapters XXXI-XL--from Henchard's bankruptcy until Lucetta's death 5. Chapters XLI-XLV--from Newson's appearance until Henchard's death Each section develops an important link to Henchard's downfall. Each part opens with Henchard asserting the strength of his character and ends with Henchard's strength being undercut. At the end of section 1, Henchard has lost all contact with his family. At the end of section 2, he learns the truth about Elizabeth-Jane. At the end of section 3, he has admitted his guilt and lost public favor. At the end of section 4, he grieves over Lucetta's death and learns of Newson's arrival. At the end of section 5, he has died unremembered. You might think of the plot in terms of five descending lines, marking the downward movements in Henchard's fortunes. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: THE STORY The chapter titles you will see in this section are not Thomas Hardy's. They have been inserted to summarize a major focus of each chapter and to help you follow the unwinding of the complex plot of The Mayor of Casterbridge. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER I: THE AUCTION The first chapter of The Mayor of Casterbridge is one of the most surprising opening chapters in literature. A man, feeling encumbered by his wife, auctions her off to a total stranger and begins a new and (for a time) highly successful life. The opening will certainly command your attention. The carefully paced and dramatic events of Chapter I give you a strong hint that you are going to be following the life of an energetic and impetuous man, and also a man of questionable moral character. Two questions you will probably ask yourself as the chapter ends are: Will Henchard escape punishment for his moral "crime"? and How will he be punished in the end? By provoking these questions in your mind, Hardy has aroused your interest. Chapter I is noteworthy not only for its plot but also for its craftsmanship. Every word and every image are carefully chosen. Pay close attention to the descriptions of the characters and to the imagery that Hardy uses. Notice the echoes of the horse auction in the auction of Susan Henchard. Think about the bird flying through the furmity tent. Note Henchard's temper and Susan's passive acceptance of her sale. As the book opens, three people--a husband, a wife, and an infant daughter--are entering the large Wessex village of Weydon-Priors. The man is an unemployed hay-trusser, a skilled farm worker. He and his wife are walking together physically, but they are mentally far apart. Hardy emphasizes this mental separation by describing the "perfect silence" between the husband and wife, and the fact that the wife "enjoyed no society whatever" from having her husband alongside her. You also learn that this distance between the couple is not a new thing. No recent incident has separated them. Instead, their alienation from each other is clearly a natural part of their relationship. As Hardy notes, they have a "stale familiarity" about them. Recognizing the type of relationship that Michael and Susan Henchard have with each other will help you understand why he auctions her later in this chapter, why she agrees to leave with the sailor after the auction, and what kind of marriage they will have when she returns to him later in the novel. Take note of Hardy's first descriptions of the Henchards. He refers to them as "the man," "the woman," "the wife," and "the couple." They have no names yet. It is as if Hardy wants you to feel a sense of distance from them. Yet, from the first, the man is clearly the more interesting character. His features are sharply etched, and his walk is distinctive. The woman, on the other hand, has no real distinguishing features. She is somewhat pretty, if the sunlight strikes her in a certain way. Hardy describes her face as having a "mobility" about it. As you will see, mobility is an apt word to describe Susan. She allows herself to be moved from place to place and from man to man. Michael Henchard is an active person, characterized by his unflagging energy. Susan Henchard is a passive individual, almost a pawn. The landscape also reflects a sense of alienation. The vegetation has turned from green to blackened-green, and the leaves are "doomed," on their way to eventual winter death. There is dust everywhere, and only one weak bird is singing a "trite" song. Yet the landscape is also ageless. Readers, like the Henchards, have entered Wessex, a region bounded by tradition and superstition and still untouched by technology and other aspects of the modern world. NOTE: NATURE IN THE NOVEL Even though most of the action in The Mayor of Casterbridge occurs in town settings, the countryside plays an important role in the novel, and Hardy uses natural images for symbolic effect. Weydon-Priors and Casterbridge are surrounded (almost imprisoned, it seems) by the countryside. Note, for example, Hardy's description in Chapter IV of the wall of trees that serves as the boundary of Casterbridge. These natural settings aren't beautiful or gentle; they are cold and threatening. Also note Hardy's symbolic use of horses in this chapter (Susan is auctioned like a horse) and his having a bird sail freely through the furmity tent while Susan is being "bound over" to another man. The bird is an important symbol. Henchard thinks that selling his wife will make him as free as the bird. (At the end of the book, he will see himself as a caged bird, rather than as a free one.) The travelers meet a turnip-hoer as they enter the village. He tells them that they will find no work or housing in Weydon-Priors. There is, however, a fair going on. The turnip-hoer says that the real business of the fair day, the auctioning of animals, has already been completed. Only a few inferior animals remain for sale. However, the peasant's words will soon ring false. One more major business transaction will soon take place. NOTE: FAIR DAYS Dorset, in which Hardy grew up and upon which he modeled Wessex, was a traditional farming area. People there lived by an agricultural calendar. Fairs and festivals marked the beginning or end of seasons, and, as such, occurred at set times. That the novel opens on a fair day, then, has a special significance. The date of the auction will be clearly set on the Wessex calendar. The travelers decide to look for refreshment. The man wants to enter a tent in which beer and hard cider is being sold, but his wife directs them instead into the furmity tent, where the puddings are sold. The wife obviously knows that her husband has trouble holding his liquor. Ironically, in trying to avoid a problem, the woman precipitates a series of events that will change all their lives. As always in a Hardy novel, fate will soon take charge. The woman who runs the furmity tent illegally spikes the pudding with rum. Michael Henchard drinks four basins (bowls) and becomes increasingly drunk and quarrelsome. He begins to reflect on the major problem in his life--the family that he feels is restraining him from success. At that moment, an auctioneer outside the furmity tent is selling the last of the horses. His calls unconsciously trigger a desire in Henchard to sell his family to the highest bidder. Quickly and loudly, he begins his auction. For the first time, you see the impulsiveness that will always characterize Michael Henchard. The crowd in the furmity tent thinks Henchard is joking at first, but he becomes increasingly serious, as does his wife. Susan Henchard is obviously used to her husband's drunken outbursts. She tries to calm him at first. Then she, too, becomes annoyed as he continues the auction. Finally, she declares that she would welcome being sold. "Her present owner is not at all to her liking," she says. This statement reveals a lot about Susan. She obviously sees herself as a possession to be owned by a man. A sailor bids five guineas (about $25 in Hardy's time) for Susan, and the deal is soon completed. Susan and the child leave with the sailor. During the auction, the action has been fast-paced. Hardy continues to build the mood with lean sentences and very short paragraphs. Following the auction, however, Hardy slows the narrative pace with two long paragraphs--one dealing with the peacefulness of nature outside the furmity tent, and the other with Michael Henchard's falling asleep inside the tent. The contrasting calmness of these two paragraphs against what follows helps make the infamous auction scene even more disturbing to you. The auction is the key event of The Mayor of Casterbridge. It underlies the tragic events that follow. Yet it has all happened so quickly, and so early, in the novel. You can see that a Hardy novel doesn't build slowly toward a climax. It pounds away with one dramatic event after another. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER II: THE OATH The next morning, Michael Henchard awakens in the furmity tent, only vaguely remembering what happened there the previous evening. He spots Susan's wedding ring on the floor, then discovers the sailor's money in his pocket. As his memory returns, he begins talking aloud to himself. Henchard is obviously upset. He feels a series of emotions but, strangely, not shame. Hardy describes Henchard as having a "gloomy curiosity" and a sense of revitalization as he faces the new day. He is "surprised and nettled" that Susan has left with the sailor, and he worries that he might have identified himself while drunk the night before, but is soon relieved to learn that no one knows him. Initial annoyance with Susan quickly builds to anger. How could she have taken him so literally? Then he remembers her passivity. Therefore, he must be responsible for what happened. NOTE: ONE MODEL FOR HENCHARD Thomas Hardy's maternal grandfather, George Hand, was a laborer who drank heavily and eventually died of consumption (tuberculosis). Hardy's mother told him many stories about his grandfather's drunkenness, and Hardy wove her descriptions into his characterizations of the two heavy and tragic drinkers in his novels--Henchard and Jude Fawley of Jude the Obscure. Henchard takes two steps to correct the situation, both ineffectual. He goes unobserved to the village church and takes a solemn oath not to drink again for 21 years (he is only 21 now). Then he begins looking for Susan, although he knows neither the sailor's name nor his hometown. However, Henchard's pride and shame keep him from revealing the true story behind his family's disappearance. Had he done so, people might have been more willing to help him. In any case, after several months he gives up the search and moves on to Casterbridge. The second chapter contrasts sharply with the first. It is much shorter and less dramatic. Yet it reveals even more about Henchard's character: He acts quickly and often makes errors. He sometimes regrets his mistakes, but his way of handling them is not to undo what he has done but to take a new course of action. He relies more on instinct than on thought. His instincts have led him to rid himself of his family and to find his way to Casterbridge. Both of these deeds will play important roles in his subsequent success and his eventual downfall. NOTE: THE PROLOGUE SECTION The first two chapters are separate from the rest of the novel in terms of time, place, style, and development. They serve as a prologue section. The prologue introduces several of the main characters and presents core events that will underlie much of the later action, As you read the first two chapters, think about why Hardy sets them off from the rest of the novel. Why doesn't he begin the book in Casterbridge in the 1840s and flash back to the earlier events in Weydon-Priors? There are several possible reasons. Which of the following explanations seems most logical to you? One is that Hardy wants the auction in Chapter I to stand out from the rest of the book. It's the key event in both Michael Henchard's rise and fall. Secondly, Hardy wants to shock you and capture your interest immediately. A third reason is that Hardy wants to draw you into the world of Wessex and separate you from your own time and place. What a strange place this is, you may think, in which a man can sell his family and no one seems to be very upset about it! A final reason is that Hardy's focus is on the destructive nature of Henchard's character and his powerlessness to overcome his fate. He does not want you to see Henchard first as a man of power and influence. You know that Henchard is doomed long before he recognizes this fact. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER III: SUSAN'S SEARCH FOR HENCHARD Chapter III opens the second section of The Mayor of Casterbridge. You might call this chapter "Echoes, Contrasts, and Coincidences." In the first paragraph, Hardy includes several echoes of Chapter I. The scene is again the dusty road leading to Weydon-Priors. The leaves are turning brown once more. And strangers are once again entering the village. The strangers are Susan Henchard and her daughter Elizabeth-Jane, a girl of about 18. The echoes continue. The two women arrive in the village on Fair Day. In fact, they have come to the village exactly 18 years after the auction. They even head toward the place where furmity is being sold. While he is echoing the past, Hardy also presents numerous contrasts. Eighteen years have made quite a difference. The village and the fair are considerably run down now. The furmity woman no longer has a tent. She serves her brew, now "thin slop" instead of "rich concoction," from a pot over an open fire outdoors. Yet she still spikes it illegally with rum. The most intriguing contrast lies in Susan Henchard's reason for returning to Weydon-Priors. She first arrived there with Michael Henchard and left with Richard Newson, the sailor. Now Newson has been lost at sea, and Susan is looking for Michael Henchard. Does she intend to resume her marriage with Henchard? Elizabeth-Jane asks her mother why they have come to this place and learns that her mother first met "father"--Newson--here. Susan tells her they have returned to the village to try to locate their kin, Michael Henchard, who is related to them "by marriage." As Susan approaches the furmity woman, her daughter wonders why she wants to talk to someone as unrespectable as the old hag. Elizabeth-Jane's comments illustrate both her primness and her lack of memory about the past. Susan's conversation with Mrs. Goodenough, the furmity woman, brings out some amazing coincidences. Mrs. Goodenough still remembers the infamous auction. She even recalls an old message from Michael Henchard to his former wife. He told Mrs. Goodenough 17 years ago that if she should ever see Susan again, to tell her that he had moved to Casterbridge. Do all of these coincidences seem a little too contrived? They are typical in a Hardy novel, and they sometimes annoy readers. Yet these coincidences keep the story moving along smoothly. NOTE: THE IMPORTANCE OF COINCIDENCES AND FORESHADOWING Since many of Hardy's novels were first serialized in magazines, he needed various devices to tie the episodes together and keep his readers in suspense. The use of coincidences was one of these devices. Hardy's use of coincidence also adds to the fatalistic nature of the plot. The coincidences seem to show that Henchard can't escape his fate. In Chapter III, Hardy also illustrates his technique of foreshadowing future events. Look carefully at his description of Elizabeth-Jane at the beginning of this chapter, and at Susan's statement to her daughter about their relationship to Michael Henchard. Harry describes the girl as being "about eighteen," as being "Susan Henchard's grown-up daughter," and as never having been known by Henchard. Hardy is planting clues in your mind about the characters that won't be explained until later. He is also provoking you into reading further. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER IV: ENTERING CASTERBRIDGE In Chapter IV, Hardy begins to fill you in on what has happened to Susan Henchard since the auction. Susan has kept her past a secret from Elizabeth-Jane, fearing that her daughter might be upset by the truth behind Susan's relationship with the sailor, Newson. Susan had moved with the sailor to Canada, then back to England. More and more, Susan doubted the morality of her life with Newson. He understood and arranged, conveniently, to become lost at sea. Free of one problem, Susan still has another--how to help Elizabeth-Jane make her way in the world. Susan decides that finding Henchard might help resolve all her problems. She will return to her proper husband. Henchard might have become successful enough to help Elizabeth-Jane. In addition, he might help Susan decide how to tell the girl about the past. The two women enter Casterbridge on a Friday evening. Elizabeth-Jane is struck by how old-fashioned the town appears. NOTE: THE PRIMITIVE NATURE OF CASTERBRIDGE In his descriptions of Casterbridge, Hardy emphasizes the old-fashioned, almost primitive, nature of the town. Casterbridge is imprisoned by trees and often cloaked in darkness. It is similar to the dark, foreboding castles in many horror or suspense stories. Susan and Elizabeth-Jane overhear a conversation between two men in which the name "Henchard" is mentioned. Elizabeth-Jane wants to run after the men, but Susan stops her because she wants to make "private inquiries." She implies that Henchard might be a criminal or a debtor, but she probably fears that he has either remarried or has risen to heights too high for his modest former family. The two also meet a woman who complains about how bad the bread in Casterbridge has become. She attributes the problem to spoiled wheat sold by the cornfactor. (In England, wheat is called "corn," and what we know as "corn" is called "maize.") In the next chapter, you will learn that the cornfactor is in fact Michael Henchard. The bad wheat he has sold to the town millers marks the first downturn in his career since his move to Casterbridge. Hardy once again presents a coincidence. Susan Henchard re-enters Michael Henchard's life just as his fortune is reversing. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER V: DISCOVERING THE MAYOR In Chapter IV, Hardy introduced the landscape of Casterbridge. In this chapter, he introduces its people. Why do you think he shows you the town in this manner? As the chapter opens, the town band playing outside the King's Arms Hotel attracts Susan and her daughter. The most important town leaders are dining inside the hotel, and many of the minor townspeople are gathered across the street where they can observe the proceedings. Susan asks Elizabeth-Jane to converse with some of the townspeople so as to find out more about Henchard. NOTE: THE TOWN CHORUS In many of his books, Hardy employs a chorus of minor characters to fill in some of the past events not explained in his narration. Greek dramatists often used this technique as did William Shakespeare. The chorus provides you with a good sense of local color and a special perspective on the important people or events in the book. In this chapter, the words and actions of the chorus reveal some very interesting information about Henchard. He is a mysterious character (you know more about him than the townspeople do). Henchard is clearly powerful, but he is also vulnerable if pushed. And the people in Casterbridge know how to push him. Elizabeth-Jane learns that Henchard is the mayor of the town. Susan overhears the same information. Both women are surprised, but they react very differently to the news. Elizabeth-Jane is impressed and interested, while Susan is nervous and overwhelmed. She says, "Now I only want to go--pass away--die." Why do you think Susan reacts this way? Here are three possible reasons. For one thing, Susan is probably concerned that she and Henchard are no longer equals. He may not want to help the two women and thus in some way acknowledge his humble beginnings. For another, Susan has noticed that the Mayor has a hard, unforgiving look. He may think of Susan as a threat to his position and react in hostility toward her and her daughter. A third possibility is that Susan may be a little envious that Henchard has become so prosperous since ridding himself of her. Which reason seems most logical to you? While Susan reflects on the surprising news, Elizabeth-Jane learns more about Henchard by listening to the gossipy townspeople. She hears about Henchard's 21-year oath, and that he has only two more years before he can resume drinking alcohol. Elizabeth-Jane also learns that the Mayor is a widower who "lost" his wife. The gossipers next turn to the subject of the bad wheat that Henchard has sold to the town bakers. Soon, the same complaint begins in the hotel dining room where one of the tradesmen questions Henchard, another guest, about the poor bread. Outside the open windows, the people join in the questioning. Henchard's famous temper is aroused. He blames the weather and the fact that he needs a good manager for his business. Pressed about whether he will replace the bad wheat, Henchard replies, "If anybody will tell me how to make grown wheat into wholesome wheat I'll take it back. But it can't be done." Henchard's words are prophetic. He will spend much of the rest of the novel trying to undo what he has already done. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER VI: A MYSTERIOUS STRANGER ARRIVES Another new character enters Casterbridge in this chapter. As you will see, each new character has a significant effect on the plot and on Michael Henchard's life. This character, Donald Farfrae, enters on a note of mystery and magic. As Henchard tells the tradesmen in the hotel dining room that it is impossible for him to replace the bad wheat, he is overheard by a young stranger standing just outside the dining room windows. The tall young man hastily jots down a note on some paper, asking the waiter standing in the doorway to take the note to the Mayor. He also asks (in a strong brogue) the waiter to suggest a moderately priced hotel, thus revealing his Scottish frugality. The waiter points out the Three Mariners down the street. Elizabeth-Jane has been observing all this, even noticing the Mayor's reaction to the young man's note. Henchard's mood changes to excitement. Elizabeth-Jane turns to her mother and suggests that they also find a room at the Three Mariners. The two women leave just as Henchard emerges from the King's Arms to question the waiter about the sender of the note. They just miss each other. Learning that the stranger has gone to the Three Mariners, Henchard makes his way there as well. NOTE: HARDY'S NARRATIVE STYLE This scene illustrates some interesting aspects of Hardy's narrative style. Notice that he maintains tight control over the action. He moves characters around like actors on a stage. The characters narrowly miss bumping into each other, and the suspense builds. You have probably been wondering when Henchard will meet his former family again, and how they will react to each other. Hardy makes you wait a little longer before you see this confrontation. He will also make you wait to find out more about the mysterious stranger. Hardy next presents a careful description of the architecture of the Three Mariners. Remember that he started out as an architect and has a special feeling for the traditional structures in Casterbridge. In his description, Hardy also points out the deterioration of the hotel's signboard, for want of a skilled painter. He seems to lament the loss of tradition as modernization takes over the town. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER VII: HENCHARD MEETS FARFRAE The focus shifts back to Susan and Elizabeth-Jane. They are inside the Three Mariners, and Susan is concerned that they can't afford to stay there. Elizabeth-Jane decides to work for their room and board. She is instructed to bring the Scotsman his dinner and studies his appearance briefly, but he doesn't even notice her. Then she brings dinner to her mother. Coincidentally, the two women are staying in the room next to the Scotsman's. Together, they overhear a conversation between Henchard and the Scotsman. NOTE: HARDY'S USE OF OUTSIDE OBSERVERS One interesting stylistic device that Hardy uses is to let you view the action through the eyes or ears of characters outside the action. (This technique is discussed earlier in the Point of View section.) The town chorus is one example of outside observers who comment on the action. Here, you see another example. Hardy's technique serves both to distance you from the action and also to let you see how other characters are affected by what is being heard or seen. Thus, you know more about what is happening than does any one character, although your viewpoint may be slightly biased at the same time. The stranger says that his name is Donald Farfrae and that he is on his way to America. He and Henchard discuss the contents of Farfrae's note: Farfrae's claim that he has a technique for curing bad wheat. The young man demonstrates the technique to Henchard, who is impressed, and offers Farfrae a job. Farfrae refuses but says Henchard can have the secret remedy for nothing. Henchard's tone toward Farfrae quickly changes from businesslike to personal. He says the stranger reminds him of his dead brother. He refuses a drink and tells Farfrae about his oath, confiding that a shameful deed is behind the oath. The two men soon part. Henchard's impulsive and trusting nature is clearly shown in this scene. He quickly allows his emotions to control him. Typically, he offers Farfrae a job that had already been promised to someone else. He also shows that he suffers from loneliness and shame. Farfrae, on the other hand, is aloof and quietly reasonable. He weighs his words carefully before he speaks. Fate is also at work. By coming to the Three Mariners, Henchard has started a series of events that will soon be beyond his control. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER VIII: FARFRAE, THE SINGER Hardy shifts your attention back to Susan and Elizabeth-Jane, so you can see the effect the overheard conversation has had on them. Susan's face is "strangely bright" when she learns that Henchard still feels shame about having auctioned his family. Meanwhile, Elizabeth-Jane clears away Farfrae's dishes and becomes an outside observer, watching Farfrae join the other hotel guests in the sitting-room where he sings a song about Scotland. NOTE: THE ROLE OF MUSIC IN THE NOVEL Many of Hardy's early memories were tied to music. Both his father and grandfather were church musicians, and Hardy also played the fiddle at dances in his youth. The family often gathered to play songs and ballads. Music made Hardy think of family and tradition. There are numerous references to music in The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Henchard's saga can indeed be viewed as a kind of ballad in its chronicling the rise and tragic fall of a common man. Hardy also uses music to relate the story of Henchard and Farfrae to that of Saul and David in the Bible. Remember that David's harp playing was the only thing able to soothe Saul's temper. (See the "Themes" section of this guide and later chapter analyses for more about this connection.) Farfrae's lonely song about Scotland draws an emotional response from all the listeners, including Henchard, who hears the song while standing outside the hotel, and Elizabeth-Jane, who is clearly attracted to Farfrae. Hardy concludes the chapter by quickly flashing through the thoughts of Susan, Elizabeth-Jane, and Henchard. Susan is worried that Elizabeth-Jane may have belittled herself in Henchard's eyes by acting as a serving maid. He may not want to help her get ahead now. Elizabeth-Jane thinks about Farfrae. Henchard, moved by the music, reflects on his loneliness. The only person who doesn't seem emotionally affected in any way is Farfrae. Despite the haunting quality of his singing, he seems just as aloof as he did in his conversation with Henchard. Farfrae is clearly different from the others in Casterbridge. Yet he is quickly able to win the others over to him. This special quality will prove important later on in the novel. He is also quite the opposite of Henchard. Farfrae blends with the common people, while Henchard keeps himself apart. Notice how Farfrae sings openly among the townspeople, while Henchard addresses them through a window. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER IX: FARFRAE JOINS WITH HENCHARD The next morning, Henchard again presses Farfrae to stay and work for him. Farfrae tells Henchard he is definitely leaving, but his responses indicate some wavering. Sadly, Elizabeth-Jane watches the two men walk away together. The girl turns toward her mother, who is thinking about Henchard. Susan comments on the consistency of Henchard's character. She says he was always a warm person, but we haven't seen much previous evidence of this trait. Susan is wishfully hoping that she and her daughter might receive a warm reception from Henchard. Seeing some of Henchard's wagons loaded with hay (a sign of prosperity), she resolves to approach her former husband for Elizabeth-Jane's sake. Susan decides to send Elizabeth-Jane to Henchard with a message that a sailor's widow is in town. This will give Henchard time to consider whether he will see Susan. She hopes that Henchard's loneliness and sense of guilt will move him to take them back. Take a close look at Susan's comments here. Think about how they illustrate her self-effacing nature. She will let Henchard decide if, when, and where he wants to meet them. She even instructs Elizabeth-Jane to tell Henchard that her mother knows she has no claim upon the Mayor. But Susan has a very real claim, doesn't she? Hardy describes Susan as a "poor forgiving woman," but she seems almost unconvincingly humble and unconfident. As Elizabeth-Jane walks up High Street, Hardy gives you a tour of Casterbridge through Elizabeth-Jane's eyes. Note that it is market day in Casterbridge, a fact that closely parallels that long-ago fair day in Weydon-Priors when Susan and her baby were auctioned. Hardy emphasizes this connection by describing the rows of horses for sale--just as they were in Weydon-Priors. NOTE: THE CHARACTER OF CASTERBRIDGE In his descriptions of Casterbridge in this chapter and in Chapter IV, Hardy quickly points out the non-urban character of the town. "Casterbridge was the complement of rural life around; not its urban opposite," he writes, adding that the town lived by agriculture. Casterbridge is a working-class town, a place of labor and tradition. Remember that Hardy came from a working-class background and shunned London society, choosing to live in Dorchester instead. The agricultural nature of Casterbridge may explain why a former hay-trusser was able to rise to mayor. It also shows that the fall from mayor back to hay-trusser may not be such a long one, nor so far away. Elizabeth-Jane enters Henchard's store-yard, but he is not there. Instead, to her surprise, she encounters Farfrae. Hardy then breaks away from the narrative to explain why Farfrae is in the yard. This brief flashback serves two functions for Hardy. It allows him to keep you in suspense a little longer about Henchard's reaction to meeting his former family, and it also keeps you wondering how Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae will react to each other. Will they, indeed, be a match? ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER X: ELIZABETH-JANE AND HENCHARD MEET Henchard opens his office door to admit Elizabeth-Jane, but another man jumps in front of her. He announces that he is the new manager, Joshua Jopp, the man who Henchard had at first thought Farfrae was. Jopp has come to claim his new job, but he learns that the position is already filled. Angry and disappointed, he leaves. The scene is abrupt and mysterious. Knowing Hardy's technique of foreshadowing, you are. probably wondering what kind of threat the angry Jopp might pose to Henchard later on. Finally, Elizabeth-Jane says that she wants to speak to Henchard "not on business." She then delivers her mother's message. Henchard is shocked to learn about Susan, but he immediately concentrates on the girl instead. He asks if she is Susan's daughter and what her name is. When she says, "Elizabeth-Jane Newson," Henchard feels certain that the girl doesn't know about the auction nor the identity of her real father. He invites Elizabeth-Jane into his home. Henchard begins a note to Susan. He stops to ask the girl how well off she and her mother are, and he seems genuinely concerned. Noticing Elizabeth-Jane's "respectable" but old-fashioned clothes, he encloses five guineas with the note. The amount is significant. It is the sum that Newson paid for Susan and her daughter. Elizabeth-Jane delivers the note to Susan, describing her meeting with Henchard. The note contains Henchard's request that he and Susan meet secretly at a place called The Ring. Susan matches Henchard's secrecy by not revealing the details of the note to Elizabeth-Jane. Susan quietly pockets the enclosed five guineas, indicating that she is willing to be bought again. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XI: THE REUNION Having symbolically bought Susan back, Henchard determines to make amends for having sold her in the first place. Is Henchard sincerely remorseful, or does he once again show his pride by believing he can erase the past? At the end of this chapter, see if you feel more positive or more negative about Henchard than you did before. The place Henchard has chosen to meet Susan is an old Roman amphitheatre, known as The Ring. Hardy notes it is not a place for happy meetings. Furtive appointments are held in The Ring. Hardy describes it as desolate, decaying, a place of violence, where bloody incidents have occurred. NOTE: ROMANS IN DORSET Hardy was fascinated by the history of Dorset, particularly the Roman occupation in the first through third centuries. Many times in the novel he alludes to the Roman influence still alive in Casterbridge. Hardy himself found some Roman artifacts when workmen were excavating the land for his new house, Max Gate, in Dorchester. Three skeletons of Roman soldiers were also found there. The Roman amphitheatre was known as Maumbury Rings and was located just south of the town of Dorchester. Henchard has chosen The Ring because he feels he can't be observed there. He is concerned with maintaining proper appearances. He and Susan meet in the middle of the arena. What do you think is the significance of this? Does their meeting seem like a gladiatorial encounter? Henchard first admits apologetically that he no longer drinks. Although he feels guilty, he doesn't blame himself; he blames his drinking for his wrongdoing, much as he did when he first took his solemn oath. Henchard asks Susan why she kept silent from him for so long and learns that she considered herself bound to Newson by the auction. She also wanted to conceal her shameful past from Elizabeth-Jane. They agree that it is important to continue to keep the girl, as well as the townspeople, ignorant of their former marriage. Henchard develops a plan in which he will set Susan and Elizabeth-Jane up in a cottage, woo Susan, remarry her, and adopt the girl. It is all very businesslike--there is no mention of love. Susan, ever adaptable, agrees to the plan for her daughter's sake. As they part, Henchard asks Susan if she forgives him. She mumbles an indistinct reply, and Henchard comments, "Never mind--all in good time. Judge me by my future works." Once again, Henchard rushes headlong into the future, trying to atone for past wrongs with present actions. He seems repentant, but do you think he has really changed, or has he just found a convenient way to relieve his guilt feelings? ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XII: HENCHARD CONFIDES IN FARFRAE Hardy is now ready to sow the seeds for the most significant conflict in the novel--that between Henchard and Farfrae and the philosophies each embodies. Hardy begins this conflict rather innocently with a conversation between the two men. Look carefully at this conversation. As you read, make a simple chart on which to note contrasting characteristics of the two men. Add to your chart as you read. This can be an excellent source for preparing to write papers or to take tests on The Mayor of Casterbridge. The action begins when Henchard returns home from his meeting with Susan and notices that Farfrae is still "overhauling" the books. He admires Farfrae's meticulousness but pities him at the same time for his concentration on petty details. He considers himself above details. Henchard persuades Farfrae to stop working, inviting him to dinner. After dinner, Henchard confides the two most important secrets in his life to Farfrae and asks the young man's advice. He tells Farfrae about the auction and Susan's recent return. When Farfrae suggests that Henchard make amends by again living with his former wife, Henchard reveals his second secret--he has also had an affair with a woman on the island of Jersey, a relationship that ruined her reputation. He planned to marry her to make things right, but Susan's reappearance will prevent him from doing so. Henchard is characteristically expansive and emotional in recounting his troubles, while Farfrae is characteristically unemotional and logical in his advice. He suggests that Henchard write the Jersey woman, explaining the facts and wishing her well. Henchard feels he must enclose some money in the letter. Henchard mentions one more problem: should he tell his daughter the truth? Farfrae says yes, but Henchard vehemently disagrees, ending their discussion. Interestingly, Hardy describes the conversation as an "interview." Even very personal exchanges become businesslike when Henchard and Farfrae are involved. Are you surprised that Henchard shares his deeply hidden secrets with an almost total stranger? Or is this kind of impulsive act consistent with his character? Henchard has tightly embraced Farfrae, though neither man really understands the other. The discussion between the two men raises some questions in your mind. Will Henchard regret sharing his secrets? Will Farfrae maintain the secrecy? Who is the Jersey woman and what other complications will she bring to the plot? ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XIII: COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE Once he has installed Susan and Elizabeth-Jane in their cottage, Henchard begins courting Susan. Henchard enjoys tricking Elizabeth-Jane, but Susan is unhappy with this deception. Henchard soon suggests that they set a wedding date. Susan feels a little overwhelmed by Henchard's affluence and the trouble he has gone to, but Henchard is determined to make amends for the past. Rumors soon begin flying around Casterbridge about the couple--the energetic and class-conscious mayor and the pale, humble woman whom the boys in the town dub "The Ghost." Henchard is undeterred by the gossip. He is driven not by love but by the desire to make amends to Susan, to provide a home for his daughter, and to punish himself for his past misdeeds. NOTE: HENCHARD'S SELF-PUNISHMENT URGE Throughout the novel, Henchard seems to have a subconscious need to punish himself. His sense of guilt drives him to actions that may threaten him later. For example, had he never left a message for Susan with the furmity woman, Susan might never have found him, and his fortunes might have been very different. He unconsciously wanted Susan to find him, forcing him to make amends. Do you think he also wants the townspeople to look down on him for marrying beneath his social class? Status is important to Henchard, and purposefully choosing to lose status by marrying Susan is certainly an example of Henchard's self-punishment. Or do you think Henchard feels it more important to make amends to Susan? As you continue reading, consider Henchard's motives for committing other acts that lead to his downfall. While the couple is being married inside the church, the town chorus gathers outside--as before--to provide a special perspective. Once again, Hardy uses outside observers to study a key event. Some in the crowd wonder why Henchard waited so long to get so little in a wife. Others, knowing Henchard's temper, see a "bluebeardy look" about him and predict that the marriage may prove disastrous in the long run. Still others feel Henchard is a good catch for any woman, particularly one like Susan. These comments create an unsettling atmosphere around an event that is supposed to bring peace into the lives of the Henchard family. Hardy seems to foreshadow more trouble. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XIV: MAKING PLANS FOR ELIZABETH-JANE Susan and Elizabeth-Jane now live in Henchard's house. Henchard treats his old/new wife with great kindness but without affection. "He was as kind to her as a man, mayor, and churchwarden could possibly be," Hardy writes. But Henchard doesn't treat her as most husbands or lovers might. While Susan finds kindness and comfort in her new home, Elizabeth-Jane sees a whole new world opening up for her. In the second paragraph, Hardy describes the changes in Elizabeth-Jane. He shows how she has improved materially, physically, and emotionally. The order of the description seems very Henchard-like: money comes first, then leads to other things. Hardy is quick to point out, however, that money has not really changed the girl's personality. She believes her good fortune might quickly disappear if she tempts Providence by flaunting her new-found affluence. In this respect, she contrasts sharply with Henchard. NOTE: THE NOVEL AS FABLE Hardy sometimes weaves the qualities of a fable into The Mayor of Casterbridge. He makes the book seem a symbolic tale with a moral message. Notice how the first sentence of the novel, beginning "One evening of late summer...", resembles the standard story opening "Once upon a time..." In this chapter, Hardy prepares you for a moral message that will build as the book progresses. He appears to be saying that the way to endure in this world is to be moderate in your actions and desires. If you reach for too much too quickly, you may soon come toppling down. Consider the fable of the tortoise and the hare. Its moral is, "Slow and steady wins the race." Henchard is a little like the hare, rushing ahead, ridiculing his opponents and refusing to recognize any limitations. Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae are more like the tortoise. They move ahead slowly but surely to success, while Henchard, like the hare, is doomed to failure in the long run. Henchard studies his daughter carefully and begins to doubt her identity. He asks Susan if the girl's hair wasn't darker as a child. Susan is startled by the question and uneasily evades it. Once again, Hardy hints that things may not be as they seem. Henchard's doubts drive him to ask Elizabeth-Jane to take his name instead of Newson's. Henchard wants to make certain she is legally, if not emotionally, his daughter. Susan objects to this request at first, but finally agrees to ask the girl. Privately, however, she discourages her daughter from making the change. The issue is dropped but you may begin to wonder at this point if Elizabeth-Jane really is Henchard's child. One day, Elizabeth-Jane receives a note asking her to come to a granary. She thinks she is being summoned to help with Henchard's business. However, she sees only Farfrae at the granary. They meet and talk, discovering that each has been sent a similar mysterious note. Together they wait for whomever sent the note to appear and solve the mystery. But no one arrives. The two talk for a few minutes, and then part. An unseen matchmaker seems to be at work again. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XV: HENCHARD AND FARFRAE ARGUE Chapter XV deals with two separate themes. The first is Elizabeth-Jane's physical attractiveness and rising popularity. Although she is rapidly becoming the town beauty she remains as modest as ever. The second theme concerns a slowly building rift between Henchard and Farfrae. Farfrae's ability to ingratiate himself with the common people of Casterbridge--as he demonstrated earlier at the Three Mariners--increases the Scotsman's popularity while at the same time arousing Henchard's jealousy. What thread do both themes share? Some interesting elements of Hardy's style are evident at the beginning of Chapter XV. As Chapter XIV ended, your attention was drawn to Elizabeth-Jane as she left Farfrae. There was also a hint of romance. Hardy opens Chapter XV with a description of Elizabeth-Jane's developing beauty and Farfrae's rising romantic interest in her. Notice the smooth transition from the action at the end of the previous chapter. Hardy continues building transitions. In order to shift your attention from Elizabeth-Jane to Henchard and Farfrae in this chapter, he has the girl view the two men through her window. Hardy resembles a movie director, panning the cameras across the set. Once he has your attention fixed on the next important scene--the faltering relationship between Henchard and Farfrae--he moves the camera in for a close-up. What other examples of smooth transitions and "camera panning" have you found? An unlikely third character plays an important role in the rift between Henchard and Farfrae. He is a village simpleton named Abel Whittle, who finds it very difficult to get to work on time. Henchard gives him an ultimatum and issues a stern threat against him if he is late once more. When Abel is missing the next morning, Henchard goes to his house and rouses him from bed. He forces the man to come to work without his breeches on. When Abel tells Farfrae that he will kill himself out of embarrassment, Farfrae sends him home for his pants. Henchard and Farfrae have a public confrontation over the matter, and Henchard is hurt by what he regards as Farfrae's disloyalty to him. Later, Farfrae discovers that Henchard is not completely cold-hearted. He had supplied Abel's poor mother with coal and snuff without charge during the previous winter. Henchard broods over several other incidents involving Farfrae, who he feels has displaced him in the eyes of the common townspeople. In the end, however, his positive feelings for Farfrae win out over his jealousy. As the chapter ends, the two men are friends again, though Henchard regrets having confided his most important secrets to Farfrae. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XVI: HENCHARD AND FARFRAE SPLIT UP Henchard becomes increasingly polite and reserved in his manner toward Farfrae. They are still business partners but no longer friends. Finally, their partnership ends over what others would consider a trivial incident. Both men begin planning holiday celebrations, with Henchard believing that as Mayor, he should be able to outdo Farfrae. Henchard advertises an elaborate fair, complete with contests and athletic events, while Farfrae plans a modest celebration inside a tent. Henchard is certain he will win out over his nemesis at last. The holiday arrives with heavy rains. Henchard's games are rained out and his booth collapses. Even after the rains stop, no one comes to Henchard's celebration. Instead, they go to Farfrae's tent, which has been erected so as to protect the people from wind and rain. Even Susan and Elizabeth-Jane are there. NOTE: SYMBOLIC RAIN The holiday rains mark the third time that Hardy has introduced rain into the plot of the novel. Rain fell when Henchard and Susan were remarried. Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane were also caught in the rain. Now rain leads to Henchard's ridicule. In the next chapter, Hardy says that Henchard walks "stormfully" past Farfrae whenever they meet. In Chapter XXVI, the predicted rains that never arrive mark Henchard's total collapse in business. Each incidence of rain symbolizes a downward turn in Henchard's fortunes and a rise in Farfrae's. In Wessex, even nature conspires to punish those who would tempt fate. Henchard stands among the crowd and overhears talk about how much better Farfrae's holiday celebration was than his own. There is also gossip about how Farfrae has saved Henchard's business by introducing modern methods--"ciphering and mensuration"--instead of the old-fashioned chalk strokes and measurements that Henchard has always used. Henchard resents the praise that Farfrae seems to receive at his (Henchard's) expense. He goes into the pavilion and sees Farfrae dancing with Elizabeth-Jane. Henchard ignores her and begins a snide attack on his partner. When some of the town leaders mention how clever Farfrae is and predict that he will soon be number one in the business, Henchard says they are wrong because Farfrae is leaving his employ. Farfrae quietly accepts his dismissal. Henchard regrets his rashness the next day. Once again, however, he will not be able to undo what he has done. Farfrae is now determined to start a competing business. NOTE: HENCHARD'S PSYCHOLOGICAL DRIVES Henchard's overreaction to the celebration fiasco is certainly consistent with his character. He has a very deep need to succeed. Remember, he even auctioned his family because he felt they were preventing him from succeeding. Henchard has become successful by acting on instinct and by using tried-and-true business methods. For the first time, his instincts and traditional approaches are failing him. Farfrae's reason and modern thinking are taking over. Henchard's reactions are also very much like those of Saul. His fits of jealousy lead to brooding and then to self-destructive actions. (See the "Themes" section of this guide for more on the Saul/David theme in the novel.) As you can see, the rained-out celebration isn't a trivial incident after all. It reinforces Henchard's loss of control and signals Farfrae's ascendancy. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XVII: THE COMPETITION BEGINS While Henchard, Farfrae, and the other town leaders have been arguing, Elizabeth-Jane has been left alone in the pavilion. She wonders if she has offended anyone by dancing with Farfrae. She leaves, walking homeward in a depressed mood. Farfrae overtakes her, saying he wishes he could have danced with her again. The two continue talking, and Farfrae hints that he would like to ask her a special question soon. Do you think he means a marriage proposal? Elizabeth-Jane is not sure what he means, but she starts to behave like a young woman in love. She catches herself in what she thinks is her folly, and disapproves of her "immoderate" behavior. Once again, she is nervous about tempting fate. The focus shifts to Henchard and Farfrae. Henchard is hurt that Farfrae has taken him literally and has left the business. He is even more upset when he learns that Farfrae has established his own (competing) grain business. How can a friend act this way, Henchard asks the other town leaders. They don't seem particularly interested in his problem. In fact, they no longer seem at all interested in the Mayor for any reason. Henchard's influence is waning. Hardy links both themes in the chapter by arranging for Henchard to tell Elizabeth-Jane that he no longer wants her to see Farfrae. He even reiterates the point in a letter he sends to Farfrae. The letter illustrates Henchard's lack of finesse. What might Henchard have done if he was craftier? Farfrae opens his business, which grows as Henchard's continues to falter. Farfrae's rise and Henchard's decline underscore Hardy's continuing theme of modernization displacing traditionalism in Casterbridge, Wessex, and all of England. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XVIII: SUSAN DIES Susan becomes very ill and is dying. In an interesting stroke of irony, Henchard at the same time receives a letter from the other woman in his life, Lucetta. She is the woman from Jersey with whom he has had the affair, which he revealed earlier to Farfrae. Lucetta writes that she now fully understands why Henchard couldn't marry her before, and she asks that Henchard return all of the letters she had written him in the heat of passion and anger. She suggests that Henchard give them to her in person when she passes through Casterbridge the following week. On reading the letter, Henchard feels another pang of guilt and vows that he will marry Lucetta should he ever be in a position to do so. Packing up her letters, Henchard waits for her on the appointed evening, but Lucetta never arrives. Henchard feels relieved. Do you think he's glad that Lucetta hasn't appeared because she might complicate his life further, or is he happy that his relationship with her hasn't been ended? What evidence can you offer in support of your opinion? Before she dies, Susan does two things: she writes a letter to Henchard with instructions that he is not to open it until Elizabeth-Jane's wedding day; then she has a private word with her daughter. The talk solves one of the novel's mysteries. Susan identifies herself as the person who sent the notes to Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae, hoping they might fall in love and eventually marry. The letter, however, opens up a new mystery. What secret does it contain? The next morning Susan dies. Hardy has members of the town chorus comment on her death. The townspeople discuss Susan's final request that the pennies used to close her eyes be buried with her. (Traditionally, the British put pennies on a dead person's eyes to hold them closed.) This request is later violated when one of the townspeople, Christopher Coney, digs up the pennies and spends them at the Three Mariners. Even in death, Susan is unable to have her own way. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XIX: A SECRET IS REVEALED Three weeks after Susan's death, Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane have a talk. Henchard feels very lonely. He no longer has a wife or a close friend. He now feels he doesn't really have a daughter either because she doesn't know that he is her true father. Henchard decides to tell Elizabeth-Jane the truth--or at least part of it. He says that Susan and he were once married and thought each other dead, which is why Susan married Newson. Henchard tells her he is her real father and later asks the girl if she will now agree to change her name to his. Elizabeth-Jane says yes but wonders why her mother didn't wish her to make the change. Henchard attributes it to Susan's whim. Henchard decides to look for some proof to present to Elizabeth-Jane. He comes across the letter that he is not supposed to open until Elizabeth-Jane's wedding day. Susan's letter is poorly sealed, however, and Henchard feels little need to heed her request. The letter contains the worst possible news: Susan reveals that their own Elizabeth-Jane died in infancy. The girl who now lives with him is really Susan and Newson's daughter. Henchard is devastated. He begins to wonder if he is not a prisoner of a fickle fate. He walks through some of the darkest recesses of Casterbridge. Although Hardy has never shown you this somber side of the town before, you will see it many more times as the novel progresses. NOTE: LIGHT AND DARK IMAGES Chapter XIX focuses on a series of light and dark images. This interplay of light and darkness parallels Henchard's emotions, which change from bright excitement to dark brooding as the chapter progresses. First, Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane sit by the fire with the candles unlit. "Acrobatic flames" from the fire emphasize the shapes in the sitting room. Later, Henchard offers to bring over a bright light so that Elizabeth-Jane can write out the name-change advertisement for the local newspaper, but she says the firelight is sufficient. Later, after reading Susan's letter, Henchard carries a shaded light into Elizabeth-Jane's room to study her appearance while she sleeps. He notices that her features are fair while his are dark. Then Henchard walks through the dark regions of Casterbridge. Even the morning sun promises no light for Henchard. He sees his great plans crumbling into dark "dust and ashes." How do all of these images make you feel? Do they vividly symbolize Henchard's feelings of entrapment by guilt and fate? Until now, the sun has been shining on Henchard--in fact, it has shone since the morning after the auction (see the first sentence of Chapter II). From now on, his life will be clouded by darkness and dark images. The following morning (after his walk), Elizabeth-Jane takes Henchard's arm at breakfast and calls him "Father." It should be a glorious moment for Henchard, but he feels miserable, as dark and dry as dust and ashes. This chapter ends the second section of the plot of The Mayor of Casterbridge. This segment has chronicled Michael Henchard's personal life from the happiness of reunion with his family, through to the development of a close friendship with Farfrae, to the depths of loss of each through death, argument, or simply fate. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XX: ANOTHER STRANGER ARRIVES The arrival of another stranger marks the opening of the third section of the novel. Hardy doesn't reveal the person's identity for a few chapters more. Do you think he is trying to pique your interest or does he have another reason for not identifying the newcomer? This chapter and the next add to the fable or fairy-tale atmosphere (see note in Chapter XIV discussion) that Hardy weaves into the novel. As Elizabeth-Jane suffers bitter and unwarranted attacks from her "wicked step-father," an apparent fairy godmother or good witch arrives to rescue her. Elizabeth-Jane is surprised by Henchard's cold and even belligerent treatment of her. Henchard makes a particular point of criticizing the colloquial expressions she uses, commenting that she sounds too lower class to be a mayor's daughter. As you have seen before, Henchard is very concerned with other people's thoughts about him and his family. He is obviously so self-conscious about his own simple background that he even worries whether his daughter's speech will reveal his humble beginnings. Henchard's concern with appearance now contrasts sharply with his lack of concern about background while courting Susan (see Chapter XIII). At that time, his sense of guilt overrode his snobbery. He feels no such guilt about Elizabeth-Jane--particularly since she isn't his flesh and blood. The democratic Elizabeth-Jane does many things that Henchard considers "social crimes," but which you probably admire. Like most of us today, she does many of the household tasks herself, rather than burden the servants. She even provides refreshments for Nance Mockridge, one of the women who works in the yard. In a voice loud enough for the worker to overhear, Henchard chides Elizabeth-Jane about serving Nance: "Ye'll disgrace me to the dust!" This outburst seems to echo the same image of dust and despair that appeared at the end of the last chapter. Nance replies in anger that the girl has waited on others worse than she, and then tells Henchard that Elizabeth-Jane was a serving-maid at the Three Mariners. Henchard is sure the incident will ruin his reputation in the town. At this point, everything seems to be going wrong for Elizabeth-Jane. She keeps trying to improve herself by both reading and carefully watching her speech pattern. But her father appears to continue disliking her. She notes that his attitude began, ironically, directly after she agreed to take his name. Also, Farfrae seems to be ignoring her. She doesn't know about Henchard's letter to the Scotsman demanding that the two young people not meet, nor has she anyone with whom she can share her concerns. Elizabeth-Jane thus turns everything in on herself. One day while walking toward her mother's grave, Elizabeth-Jane spots a beautifully dressed young woman reading the inscription on Susan's tombstone. Hardy's use of mystery to advance the plot is evident again. Who can this woman be? From her dress and appearance, she is clearly not a Casterbridge woman. Why is she interested in Susan's grave? Could this be Henchard's "other woman"? Elizabeth-Jane comes home and accidentally slips a rustic word into her friendly greeting to Henchard. He angrily attacks her. Henchard is sure that the girl's acting as a serving-maid in the Three Mariners is the reason he has been overlooked for a vacancy on the list of town aldermen now that his term as mayor has ended. Deciding that she must leave his house, he writes to Farfrae, inviting the Scotsman to court the girl. The next day, Elizabeth-Jane returns in depression to her mother's grave. Again she sees the strange lady, who begins questioning her about her father's treatment of her. The woman seems to take Henchard's side, saying that although he appears hot-tempered and ambitious, he is not a bad man. Her assessment of Henchard is fairly accurate. Do you think that she already knows him? Once again, you have a hint that the beautiful stranger might be Lucetta. The woman tells Elizabeth-Jane that she is moving to Casterbridge today and invites the girl to move in with her as her companion. Elizabeth-Jane's eyes gleam with excitement. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXI: ELIZABETH-JANE MOVES OUT The same afternoon, Elizabeth-Jane goes into town where she overhears many of the local merchants talking about the beautiful lady and her new home, High-Place Hall. Elizabeth-Jane walks to the house at nightfall and studies it. You see the structure through her eyes. Hardy the architect is at work again here. He carefully describes High-Place Hall: It is dignified but not aristocratic. One townsperson notes cryptically that "Blood built it, and wealth enjoys it." This statement and the rest of Hardy's description of the structure fits the sense of mystery and strong emotion that he has been trying to create throughout the novel. The sense of mystery is enhanced when Elizabeth-Jane sees a stranger approaching the house from an alleyway. Because she hides, she doesn't realize that the stranger is Henchard. Henchard enters but obviously doesn't stay long, since he arrives home only a few minutes after Elizabeth-Jane. Noting how coldly Henchard treats her, Elizabeth-Jane decides this is the time to leave. Broaching the subject of moving to Henchard, she is relieved when he agrees. Elizabeth-Jane and the beautiful stranger begin making plans together, and a few days later, Elizabeth-Jane is ready to leave. Henchard is shocked to discover that Elizabeth-Jane is leaving him so quickly. He goes to her room for the first time and sees her books and maps, evidence of her efforts to improve herself. He tries to apologize and convince Elizabeth-Jane to stay, but she has already made up her mind. When Henchard learns that she is moving into High-Place Hall, he is almost paralyzed by shock. For perhaps the first time in the novel, Henchard seems totally out of control. Notice how his stance changes quickly from toughness to gentleness to speechlessness on the last page of the chapter. Too late he recognizes that he is losing something--or someone--important. His life is caught in a downward spiral that will continue for the rest of the novel. You might also note that it is raining when Elizabeth-Jane decides to move. Once again, Hardy uses rain to symbolize a decline in Henchard's fortunes. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXII: A BATTLE OF WILLS Hardy presents a brief flashback to explain Henchard's mysterious visit to High-Place Hall. Remember that he has used this stylistic technique several times earlier in the novel. The night before, Henchard received a note from Lucetta telling him of her intention to move to Casterbridge to be near him. She writes that she knows about the death of his wife and hopes he is now ready to keep his promise to marry her and rescue her reputation. She hopes to see him within a day or two. NOTE: THE WOMEN OF THE NOVEL Lucetta is the third important female character to appear in the novel. Her letter reveals how different she is from Susan and Elizabeth-Jane. Lucetta is energetic and strong-willed--very similar to Henchard himself. She also seems slightly malicious and conceited, as shown in her analysis of Susan as an uncomplaining sufferer and intellectually weak person (though "not an imbecile"). She clearly won't let Henchard dominate her as he has dominated Susan and Elizabeth-Jane. You begin to wonder how Lucetta's arrival will change Henchard's life. In his concentration on women in his novels, Hardy was an unusual writer for his times. His strong interest in women may have inspired later writers, particularly D. H. Lawrence. On the whole, Hardy's female characters are his most memorable. Yet none of the women in The Mayor of Casterbridge achieves the stature of some of his other major women--Bathsheba Everdine in Far from the Madding Crowd, Eustacia Vye in The Return of the Native, Tess Durbeyfield in Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and Sue Bridehead in Jude the Obscure. Each is a type. For example, Susan is the long-suffering, passive woman who marries the wrong man. Elizabeth-Jane is the young innocent moving into proper womanhood. Lucetta is the sensual, emotional woman seeking social status. After receiving Lucetta's note, Henchard goes to High-Place Hall to visit her. He fails to see her because he doesn't realize that she has changed her surname from Le Sueur to Templeman (that is, from sensual French to proper English). In a second letter the next day, Lucetta clarifies the reason for her change of name and explains why she has invited Elizabeth-Jane to move in with her. The girl's presence when Henchard visits Lucetta will satisfy propriety and formalize their relationship. Henchard admires Lucetta's wiles and sets out to see her at once, feeling mixed emotions toward her. What he doesn't expect, however, is her strong will. She refuses to see him that evening, but asks him to return the next day. Henchard, deciding that two people can play Lucetta's game, resolves to put her off for a while as well. Have you ever played that game with someone you cared for? What were the results? Meanwhile, Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane become acquainted. Both spend a lot of time looking out the large picture window of the house. Elizabeth-Jane notices Farfrae among the trees outside, while Lucetta watches for Henchard. NOTE: LUCETTA'S WINDOW All of Casterbridge life seems to pass in front of the window in High-Place Hall. For Lucetta, the window clearly symbolizes her need to place herself above the rest of the town (note that her house is named High-Place). She has pretensions of being a great lady. For shy, withdrawn, Elizabeth-Jane, the window serves as protection from the real world. She can watch and observe others without becoming too involved. The openness and central location of High-Place Hall contrasts strongly against the closeness and isolation of Henchard's house, where he separates himself from the town. Significantly, Farfrae and Lucetta will eventually take over Henchard's house. When they do, they too will become isolated and aloof--with tragic results for Lucetta. When Elizabeth-Jane tells Lucetta that she believes her father has turned against her, Lucetta decides that her plans have gone awry. Elizabeth-Jane's presence is keeping Henchard away, rather than encouraging him to visit. Lucetta dispatches her on an errand to the museum, sending a message by servant to Henchard, asking him to visit her right away. She instructs her servants to admit her gentleman caller as soon as he arrives. A man comes to see her, and she rushes impetuously to greet him, but it isn't Henchard. What complications do you think Lucetta will create? From the first, she is a disruptive influence. Even before coming to Casterbridge, she is the source of Henchard's unease. Once there, Lucetta encourages Henchard's daughter to leave his house. Now she is playing more games with him. Later, she will cause an even greater rift between Henchard and Farfrae. Even though she has been wronged by Henchard, some readers feel she is most unsympathetic. They see her as pretentious and devious two very unattractive characteristics. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXIII: A NEW ROMANTIC INTEREST The unexpected visitor turns out to be Donald Farfrae, who has come to see Elizabeth-Jane. Lucetta covers her mistake with a blush. She is coquettish. Farfrae, on the other hand, is formal. Lucetta is immediately attracted to the young Scotsman. She sees qualities in him that remind her of a musical instrument. (Remember, Hardy often links Farfrae with music and with the biblical musician David.) As they make small talk, Lucetta chats about loneliness while Farfrae discusses his business ventures. The mutual flirtation continues. Together they watch from Lucetta's window and comment on the view it gives of Casterbridge life. Meanwhile, a farmer standing in the area below the window states that he was supposed to meet Farfrae now. The Scotsman tells Lucetta, "I quite forgot the engagement." This seems to apply to Lucetta as well. Intrigued by Farfrae, she has quite forgotten her engagement to Henchard. Farfrae leaves after promising to return soon. Henchard then arrives in response to Lucetta's latest note. Asserting his will, he adds that he is in a hurry. Lucetta responds by claiming she has a headache and therefore won't detain the Mayor. When Elizabeth-Jane returns, Lucetta greets her warmly. She now wants the girl to stay, hoping this will keep Henchard away from High-Place Hall. This confrontation with Lucetta is the second battle of wills that Henchard has had to fight recently. The first was when he rashly fired Farfrae. That Henchard has lost both battles, and at the same time lost two close friends, illustrates his loss of control over the events and people in his life. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXIV: THE WOMEN DISCUSS THE MEN Elizabeth-Jane settles comfortably into High-Place Hall. She particularly likes the view of the marketplace that the window provides. She and Lucetta make certain to be home on market days so that each can glimpse Farfrae at work. One Saturday morning, the two women put on new dresses and look out the window. They see a curious modern farm machine. Lucetta says the machine seems to be an "agricultural piano." The music image immediately links the new machine to Farfrae. As if on cue, Farfrae appears and walks around the contraption. Both women examine the machine more closely. Then Henchard appears, greeting Elizabeth-Jane in a "thunderous" way (another rain image or an example of Henchard's lack of finesse?). Henchard belittles the machine and begins to ridicule Farfrae for bringing it to Casterbridge. The women hear a man humming from the machine, called a seed-drill. Each recognizes the hummer as Farfrae. Note how Hardy introduces Henchard with thunder and Farfrae with music. He is emphasizing their relation to the story of Saul and David through these images, as well as indicating the two men's responses to the new machine. Farfrae explains the advantages of the seed-drill to the women. NOTE: MODERNIZATION COMES TO CASTERBRIDGE Hardy uses the seed-drill to symbolize how modern methods are slowly replacing traditional ones in Wessex. Farfrae is linked with the machine and therefore with modernization while Henchard's criticism identifies him with the old ways. Farfrae will rapidly replace Henchard as well. Farfrae welcomes the machine for business reasons: it is economical, and it is popular in the more up-to-date areas of England. Elizabeth-Jane laments how the machine will end the "romance of the sower" in Wessex. Hardy seems to be saying that modernization is inevitable and costs dearly. The meeting with Farfrae and Henchard leads the two women later to begin a serious discussion of women and respectability. Elizabeth-Jane says she has shadows in her life, and Lucetta hints that she has her own shadows. Lucetta adds that women are sometimes placed in strange positions in the eyes of the world, through no fault of their own. She is secretly worrying about the love letters that Henchard hasn't yet returned to her. Lucetta's comment demonstrates what many readers consider to be Hardy's feelings about the position of women in nineteenth-century England. In nearly all of Hardy's novels, women characters confront reputation-ruining difficulties caused by the actions of men toward them. Even more than men, Victorian women are bound by society's stringent rules. Hardy's women characters are often strong and independent, but they are seldom allowed to live their lives freely. Based on Lucetta's words about and actions toward Farfrae, Elizabeth begins to suspect that Lucetta is interested in the Scotsman. A few days later, Lucetta decides to confide in Elizabeth-Jane. She tells her about an unnamed woman who became intimate with a man who could not marry her. They stayed apart for a long time, until the obstacle to their marriage was removed. The woman, however, had by this time met another man whom she liked better. What should the woman do, Lucetta asks Elizabeth, who declines to answer, recognizing that the story is really about Lucetta. You might notice the parallels between this discussion and the one that Henchard and Farfrae had much earlier (Chapter XII) about Henchard's problems with women. Hardy is showing that men and women face similar problems and have similar emotions. Does this seem a modern way of thinking? Yet Henchard was much more open than Lucetta, and Farfrae was much quicker to give advice than is Elizabeth-Jane. Do you think Hardy is contrasting the characters of these four people or the quality of their relationships in these parallel scenes, or does he perhaps think women are more secretive and less willing to assert themselves than men are? Reread the earlier scene to help you decide. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXV: LUCETTA MAKES HER CHOICE In the next two chapters, Lucetta becomes the focal point of love on the part of both Farfrae and Henchard. Elizabeth-Jane becomes a bystander. First, Farfrae visits High-Place Hall. He indicates that he has come to see both women, but he has eyes only for Lucetta. Elizabeth-Jane stoically accepts this fact. Fate seems to be against her again. Henchard's passion for Lucetta is also aroused by her lack of interest in him. He realizes that being cool toward her will not win her over; he must go on the offensive. Thus, he calls on Lucetta. Impressed by the richness of the house and its furnishings, he feels, for the first time in many years, like a rough, unsophisticated laborer. This drives him to be more aggressive than he had planned. He almost demands that Lucetta accept his proposal--in order to rescue her fallen reputation. Indignant, Lucetta replies that Henchard only cares about the past and Jersey. "I am English!" she exclaims. She is no longer a Le Sueur, but is now a Templeman. She believes that by changing her name, she can change her past as well. She has clearly not learned the most important lesson of the novel: people cannot change their fate. Your reading of the novel tells you that something bad might happen to her in the end because of her immoderate attitude. At that moment, Lucetta observes Farfrae riding by outside her window. Henchard doesn't see his rival or note the loving expression in Lucetta's eyes. Angry and confused, he leaves the house. After he has gone, Lucetta makes up her mind. She will love Farfrae and not be a slave to her past. Is she right in renouncing her commitment to Henchard? For the rest of the chapter, Hardy shifts the focus to Elizabeth-Jane as she observes Lucetta and the two suitors. Her quiet acceptance of losing Farfrae contrasts sharply with Lucetta's decision to tempt fate by starting a relationship with a new man instead of the one who can restore her reputation. You might think of the fable of the tortoise and the hare again. Like the hare, Lucetta races ahead but is doomed to failure in the end. Like the tortoise, Elizabeth-Jane will survive and ultimately triumph. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXVI: COMPETING IN LOVE AND BUSINESS You might call Chapter XXVI "The weather chapter." Hardy turns to images of nature and weather to emphasize the downward movement of Henchard's fortunes. The chapter begins on "one fine spring morning" and proceeds to a period of heavy rainfall, an encounter with a mysterious weather-prophet, and a period of unexpected fair weather that helps to ruin Henchard. Remember that Hardy has linked Henchard with rain several times earlier in the novel. He builds on that connection here. Henchard meets Farfrae on the fine spring morning. He asks if the Scotsman remembers his story of the second woman in his past. Henchard says the story has a new chapter. He has asked the woman to marry him, but she has refused. Farfrae replies that Henchard therefore no longer has an obligation to her. The two men part, with Henchard now reassured that Farfrae is not his conscious rival for Lucetta's affections. Yet he still suspects that he has a rival. This encounter also tells you that Farfrae is ignorant of Lucetta's "shady" past. How do you think the proper Scotsman might feel if he knew about Lucetta's affair with Henchard? The love rivalry comes to a head soon afterwards. Henchard visits Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane when Farfrae arrives. The four sit stiffly at the table. Lucetta offers more bread, and the two men grab the same slice, tearing it in two. Remember that bread is an important symbol for Henchard, the wheat merchant. In your opinion, what does Farfrae's tearing of the bread mean? Uncertain of how to beat Farfrae in love, Henchard decides to destroy him in business. He hires Joshua Jopp as his new grain manager. Remember, Jopp had earlier lost his job to Farfrae. Look carefully at Hardy's description of Jopp. It is filled with images of darkness and evil. Jopp looks a little like a Halloween scarecrow, appropriately colored green for envy. Having lived in Jersey, Jopp hints that he knows the truth about Lucetta and Henchard. Jopp of course wants to destroy Farfrae, who stole his job. Henchard's call to Jopp for help can only inject negative consequences into Henchard's rivalry with Farfrae. Elizabeth-Jane recognizes Jopp's potential for evil and warns Henchard, but he won't listen. Harvest season approaches, and the weather in Casterbridge turns unfavorable. Heavy rains and floods may come. Henchard and Jopp both believe the weather will remain bad. To confirm this, Henchard decides to consult a weather-prophet. Henchard's visit to the weather-prophet resembles a scene from a horror movie. It is raining heavily when he arrives. (Rain marks most of Henchard's low points in the novel.) The prophet, Fall (note the symbolism of his name), answers Henchard's knock, greeting him by name, even though Henchard is disguised. Fall even has a place set for Henchard at the table, but the Mayor declines to eat. He is uneasy. The prophet forecasts heavy rain throughout the harvest season. Hardy has several reasons for introducing the weather-prophet. For one thing, he wants to show the superstitious nature of Henchard and the people of Casterbridge. Even in its position as an urban center, Casterbridge is still a rustic place with antiquated customs. For another, Hardy wants to emphasize Henchard's desperate frame of mind. In previous years, Henchard has arrogantly trusted his own judgment and has never resorted to occult help. He is desperate now and fearful. Note Hardy's use of words such as "lonely," "solitary," "shrouded," and "suffering" as Henchard approaches the seer's cottage. The words emphasize Henchard's agitated state of mind. Hardy's third purpose is to provide important literary allusions that illustrate Henchard's tragic nature. NOTE: A CLASSIC ALLUSION Henchard's visit to the weather-prophet links the Mayor with a classic tragic hero, Saul. Hardy's account closely parallels the biblical story of Saul's visit to the witch of Endor (I Samuel 28). Saul, too, was seeking advice from supernatural sources on the eve of a major battle. He disguised himself, was recognized, and was offered food. The witch called forth the spirit of Samuel, who prophesied Saul's death in battle and his displacement as king by David. Similarly, Henchard seeks advice before his major battle with Farfrae. The advice of the weather-prophet turns out to be wrong, but it is just as damning to him as was Samuel's prediction to Saul. Henchard and Farfrae have been linked to Saul and David several times before in The Mayor of Casterbridge. Hardy's audience would have recognized the allusion here and its foreshadowing of Henchard's displacement by Farfrae, the David figure. Using the prophet's prediction, Henchard buys as much wheat as possible. He is sure that a poor harvest will inflate prices and make him rich. Instead, the rains stop, prices fall, and Henchard must sell his overstock at a great loss. He is even forced to mortgage much of his property. Farfrae commiserates with Henchard about his loss, but his rival's sympathy serves only to anger Henchard. He takes out that anger on Jopp, as usual blaming someone else for his losses. He fires Jopp, who warns Henchard, "You'll be sorry for this, sir; sorry as a man can be!" ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXVII: HENCHARD DEMANDS A WEDDING Farfrae and Henchard's rivalry becomes more intense. Even the men who work for the two are caught up in the battle. One day, wagons belonging to each company collide. Henchard's man is at fault, but he won't admit it. Henchard arrives on the scene and berates Farfrae's man. Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane, having witnessed the accident from their window, rush out to tell Henchard that his man was responsible. The workman defends himself by referring to Lucetta as a "typical" woman who is attracted to Farfrae. Henchard quickly silences the man by claiming that he is Lucetta's suitor. Lucetta responds by leaving the scene without comment. Later, Henchard, spying on Lucetta, overhears Lucetta and Farfrae declare their love for each other. He follows Lucetta back to her home and barges in without knocking, demanding to know why she won't marry him. When she balks, he threatens to reveal their affair ("in common fairness to other men," particularly Farfrae) if she doesn't promise before a witness to marry him. Lucetta resigns herself to his demand. Henchard is aware of her unwillingness, but he doesn't care. Elizabeth-Jane is summoned to act as witness. Lucetta makes the promise, then faints. Elizabeth-Jane tries to talk Henchard out of his plan, but he refuses, at the same time reminding her that she is now free to pursue Farfrae. Ignoring the suggestion, Elizabeth-Jane wonders what kind of hold Henchard has over Lucetta. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXVIII: HENCHARD'S PAST IS REVEALED The next morning, Henchard serves as justice of the peace and hears the case of a woman arrested for vagrancy and indecent behavior. Seeing the woman, Henchard believes he may know her, but isn't certain. (With this, Hardy prepares you for another of the novel's many significant coincidences.) Henchard asks if the woman has anything to say for herself. She begins a story about a wife and child auctioned by the husband in her furmity tent at Weydon-Priors fair nearly 20 years earlier. She accuses Henchard of being that man, and says he is no better than she. Henchard's past has come back to haunt him. He finds himself being judged while he is serving as judge. The town leaders at the court discount the woman's story but, Henchard admits that it is true. He could easily have denied it and saved his reputation. Why do you think he chose not to do so? As Henchard leaves the town hall, he finds himself surrounded by a large crowd of the town's lower-class people. Notice how different this meeting is from the last time Henchard was observed by the townspeople in the King's Arms (Chapter V). He has been symbolically driven from his lofty place (what the furmity woman has called his "great big chair"). Within a few chapters, he will fall so far as to live among these people. The news of Henchard's past spreads quickly throughout Casterbridge and reaches Lucetta. She is overwhelmed by it. Can she really marry such a terrible man? She decides to go away for a few days, and tells Elizabeth-Jane, who hasn't yet heard the news. Henchard comes to call while Lucetta is away. On one of his visits, he learns that she has returned but is out for a walk. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXIX: A SECRET MARRIAGE Elizabeth-Jane goes to meet Lucetta on her walk, and the two women are attacked by a ferocious bull. They run into a barn but the bull follows. Suddenly a man appears, turning the bull away from the women. It is Henchard. Elizabeth-Jane leaves Henchard and Lucetta together and walks toward home. Henchard tells Lucetta he has reconsidered the promise he forced from her, adding that for her sake he is willing to postpone their wedding for a year or two. Lucetta instead offers to pay him for saving her from the bull. Lucetta's offer of money seems to echo Henchard's offer to Lucetta in his long-ago letter in which he informed her that he could not marry her because of the return of Susan. Their roles have now reversed. Henchard refuses Lucetta's offer, telling her he believes his creditors might give him more time to pay his debts if they thought he might marry the wealthy Miss Lucetta Templeman. Lucetta refuses, revealing that Henchard's principal creditor has already witnessed her marriage to Farfrae earlier in the week. NOTE: MONEY AND MARRIAGE This chapter marks the second time that money has been closely linked to escape from marriage. Both times, money has been offered to Henchard. This time he refuses to accept it, not because he has learned from his experience with Susan, but because he realizes the money would not help him pay off all his financial and moral debts. You have already seen that to Henchard, marriage is more of an obligation (like a business transaction) than a personal relationship. He has reaffirmed this notion by his suggestion that they announce their betrothal in order to help him escape the wrath of his creditors. Lucetta, on the other hand, believes that money can buy her romantic happiness by helping her escape from Henchard and possess Farfrae. Both characters are deluded and will suffer for their delusions. Henchard is shocked. Lucetta cites his past scandal as one of the major reasons she has broken her promise. Henchard doesn't even see the irony in Lucetta's breaking of her marriage pledge to him, just as he had once broken his marriage pledge to her. Lucetta's comment at the end of the chapter, "I'll help you pay off your debt," reflects this irony. Henchard's current suffering is a symbolic pay-off of his debt to Susan and the community for his earlier breach of morality when he auctioned his family. In reaction to Lucetta's news, Henchard dismisses her with the threat that he will tell Lucetta's new husband, Farfrae, about her earlier affair with him. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXX: ELIZABETH-JANE'S RESPONSE As Farfrae moves into High-Place Hall, Lucetta realizes that she hasn't yet told Elizabeth-Jane about her marriage. She doesn't suspect Elizabeth-Jane's feelings for Farfrae. When Lucetta speaks to the girl in her room, she learns that although Elizabeth-Jane has heard the wedding bells ringing, she doesn't know who has been married. NOTE: ELIZABETH-JANE: INNOCENT OR PRUDISH? Elizabeth-Jane always seems lost in a strange private world in which rumor or speculation never enter. Otherwise, how can you explain her not guessing about Lucetta's marriage, not hearing about the furmity woman's accusation of Henchard, or not figuring out the link between Henchard and Lucetta? Hardy seems to emphasize the girl's innocence, but his portrayal isn't very convincing. In Elizabeth-Jane's responses to Lucetta, she also appears prudish. Do you think Hardy wants you to feel positively or negatively about Elizabeth-Jane? Her plight constantly arouses your sympathy, but her attitude is hard to understand. Much of the rest of the novel focuses on her future. Follow Hardy's descriptions carefully to see if her character develops and grows. Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane discuss Lucetta's story about the two men in "her friend's" past. Elizabeth-Jane says the friend is obligated to marry the first man even though she loves the second, that she should marry the first man or remain single. Elizabeth-Jane's response seems similar to Farfrae's in Chapter XII, when he recommended that Henchard simply disregard the second woman because of his obligation to the first. Neither Farfrae nor Elizabeth-Jane are romantics. Farfrae takes a matter-of-fact approach to relationships, as does Elizabeth-Jane. When Lucetta reveals that she has married Farfrae instead of Henchard, Elizabeth-Jane determines to leave the house at once. She is upset both by Lucetta's "improper" behavior and by her own failure to win Farfrae. She moves to a house across the street from Henchard's and thinks about her future. This chapter marks the end of the third major section of the novel. The section began with Lucetta's arrival in Casterbridge to marry Henchard and ends with her marrying Farfrae. Henchard has started to pay for his past sins. He is inexorably losing his position to Farfrae. Old ways and old people are being turned out, and new ways and new people are taking over. Nearly all of the loose ends in Henchard's life have been accounted for. Only one lie, Elizabeth-Jane's true parentage, remains to be revealed. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXXI: HENCHARD GOES BANKRUPT Following the furmity woman's courtroom revelation, Henchard experiences a rapid financial collapse. At the same time, his social life and self-esteem also collapse. "He passed the ridge of prosperity and honour, and began to descend rapidly on the other side." Used to conducting business with a handshake and strong eye contact, he now seldom looks up from the ground when he meets people. Several business setbacks have forced him to the edge of bankruptcy. Henchard is summoned to a meeting of his creditors. When all of his assets have been seized, he even offers to turn over his gold watch and the money in his pocketbook. The creditors refuse the offer but praise Henchard for his honesty. Nevertheless, he sells the watch and uses the money to pay off one small creditor. He clearly wants to convince himself that he pays his debts. Are you impressed by his actions here? Elizabeth-Jane feels sorry for Henchard and wants him to know that she still believes in him and forgives him for his behavior toward her, but he refuses to see her. Henchard has moved into the slum area of town. He occupies a few rooms in Jopp's cottage. This move seems to be another example of Henchard's urge to punish himself. He has isolated himself from the powerful people in the town and has made himself dependent on someone he neither respects nor likes. He refuses to see anyone, including Elizabeth-Jane. Meanwhile, Elizabeth-Jane notes that Farfrae has had his name painted over Henchard's on the gateway to Henchard's former business. Abel Whittle says that the new boss pays a little less than the old one but doesn't strike fear into the hearts of the workers. NOTE: ABEL WHITTLE'S ROLE Abel Whittle appears several times in the novel, always at a critical moment in Henchard's downfall. Perhaps that is why Hardy names him "Whittle." Abel may be dim-witted, but he has the same type of innate wisdom as the fool in Shakespeare's King Lear. Here, Abel tells Elizabeth-Jane, "For what's all the world if your heart is in a larry (commotion), Miss Henchet?" The statement seems to fit Henchard's situation as well. Abel will resemble Lear's fool again at the novel's end. Elizabeth-Jane's sympathy contrasts sharply with Farfrae's apparent callousness toward Henchard. Farfrae doesn't let his feelings interfere with business matters. He rushes in to take over Henchard's business and even cuts the salaries of his workers. The new order is taking over in Casterbridge. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXXII: THE TABLES ARE TURNED Having moved Henchard to the poor side of town, Hardy begins to focus on the people and places in that district. He points out two bridges in the area. One is frequented by the lowest characters in the town, such as Jopp and the members of the town chorus. The other is often visited by failures who are contemplating suicide. Henchard goes to the latter bridge, where Jopp seeks him out. Ever vengeful, Jopp tells Henchard that Farfrae and Lucetta have moved into his former house and have even bought his old furniture at auction. "Surely he'll buy my body and soul likewise!" Henchard says. The landscape turns symbolically blacker as Farfrae drives up to see Henchard. Farfrae says he has heard that Henchard intends to move away, urging him to stay, much as Henchard had urged Farfrae long ago. He invites Henchard to move in with Lucetta and him, but Henchard refuses. Farfrae mentions the furniture he has bought and offers Henchard his pick of it. Henchard is moved and wonders aloud if he has wronged Farfrae in some way and is therefore suffering now because of his past sins. Elizabeth-Jane hears that Henchard is sick and comes to nurse him. With her help, he recovers quickly. Being reunited with Elizabeth-Jane seems to turn the clock back in Henchard's mind. He applies for a job as a journeyman hay-trusser in Farfrae's yard. Henchard hears that his rival may soon become Mayor of Casterbridge. He begins counting the days until he is released from his oath against drinking. The expiration of the oath seems to symbolize for Henchard a return to his old self. He doesn't realize that he must pay further for his sins. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXXIII: HENCHARD'S BITTERNESS BUILDS This chapter opens in the Three Mariners Inn. Early in the novel, Hardy contrasted the King's Arms with the Three Mariners. High-class business people dine and drink at the King's Arms; the laboring people patronize the Three Mariners. Henchard has left the King's Arms and the gentry for good after the furmity woman's revelation. Now he drinks with the lower classes at the Three Mariners. One Sunday, Henchard joins the regulars as they drink and sing psalms. Henchard spots Farfrae and his new bride, Lucetta, walking outside with members of the upper church (that is, the upper classes). Henchard searches for the perfect psalm to match his mood: Psalm 109. This bitter psalm calls for the death and destruction of a man and his family--exactly what has happened to Henchard. The choir members at first balk at singing the psalm, but Henchard bullies them into it. They are later regretful when Henchard reveals he has directed the psalm at Farfrae. Noting Henchard's agitated state, Elizabeth-Jane leads her father home. She decides to watch both men closely. A few days later, Lucetta encounters Henchard. She is surprised to see him. He acts snidely toward her. That afternoon, she sends a note to Henchard, demanding that he show her more respect. Lucetta's habit of putting her feelings into writing is unwise. Remember, she has written numerous love letters to Henchard that he never returned. What if he should decide to use her letters against her? He contemplates using this note but throws it into the fire. Henchard may be bitter, but he isn't a blackmailer. Meanwhile, Elizabeth-Jane continues to observe Henchard and Farfrae. (Note that Hardy once again uses an outside observer to relay the action to you.) One afternoon, she notices Farfrae in the hay-loft. Unnoticed, Henchard is a few steps behind him. Henchard raises his hand as if to push Farfrae down, but he stops. Henchard obviously isn't a murderer, either. What do you think stops him from destroying Farfrae and Lucetta? Is Hardy showing fate at work or Henchard's "character"? Henchard is a paradoxical mixture of powerlessness and power. This combination frightens Elizabeth-Jane, who decides to warn Farfrae. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXXIV: OPENING THE LETTERS In the previous chapter, Hardy introduced two important ideas: First, Henchard's desire to destroy Farfrae and Lucetta, and second, Lucetta's tendency to put her feelings into letters that can be used against her. Hardy develops these ideas in this chapter. As the chapter opens, Elizabeth-Jane warns Farfrae about Henchard. Farfrae doesn't believe her at first. "But we are quite friendly," he says. Farfrae is oblivious to the fact that by taking over the older man's house and business and hiring him as a common worker, he may have deeply hurt Henchard's pride. Once again Hardy shows Farfrae's lack of feeling and his insensitivity to Henchard. Other businessmen in the town support Elizabeth-Jane's warning, however. They convince Farfrae to abandon the idea of establishing a fund to set up Henchard in his own small business. Henchard mistakenly believes Farfrae is behind the withdrawal, and feels even more bitter toward him. Farfrae tells Lucetta about Henchard's hostility, and she becomes alarmed. She tries to talk Farfrae into moving away, and he seems agreeable. Just then, however, a member of the town council arrives to tell Farfrae that the current mayor has just died, and to ask if Farfrae will become mayor. Farfrae agrees. Again fate has intervened. Fearing that Henchard, in his hatred toward Farfrae, might expose her secret, Lucetta seeks out Henchard, begging him to return her letters. He puts her off. Later, he remembers that the letters are still in the safe in his former home. This memory brings "a grotesque grin" to Henchard's face. The next night, Henchard comes to retrieve the letters from Farfrae. Henchard states that they were written by the second woman in the story he had told Farfrae long before. Farfrae asks what has happened to the woman, and Henchard replies that she "married well." He begins reading the letters aloud to Farfrae. Their passion reminds Farfrae a little of Lucetta, but he attributes the similarity to the fact that all women are alike. At first, Henchard planned to identify the signature on the letters, as a final blow, but he loses his nerve. Hardy has created a series of cruel ironies and coincidences along with the incident with the letters. If Lucetta had known the letters were in her own safe all along, she could have destroyed them. If Farfrae had not prevented Henchard from leaving town by hiring him, Henchard would not be in a position to possibly destroy the relationship between Farfrae and Lucetta. If Farfrae had not moved into Henchard's old house, the letters might have been thrown out. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXXV: LUCETTA'S REACTION As is common in The Mayor of Casterbridge, the conversation between Henchard and Farfrae is overheard by an outside observer, Lucetta. She is almost paralyzed with fear. Later, she is relieved to find that Farfrae still doesn't know that she wrote the letters. She debates telling him the truth, but instead decides to retrieve the letters. Characteristically, she writes another self-incriminating note to Henchard and sets up an even more dangerous meeting at The Ring, the Roman amphitheatre where Henchard originally met Susan when she returned to Casterbridge. Henchard is moved by Lucetta's pleas, and promises to return the letters to her. At the same time, he warns her to tell Farfrae the truth soon. While Henchard may have seemed vengeful or weak at the end of the last chapter, he impresses you as being sensitive in his meeting with Lucetta. He is clearly the kind of man who can inspire passionate love letters. In this respect, he contrasts sharply with Farfrae once again. Ask yourself why Lucetta has chosen Farfrae over Henchard. Possibly Lucetta Le Sueur, the French woman, would have chosen Henchard, but Lucetta Templeman, the English woman, would rather have the wealth and position that marriage to Farfrae promises. She, too, is tempting fate and hiding behind a new identity, just as Henchard has. From what you have seen so far, it's fair to say that her ambition may prove disastrous. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXXVI: JOPP GETS THE LETTERS Hardy makes sure that you are aware of Henchard's warning to Lucetta at the end of the previous chapter. He then develops that situation by introducing the evil Jopp at the beginning of the following chapter. Although Henchard may not be a blackmailer, Jopp is. He asks Lucetta to convince her husband to give him a job. He also mentions that he knew her in Jersey. Jopp becomes even more of a threat later in the chapter when Henchard foolishly hands him the packet of letters to deliver to Lucetta. Jopp quickly discovers the nature of the poorly sealed packet, then stops for a quick drink at an inn in Mixen Lane, the poorest part of town, before heading to Farfrae's house with the package. Hardy gives you a detailed description of Mixen Lane and its inhabitants. Notice all the images of darkness, pain, and destruction. Coaxed by the others at the inn, Jopp opens the packet of letters and begins reading them. The listeners show mock horror at hearing that the proper Mrs. Farfrae has had an affair. They decide to sponsor a skimmity-ride through the town. This ancient custom is a parade to ridicule adulterers. NOTE: THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MIXEN LANE By having Jopp stop in Mixen Lane with the letters, Hardy has symbolically sunk Henchard and Lucetta's affair to the depth it may deserve. In the unforgiving hands and minds of the lowest elements in the town, the affair becomes more sordid than passionate. Like Henchard, Lucetta is concerned about her social position. It is significant that both are brought down by those who want to show that Henchard and Lucetta are no better than they. Sponsoring the skimmity-ride is a perfect way for members of the town chorus to demonstrate this. Now a new character appears on the scene. Throughout the novel, you have seen that new characters have helped introduce new twists in the plot. The unnamed character is too well dressed for Mixen Lane, but he stops for a drink anyway, even contributing a coin to help pay for the skimmity-ride. The next morning, Jopp brings the letters to Lucetta, who burns them immediately. She believes that the episode of the letters is finished and that her reputation is safe, but you should know better. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXXVII: HENCHARD'S ROYAL RECEPTION Henchard, the man of pride, has very little pride left. But he is still not able to admit his downfall as this chapter begins. He appears before the town council in the same grand clothes he wore as Mayor to ask that he be permitted to participate in a forthcoming celebration being planned for a visit by a member of the Royal Family. His clothes are now sadly tattered, as is Henchard's reputation, and he is told that he can be a spectator but not a participant. "If ye are included, why not others," Mayor Farfrae says. Henchard replies, "I have a particular reason for wanting to assist at the ceremony." Why do you think the event is so important to him? He is risking what little pride is left simply by appearing before the council. Perhaps the historical significance of the Royal visit is important to him. He still wants to be a part of Casterbridge's history. Perhaps he can't stand the idea of being a spectator rather than a participant. Being passive is not part of his character. Or perhaps he just wants to be seen again, to have a place in the public eye. "I'll welcome his Royal Highness, or nobody shall!" he declares. Wearing the clothes he wore as Mayor seems to emphasize his desire to maintain his former position in the town. Henchard makes certain he is seen at the celebration. As the Prince's carriage approaches, Henchard steps in front of it. Wearing a bright ribbon and carrying a homemade flag, Henchard attempts to shake hands with the Prince. Lucetta is aghast at the sight. Henchard has ruined her most glorious hour as the Mayor's wife. Elizabeth-Jane is terrified and incredulous. Farfrae, annoyed, pushes Henchard out of the way. Although Henchard is angry at Farfrae's treatment of him, he walks away, more defeated and bitter. The proper ladies in the crowd discuss Henchard's relation to Farfrae, much to Lucetta's annoyance. Finally, Hardy turns to the members of the town chorus for their comments. They mention how uppity Farfrae has become and what a "lady of quality" his wife is. Now they are even more determined to carry out the skimmity-ride and humiliate Lucetta. The ride is planned for that very evening. There will be an upper-class spectacle and a lower-class spectacle on the same day in Casterbridge. Hardy gives Jopp the final word in the chapter, thus sounding an ominous note. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXXVIII: HENCHARD FIGHTS FARFRAE Jopp's evil presence carries over to this chapter. He encounters Henchard and inflames Henchard's already seething case against both Farfrae and Lucetta. Henchard decides that he must confront Farfrae. In Farfrae's barn, Henchard challenges the new mayor to a wrestling match to the death. Saying that he is the stronger man, Henchard ties one hand behind his back to make the fight fair. Henchard seems to be a curious mixture of bully and fair fighter. The battle is over quickly. Henchard forces Farfrae to the edge of the loft and is about to push him to his death. He cannot do it, however. This marks the third time that Henchard has stopped himself from destroying Farfrae or Lucetta. NOTE: HENCHARD'S ANIMAL CHARACTERISTICS At different points in the novel, Henchard is compared to a series of animals--from a raging bull to a fangless lion. There is a certain animal quality about his unbridled energy. In this chapter, Henchard decides to fight Farfrae to show that he is a "real man"; however, the fight shows him to be more of an animal. In many ways, the rivalry between Henchard and Farfrae parallels the rivalry of two male animals fighting over territory and mates. Henchard was there first, but the newcomer has presented a serious and eventually successful challenge. Henchard loses and considers finding a new territory, but instead he remains and becomes domesticated. "Henchard had become in measure broken in," Hardy states earlier. The fight in the barn also parallels Henchard's earlier encounter with the bull. Farfrae wrenches Henchard's arm much as Henchard had wrenched the bull's neck. Once the fight has ended and Henchard has stopped short of killing his opponent, he hides himself shamefully in the barn "in a crouching attitude, unusual for a man...". He leaves the barn in shame, realizing that even his physical (animal) strength, upon which his pride has been based, has not been enough to help him triumph over his "enemies" or his fate. He begins walking toward the bridge of failures again. There he hears, but doesn't heed, the beginnings of the skimmity-ride. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XXXIX: THE SKIMMITY-RIDE Hardy has built up your anticipation of the skimmity-ride for several chapters. Now it finally occurs. First, like a movie director, Hardy places all the principals. He has already shown that Henchard is out of the way at the bridge of failures. Next, he has Farfrae receive an anonymous note that directs him to leave town. Finally, he places Lucetta near the window in her house where she will be sure to see the event. After all, Lucetta is the one who will probably be most affected by the ridicule of the skimmity-ride. The marchers proceed through town, banging drums and tambourines and carrying two stuffed figures--effigies of Henchard and Lucetta. Lucetta, hearing several maids describing the figures, is drawn to the window to see the parade. "It's me," she says. Her quick confession seems very similar to Henchard's when he was confronted in court by the furmity woman. Elizabeth-Jane rushes into Lucetta's room and tries to pull her away from the window, but the damage has been done. Lucetta is certain that Farfrae will see the effigies and know of her unfaithfulness. She collapses in an epileptic seizure. Since Lucetta is pregnant, the doctor fears it may prove fatal. He says that Farfrae must be sent for at once. Since epileptics usually have a history of such seizures, do you feel it a weakness in the novel that Hardy has not indicated previously that Lucetta is epileptic? Several town leaders try to stop the skimmity-ride. They insist that the town constables should find and stop the participants. Carrying out a half-hearted and unsuccessful search near Farfrae's house and in Mixen Lane, the constables soon give up. One of the most interesting points about the much discussed skimmity-ride is that you never really see it. Neither do most of the people in the town. One maid even says, "There--I shan't see it, after all!" You hear about the parade from the different maids and from Lucetta who insists "I will see it!" and "Donald will see it!" Then it seems to simply disappear. The town leaders and constables keep searching for concrete evidence of the spectacle, but they can't find any. Farfrae, for whose sake the parade has been planned, isn't even in town when it occurs. In some ways, the skimmity-ride seems to be more in Lucetta's mind than elsewhere. It surfaces all her guilt and fear. Perhaps this is why she is so affected by the procession that ridicules her past affair. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XL: LUCETTA DIES Throughout this section of the novel, Hardy has pushed Henchard from the center of action in Casterbridge to the outer edges. As the section opened (Chapter XXXI), Henchard had moved to Jopp's cottage on the poor side of town. He began drinking at the Three Mariners rather than at the King's Arms. He estranged himself further from Farfrae and Lucetta. He even brought ridicule upon himself by his behavior when the Prince visited. As if to emphasize the distance that has come between Henchard and the other characters, Hardy presents the action in this chapter through Henchard's eyes. Henchard has become an outsider, observing the action rather than playing an active role. Henchard leaves the bridge of failures and enters the town just as the skimmity-ride is ending. Looking for Elizabeth-Jane, he goes to Farfrae's house. He tells the people at Farfrae's house, who are searching for Farfrae, that the new mayor has changed his earlier plans and has gone in the opposite direction. Remember that he overheard Farfrae's plans while perched in the loft. The others don't believe him because, as Hardy notes, "He had lost his good name." Henchard decides to find Farfrae himself. When Henchard catches up with his former friend and rival, he addresses him humbly as "Mr. Farfrae." But Farfrae is suspicious. He thinks Henchard wants to trick him into an ambush and kill him. Henchard becomes desperate. Hardy uses words such as "implored" and "deprecated" to describe Henchard's behavior and point out his ineffectualness. Farfrae ignores Henchard's insistence that something is wrong at Farfrae's house. Henchard returns to town where he curses himself as being "a less scrupulous Job," a man who has lost even his own self-respect. The reference to Job, the biblical character who suffered terribly and lost everything as a test of his faith in God, shows clearly Henchard's sunken mental state. Henchard sees Elizabeth-Jane at Farfrae's house and learns that Lucetta is near death. Noticing Elizabeth-Jane's warm look toward him while they conversed, Henchard sees a "pin-point of light" for the first time in the evening's darkness. He begins to wonder hopefully if he can learn to love her as his own daughter. With that thought in mind, he returns to Jopp's cottage. There Henchard learns that a sea-captain has called on him. Who can the mystery man be? Remember, only one other sailor has appeared in the novel--Newson. Just as Henchard is thinking of finding a daughter's love in Elizabeth-Jane, will her real father return to take her away from him? Perhaps Henchard truly is a Job figure, doomed to constant suffering for his sins. Farfrae returns, but he is too late. Lucetta dies during the night. As this fourth section of the novel ends, another of Henchard's women has died and the third may be taken away from him momentarily. He is lonelier than ever. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XLI: LIES AND LONELINESS At the end of the previous chapter, Henchard was cloaked in darkness and desolation. As this chapter opens, he sits by a fire in his cottage, and his face "brightens" when he sees Elizabeth-Jane. Having reached the depths of despair, he seems to sense in Elizabeth-Jane a reason for renewed optimism. A stranger then knocks on Henchard's door. Now you know that the man in Mixen Lane and the visitor yesterday is Newson. When Henchard learns the man's identity, he looks down at the floor, like a shamed dog. He seldom looks up for the rest of their conversation. Newson has come to inquire about his daughter. Henchard tells him "doggedly" that Elizabeth-Jane is dead. Newson replies, "Then what's the use of my money to me?" There is irony in this statement, for in a sense, Newson's money triggered all of Henchard's troubles, when it was used to purchase Susan. Accepting Henchard's explanation, the sailor leaves, his shadow passing before Henchard's window, symbolically darkening the brightness that had flickered there before. Henchard is amazed by his own lying. He is also worried. He had half expected Newson to catch him in the lie and is certain the man will return to curse him and take Elizabeth-Jane away for good. He makes a half-hearted attempt to find Newson, just as he had done after selling his wife and daughter. Rationalizing, he tells himself he may have been justified in lying to Newson. He "speciously argues" that he is more of a father to the girl than Newson. NOTE: HENCHARD'S CONTINUING HUBRIS Henchard's lying to Newson and subsequent justification of his lie are further illustrations of his destructive pride or hubris. See the discussion of hubris in the "Themes" section of this study guide. He may have been severely damaged by the events of the past year, but he is still not fully repentant. Henchard is not being punished merely for selling his family; he has continually tempted fate with his excessive pride. The images of brightness at the beginning of this chapter illustrate the return of Henchard's pride and self-esteem. Hardy is setting him up for "the big fall." Watch how images of darkness and death begin to envelop him in this chapter and in the remainder of the novel. Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane have a warm conversation, but he is plagued by the thought of Newson's return. The thought plunges Henchard into a "leaden gloom." He goes for a walk, crosses a bridge, and looks into the waters below. He sees what he thinks is a body--his own body! What Henchard actually sees is the effigy that had been paraded in the skimmity-ride through town the day before. It is a curious psychological moment. Henchard, the observer in the last chapter, is now detached even from himself. Symbolically, he is dead. Henchard brings Elizabeth-Jane to see the figure. She confirms that it is his effigy. Realizing that Henchard is in a suicidal frame of mind, she decides to move in with him to protect him. Interestingly, if Henchard had not seen the effigy, he might have jumped into the water and killed himself. The skimmity-ride killed Lucetta, but one of the effigies used in the procession saved Henchard. As the chapter ends, Henchard optimistically believes that a kind fate now watches over him. "And yet it seems that even I be in Somebody's hand," he states. Henchard's false hopes reflect the theme of barrenness that Hardy's religious skepticism led him to develop in the novel. Henchard's "Somebody" isn't a forgiving God; it is a more frightening and empty presence. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XLII: A NEW ROMANCE BEGINS A period of relative calm settles over the lives of the main characters. Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane are living together as father and daughter, and Henchard is running a small seed business purchased for him by Farfrae and the town council. Farfrae has decided not to punish the perpetrators of the skimmity-ride. Because Lucetta confessed her past affair to him on her deathbed, he feels only minimal grief at her death. Farfrae's sense of propriety does not allow him to accept any impropriety in his wife. Henchard now resumes his role as the observer in the novel. A budding romance develops between Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae. This romance troubles Henchard for two reasons: he doesn't want to lose Elizabeth-Jane to anyone, and he especially can't stand the idea of his enemy winning her hand. Nevertheless, he uncharacteristically refrains from intervening. Fear of loneliness has made the once-forceful Henchard hold his jealousy in check. He wants to retain the love of his "daughter." For a fleeting moment, he contemplates revealing Elizabeth-Jane's true parentage thus causing the proper Farfrae to forsake her, but he fears the knowledge would drive her into Newson's arms instead of his. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XLIII: NEWSON RETURNS: HENCHARD LEAVES As the romance between Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane blossoms into an engagement, Henchard's self-esteem sinks lower and lower. He sees himself as a "fangless lion," a very different image from the "raging bull" he has been compared to earlier. When through his telescope he sees Newson approaching the town, Henchard knows that his relationship with Elizabeth-Jane is doomed. He returns home and learns from Elizabeth-Jane that a stranger wants to meet with her. Sadly, Henchard tells her to see the man, adding that he is going to leave Casterbridge--not because of her impending marriage but to allow the two of them (Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane) to lead separate lives. Henchard asks her to remember him always. He still has some pride left; later, he will have none. Elizabeth-Jane is reunited with Newson that evening at Farfrae's. She learns that Henchard kept her true parentage a secret and sent Newson away with a lie. Elizabeth-Jane bitterly remembers her last promise to Henchard. Then she, Newson, and Farfrae turn their thoughts to the wedding plans. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XLIV: THE WANDERER RETURNS The last two chapters of The Mayor of Casterbridge form an epilogue, much as the first two chapters served as a prologue. Henchard, once again a wandering hay-trusser, returns to Weydon-Priors. He seems to be trying to retrace his history. Hardy notes that externally there was nothing to stop Henchard from starting all over again and achieving "higher" things, but internally his life is empty. Yet his thoughts are still on Elizabeth-Jane and Casterbridge. When he learns from some passersby that Farfrae is soon to marry, he decides to return to Casterbridge for the wedding. Henchard buys a new suit and searches for a wedding present, choosing a caged gold finch. The caged bird, like Henchard himself, is imprisoned by fate. Henchard arrives at the wedding. He leaves the bird outside and enters the house. He hears music and observes dancing. It pains him to see that Elizabeth-Jane's dancing partner is Newson, who has resumed his role as father. Hardy presents a series of dark images at this point to illustrate Henchard's feelings. Finally, Elizabeth-Jane greets him, addressing him coldly and formally as "Mr. Henchard." She tells him bitterly that she can no longer love him. Henchard is too devastated with pain and self-loathing to defend himself. He leaves the house, promising never to trouble her again. Although Hardy included this chapter in his serialization, he omitted it from the first edition of the novel. He included it in later editions, however, because of popular demand. The chapter has a strange sense to it. Henchard seems like a wounded bird, making one last attempt at flight before dying. Some readers feel the chapter is useful because it emphasizes Henchard's total isolation from the community: life will continue comfortably in Casterbridge, and Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae will be happy, without Henchard. This sets the stage for Henchard's last request in the final chapter. Other readers feel that Hardy overdoes his debasement of Henchard, and that Chapter XLIV adds nothing new. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: CHAPTER XLV: HENCHARD'S WILL In the novel's final chapter, Henchard, a wanderer again, roams onto Egdon Heath where he is later followed by Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae. The Heath is a timeless place, and a man's history means very little within it. It is a fitting setting for the end of Henchard's struggles. NOTE: Egdon Heath is best known to Hardy's readers as the setting (and, in some ways, one of the leading characters) of The Return of the Native. Eustacia Vye, the main character of that novel, feels trapped by the Heath and never manages to escape its hold. Eventually, it plays a part in her death, or suicide. For Hardy, Egdon Heath--bleak and barren, large and lifeless--measures the endurance and insignificance of people. Henchard is drawn to the Heath by Elizabeth-Jane's rejection of him. Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae are drawn there by the discovery of the bird cage in which Henchard had brought his wedding present. The bird had died of starvation without uttering a sound. Just as its caged existence symbolized Henchard's feelings of imprisonment and isolation, the bird's death also symbolizes the lack of love in Henchard's life. Elizabeth-Jane is moved by the present, which she considers Henchard's repentance, and she is determined to find him again. At first unable to find Henchard, Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane are about to turn back. Then they see Abel Whittle in the distance. They follow him to a cabin where he tells them that Henchard has died moments before. They find it strange that Abel has remained with Henchard. After all, Henchard often abused Abel unmercifully when he worked for Henchard. Abel explains that he has stayed with Henchard because of the way Henchard cared for Abel's mother when she was dying. Other, more symbolic, reasons also explain his presence. For one thing, Henchard left Casterbridge as an outcast, feeling like Cain. Having Abel beside him emphasizes his link to Cain. Abel also seems a bit like the wise fool, thus linking Henchard with King Lear as well. Finally, having to depend on Abel demonstrates that the once-great Henchard has in the end sunk lower than the most common workman. His pride has been destroyed. He has been punished for his hubris. Henchard leaves a tragic will pinned to the head of his bed. He asks that he be neither mourned nor remembered--particularly by Elizabeth-Jane. He seems to be releasing her from the promise he had extracted from her when he first left Casterbridge. Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae decide to abide by the terms of the will. What does the will suggest about Henchard's view of his life? Would you judge him as harshly as he does himself? The final paragraphs of the novel are devoted to a brief presentation of Elizabeth-Jane's future life, one filled with calmness and moderation, but not necessarily happiness. There is a certain melancholy tone to the ending. The hare has lost the race, and the tortoise has won. But the scene seems devoid of the energy that Henchard represented. Hardy seems to say that in the fallen, fate-dominated world of the novel, people are meant to endure, but not to rise too high. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: GLOSSARY ADULLAM Cave in which David hid from Saul. AUSTERLITZ Battle which Napoleon won in 1805 at great cost. BALLAD SHEET Large page printed on only one side. BANDED Bound by a pledge. BE JOWNED Be damned. BELLEPHERON Blameless Greek hero shunned by the gods for killing the Chimera. BLUEBEARDY Like the mythical villain who killed a series of wives. BRICK-NOGGING Brickwork built between two wooden frames. BRUCKLE Shady or unreliable. BUTTER-FIRKINS Small wooden butter casks. CAPHARNAUM Troubled time, after a tumultuous town in which Jesus preached. CARKING Worrying. CARREFOUR Square or plaza. CASTERBRIDGE Fictitious name for Dorchester. CATHEAD Overhanging beam at the opening of a loft. CHASSEZ DECHASSEZ MOVEMENT Dance steps to the left and right. DEE Damned. DIEMENT Diamond. ETOUDERIE French for "thoughtlessness." FALL Veil. FELLOE Rim or segment of a wheel. FELO DE SE Legal term for suicide. FIELD FLAGONS Harvest jugs. FURMITY Liquid pudding made of milk, boiled wheat, eggs, sugar, and spices. GABERLUNZIE Licensed beggar in Scotland. GAWK-HAMMER Foolish. GO SNACKS WI' Be married to. HADRIAN'S SOLDIERY Members of Roman Emperor Hadrian's army who occupied Britain during A.D. 119-138. HONTISH Haughty. HORSE-DRILL Planting machine that drops seeds and fertilizer into holes. JOSEPHUS Flavius Josephus (37-93), historian of the Jews. JOTUNS Giants of Norse mythology. KEACORN Gullet or windpipe. KITS, CROUDS, HUMSTRUMS, SERPENTS Musical instruments. LAMMINGERS Cripples. LARRY Alarum or commotion. LEERY Low or depressed. LOCUS STANDI Latin term for "place to stand" or "position." MARTINMAS SUMMER Late mild weather on Martinmas, November 11. NATHAN TONES Words spoken reproachfully, in the way the prophet Nathan reproached King David for sinning with Bathsheba. PARI PASSU Latin for "simultaneously." PETTY SESSIONS Court presided over by a justice of the peace. PLIM Swell or become bloated. PORT-BREDY Fictitious name for Bridport. QUARTERS Quarter ton measures. RANDY Celebration. RANTIPOLE Rowdy. RECEIVED THE EDUCATION OF ACHILLES Had no formal education. RUMMERS Large drinking glasses. SKIMMITY-RIDE OR SKIMMINGTON Mock procession in which effigies of adulterers were paraded through a town. SNIFF AND SNAFF Small talk. SOCKED Sighed loudly. SOI DISANT French expression meaning "self-styled." SOLICITUS TIMOR Latin term for "anxious fear." SPENCER Short jacket worn by women. STEELYARDS Balance used for weighing grain. STEEPED Conceited or haughty. STUNPOLL Blockhead. SWINGLES Cudgels used by poachers. SWIPES Watered-down beer. TAILING Light or inferior grain that is removed in processing. THIMBLE-RIGGERS Con artists. TOAD-BAGS Bags with live toads inside, worn by superstitious people to change their moods. TOPPERED Humiliated. TURMIT-HEAD Turnip-head or fool. TWANKING Whining or complaining. VARDEN Farthing. VICTORINE Fur neckpiece. WAMBLING Stumbling or tottering. WEYDON-PRIORS Fictitious name for Wayhill in Hampshire. WIMBLE Instrument for twisting bands around hay. WITHY Made of willow branches. YARDS OF CLAY Long tobacco pipes. ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: ON HARDY'S PURPOSE Who, comparing the ways of Henchard and Farfrae, will easily choose between them? Certainly not Hardy. He is too canny, too reflective for an unambiguous stand, and his first loyalty is neither to Henchard nor Farfrae but the larger community of Wessex. Hardy's feelings may go out to Henchard but his mind is partly with Farfrae. He knows that in important respects the Scotsman will help bring a better life to Casterbridge, even if a life less vivid and integral. Yet he also recognizes that the narrowing of opportunity for men like Henchard represents a loss in social strength. In his own intuitive and "poetic" way Hardy works toward an attitude of mature complexity, registering gains and losses, transcending the fixed positions of "progress" and "tradition." -Irving Howe, Thomas Hardy, 1967 ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: ON HENCHARD Yet although this relentless decline of Henchard's is (as we take its meaning) what unifies the book, Henchard still stands above the others in psychic virtue. In the conventional sense, he is both less moral than them and more so. He is violent and a liar and in one sense intensely selfish, but his generosity is true magnanimity, and he has reserves of affection and humility that they quite lack. The essential is something else though: that his whole nature, good or bad, is centered upon a deep source of vital energy.... Farfrae prospers through skill which the new mode of life has impersonally taught him; Henchard is able to struggle on, though defeated, because not of what he has learnt but of what he is. He blocks out something like the full contour of the human being. -John Holloway, The Charted Mirror: Literary and Critical Essays, 1960 ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: ON PLOT TECHNIQUES The reader's breath is almost taken away by the succession of surprising turns of the kind so much prized in a certain kind of romance, and now become the staple of the movies. Everything is so disposed that the story shall never lag, that never shall there be a failure of good things for the lover of movement and novelty.... The specialty of The Mayor of Casterbridge, and what makes its close affinity to the movie, is the large provision of scenes of violent and surprising action making their appeal directly to the sense of sight.... The device of the overheard conversation is also a favorite one in the movies, it gives such scope for that study of facial expression which is so important a feature of movie art. Consider, for example, the picture that Henchard makes as he listens to the love-making of Farfrae and Lucetta, or later to that of Farfrae and Elizabeth... -Joseph Warren Beach, The Technique of Thomas Hardy, 1922 ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: ON THEME Founding itself upon an ancient psychology, The Mayor of Casterbridge celebrates, first of all, the subordination of the passions that link man with nature to the reason that unites him with God. It is Henchard's tragedy that, like Lear and Othello, he reverses and destroys this order. For when he sells his wife to a sailor for five guineas in violation of the profoundest moral tact, it is at a moment when, under the spell of the furmity-woman, he has allowed the passions to distort and deform the reason. Indeed, the surrender to passion responsible for the original crime will, in spite of his heroic resolution to give up drinking for [twenty-one] years, repeat itself in those sudden angers and indignations that alienate Farfrae, Elizabeth, and Lucetta, among others, and eventually deprive him of the ordinary consolations of love and friendship. The precarious balance between reason and passion will be reestablished only at the very end when, thoroughly scourged and chastised, all passion spent, Henchard is displaced by the Farfraes and Elizabeths in whose persons the claims of reason are piously acknowledged. -John Paterson, "The Mayor of Casterbridge as Tragedy," 1959 In James K. Robinson, The Mayor of Casterbridge, 1977 ^^^^^^^^^^THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE: ON HARDY'S VIEW OF THE PAST Because he could always call up so clearly the dark as well as the more cheerful aspects of his early experience, Hardy in his mature years was rarely tempted to indulge in indiscriminate nostalgia for the past. He was always deeply conscious, however, of the process of change itself and of the many relics, good and bad, of earlier days and ways which were constantly being swept away.... Hardy, in fact, was born just in time to catch a last glimpse of that English rural life which, especially in so conservative a county, had existed largely undisturbed from medieval times until the onset of the new forces--population expansion, urbanization, railways, cheap printing, cheap food imports, enclosures, agricultural mechanization and depression, pressures and opportunities for migration and emigration--which so swiftly and radically impinged upon it in the middle of the nineteenth century. -Michael Millgate, Thomas Hardy: A Biography, 1982 THE END