Michael Henchard's Confrontation Of Moral Beliefs Book Title: The Mayor Of Casterbridge Auther: Thomas Hardy

929 words - 4 pages

Michael Henchard's Confrontation of Moral BeliefsIn the novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge, many circumstances and external forces compel Michael Henchard to confront his moral beliefs.Firstly, unexpected action, idea and notion under specific condition can confront one's moral beliefs. The novel opens with Henchard, his wife and baby daughter arriving at Weydon-Priors. Mr. Henchard is a hay-trusser who hopes to find work there. However, he is depressed to learn from a local that no jobs are available. Henchard goes to a refreshment tent and signals the "furmity woman" to lace his drink with rum. After drinking four basins, Henchard becomes overbearing, argumentative, and quarrelsome. He vents his bitterness at being unemployed on his marriage. He begins to talk of the ruin of his life by getting married early. Impulsively, he offers to sell his wife for five guineas. A sailor named Newson buys her and her daughter, Elizabeth-Jane. Then, Henchard is fallen asleep due to the liquor. In this incident, the circumstances and external forces compel Henchard to confront his moral beliefs. Since he was drunk and upset due to his unemployed when he sold his wife and daughter, we can assume that his action does not represent his moral beliefs. In addition, from Henchard's action and vow after he wakes from a drunken stupor, we can reason that he believes the sale of his wife is immoral. In remorse for his actions, Henchard vows not to drink for twenty-one years. Also, he searches long and hard for his wife and child. These facts shows that deep in his soul, he is regretful and full of guilt. Henchard's frustration and the effects of liquor compel Henchard to confront his moral beliefs. In this incident, the circumstances and external forces are surprisingly strong that they drive his action can no longer be guarded by his moral beliefs; instead, his action completely betray his mind and is controlled by the external forces.Next, due to forced circumstances, a conflict between one's action and moral beliefs may occur. The incident of the sale of "grown wheat" can be used to demonstrate this viewpoint. Henchard has sold "grown wheat," grain that has sprouted before harvest, to the millers and bakers. When a frustrated citizen someone calls out to the mayor to explain the current bread crisis, Henchard assures the crowd that the damaged wheat was not his fault and that he has hired a manager to ensure that the same situation does not happen again. "If anybody will tell me how to turn grown wheat into wholesome wheat," he tells the crowd, "I'll take it back with pleasure. But it can't be done." His action shows the reader that he is repentant about the "grown wheat". His moral beliefs are to benefit the citizen of Casterbridge; however, due to the...

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