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An Analysis Of "The Major Of Casterbridge" By Thomas Hardy

984 words - 4 pages

The plot of The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy, can often be confusingand difficult to follow. The pages of this novel are filled with sex, scandal, and alcohol, butit provides for a very interesting and unique story. It all begins one day in the large Wessexvillage of Weydon-Priors. Michael Henchard, a young hay-trusser looking for work, entersthe village with his wife and infant daughter. What follows next, is certainly a little out ofthe ordinary, and this book provides and interesting plot, that is sure to brighten up anyboring day.Michael Henchard, looking for something to drink, enters into a tent where an oldwoman 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 trapped by hismarriage and under the influence, Henchard threatens to auction his family. The auctionbegins as a kind of cruel joke, but Susan Henchard in anger retaliates by leaving with asailor who makes the highest bid. Henchard regrets his decision the next day, but he isunable to find his family.Exactly eighteen years pass. Susan and her daughter Elizabeth-Jane come back tothe fair, seeking news about Henchard. The sailor has been lost at sea, and Susan isreturning to her 'rightful' husband. At the infamous furmity tent, they learn Henchard hasmoved 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 asSusan and Elizabeth-Jane. Henchard takes an instant liking to the total stranger andconvinces Farfrae to stay on in Casterbridge as his right-hand man. Henchard even tellsFarfrae the two greatest secrets of his life: the sale of his wife and the affair he has had witha Jersey woman, Lucetta. Henchard is confused as to how to make good on his bad acts.Henchard remarries Susan, who dies soon afterward, leaving behind a letter to beopened on Elizabeth-Jane's wedding day. Henchard reads the letter and learns that his realdaughter died in infancy and that the present Elizabeth-Jane is actually Susan and the sailor'sdaughter. Henchard also grows jealous of Farfrae's rising influence in both Henchard'sbusiness and in Casterbridge. The two men quarrel and Henchard fires Farfrae, who thensets up a successful competing grain business. Henchard is rapidly going bankrupt, afterseveral bad business deals.Soon after Susan's death, Lucetta Templeman, Henchard's former lover, comes toCasterbridge to marry Henchard. In order to provide Henchard with a respectable reasonfor visiting her, Lucetta suggests that Elizabeth-Jane move in with her. Henchard tries toforce Lucetta to marry him, but she is unwilling. She has fallen in love with Farfrae andsoon marries him. Henchard's business and love life are failing; his...

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