The Life And Death Of The Mayor Of Casterbridge: A Story Of A Man Of Character

1318 words - 5 pages

George Meredith had once written that “In tragic life God wot (knows)/ No villain need be! Passions spin the plot: / We are betrayed by what is false within.” What he implied was that it is not so much circumstances but rather the character of the protagonist which often lets them down and allows emotion to get the upper hand over rational thought. Meredith’s lines can very much be applied to the protagonist of Thomas Hardy’s novel which is popularly referred to as The Mayor of Casterbridge -Michael Henchard who has all the elements of a traditional tragic hero. In Hardy’s novel - The Mayor of Casterbridge, Henchard is undoubtedly the tragic hero whose undoing can be owed to his own character flaw – his impulsiveness and rash choler; however his the way his life is reduced to rubble can also be credited to circumstances as well as the malicious forces of Nature and Fate.
As mentioned Henchard is the tragic hero of the novel and his character has both positive and negative aspects which are brought out through various incidents in the novel. Henchard’s character is very significant and this point is mentioned in the title of the book itself wherein Hardy emphasises that his novel a ‘Story of a man of Character’. Throughout the novel, his volatile temper forces him into ruthless competition with Farfrae that soon strips him of his pride, reputation and property, while his insecurities lead him to deceive the one person he began to love-Elizabeth-Jane. His impulsiveness and temper is evident on the three occasions: initially when he sells off his wife to Newson, then in his unsympathetic behaviour towards Whittle who oversleeps and finally when he dismisses Jopp. Yet Hardy insists that Henchard is a worthy man and does have some commendable traits as well. His worth which makes him a “Man of Character” lies in his determination to suffer, endure pain and undo his wrong doings of the past. He shoulders the burdens of his mistakes as he sells his family in a drunken bravado, mismanages his business and as he bears the storm of an unlucky fate. We see his strong will-power when he takes the oath not to touch alcohol for twenty-one years after he loses his family. Another instance of his determination is seen when he wants to mend the mistakes in his life and thus remarries Susan and takes responsibility of Elizabeth-Jane. He shows great credibility in his sense of responsibility not only to Susan and Elizabeth-Jane, but also towards Lucetta. In a world that seems to be guided by sinister intelligence that is bent upon punishing humans, there can be no characteristic as honourable as Henchard’s ‘defiant endurance’.
A comparison can be made between the characters of Henchard and taht of Farfrae-who serves as a foil to Henchard. He is calculating, moderate, shrewd and sensible and he easily adapts to new, scientific farming methods. Although he sings with great pathos which endears him to the hearts of the simple townsfolk, there appears to be a...

Find Another Essay On The Life and Death of the Mayor of Casterbridge: A Story of a Man of Character

The Mayor of Casterbridge Essay

2206 words - 9 pages The Picture of Dorian Gray is a short novel by Oscar Wilde originally published in 1890. The story begins at the home of Basil Hallward and opens with a conversation between him and Lord Henry Wotton. Lord Henry is fervently admiring Basil’s latest portrait of a young, beautiful man, Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray is the main protagonist in the story. He is described as having a “simple and beautiful nature”, and he remains this way until he is

Willy Loman, a Man With A Dream. Character in "Death of a Salesman" by Miller

1057 words - 4 pages greatest salesmanever. Determined to make money, Willy became uncontrollableand somewhat insane. Through his dialogue and actions,Willy Loman portrays a character of insecurity, persistence,and unknown identity.From the very beginning of his life, Willy Lomanexperienced problems with his popularity and personality.His last name is a pun on a 'low man.' He is at the bottomof the business world as an unsuccessful salesman. Inaddition, his theories

Examine responses of the main character(s) to evil and/or evil impulses: O'Connor's "A Good man is Hard to find", and "The Cask of Amontillado". What accounts for the responses to evil in each story?

1269 words - 5 pages EVILThe Grandmother in Flannery O'Connor's "A Goodman is Hard to Find", fears death. She hopes to convince the Misfit to spare her by begging and telling him that he is a good man and should find Jesus. While the Misfit, who is a convicted murderer, seems to regret murdering the grandmother. In Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado", Fortunato the fool also fears his impending death at the hand of the evil Montresor who had borne "The

The mayor of casterbridge 2

990 words - 4 pages winter for me. Hechard's life is in a rather bad point but things start looking up when he sells Susan, it is at this point that he moves into spring. We are told little of what happens between Susan's sale and when she comes looking for him but I would say that during this period Henchard passes through spring as he gives up liquor and moves into summer when he becomes mayor. When we next see Henchard he is on the brink of autumn, his progression

The Mayor of Casterbridge by T

626 words - 3 pages could have chosen" (179). Henchard's own bitterness toward Farfrae for stealing Lucetta and initially causing Henchard to lose his business leads to Henchard challenging Farfrae in a dual to the death. Henchard wins the match, but spares Farfrae's life. This unruly behavior by Henchard and Jopp lead to both Jopp's unemployment and Henchard losing every aspect of his life which remains important. Undeniably, the deceitfulness of man results in

Henchard's Personality in The Mayor of Casterbridge

2487 words - 10 pages Henchard's Personality in The Mayor of Casterbridge Introduction Michael Henchard begins the novel by entering Casterbridge 'with the walk of a skilled countryman'. He starts his life at badly, as he sells his wife to a young gentle sailor called Newson. His impression changes, as he becomes a wealthy corn merchant and the Mayor of Casterbridge. 25 years later, he ends up with his life in tatters, and eventually

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

635 words - 3 pages "The Mayor of Casterbridge" In The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, a person’s future lies in the hands of his or her past actions. The intelligent or ignorant decision that they make places an immediate or long-term effect on the rest of person’s life. Michael Henchard, whose interactions with the people of Casterbridge lead to his demise, is only one of the people who decide their own destiny through their actions. The

The Mayor of Casterbridge: Social Standards

863 words - 3 pages The Mayor of Casterbridge:  Social Standards         What kind of person auctions off their wife and baby? In The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy explores the personality of a man, Michael Henchard, who hands his family off to a stranger, Richard Newsom, for a mere five guineas. Oblivious to the consequences of such an act, Michael Henchard, intoxicated, lets go of his wife, Susan, and

Essay on Fate and Chance in The Mayor of Casterbridge

1621 words - 6 pages explores his ideas about chance and fate and ultimately comes up with the conviction that each man controls himself. It can be surmised that this was a frightening thought for Hardy since much of his work deals with his disillusionment over religion. Whether Hardy wanted to enlighten the multitudes with his writing, or if he just wanted them to see his suffering and pity him is a question only he can answer. Works Cited: Hardy, Thomas. The Mayor of Casterbridge. Ed. Phillip Mallett. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001.

The Role of Festival in The Mayor of Casterbridge

1398 words - 6 pages achieves her reality as a ‘living’ character in the imaginary struggles in which she (and we) becomes involved. Thus the ‘tragic’ consequences of Grace Melbury becoming a ‘lady’ bear no resemblance to the ‘comic’ consequences of Elthelberta Chickerel becoming Lady Mountclere. EXCLUSION AND REPRESSION; THE CHORIC RUMINATION OF HARDY’S CHARMING PUPPETS With The Mayor of Casterbridge, we arrive at a full statement of Hardy’s universe

An Analysis of Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge

968 words - 4 pages An Analysis of The Mayor of Casterbridge      The plot of The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy, can often be confusing and difficult to follow. The pages of this novel are filled with sex, scandal, and alcohol, but it provides for a very interesting and unique story. It all begins one day in the large Wessex village of Weydon-Priors. Michael Henchard, a young hay-trusser looking for work, enters the village with

Similar Essays

Character And Fate In "The Mayor Of Casterbridge" By Thomas Hardy.

936 words - 4 pages Character and FateIn the book "The Mayor of Casterbridge" written by Thomas Hardy, the character Michael Henchard experiences a dramatic rise to grace and even more dramatic fall from it. He tries to demonstrate how fateful coincidences, character, and temperament act together in life to determine the outcome of a person's life.Fate plays a very important part in "The Mayor of Casterbridge". Thomas Hardy uses the plot of the novel relies on

Clandestine Meetings And Falls From Grace. The Connections Of Character And Setting In The Mayor Of Casterbridge By Thomas Hardy

683 words - 3 pages Many people often find that they are deeply connected to a certain place or town. Such is the case in the novel the Mayor of Casterbridge written by Thomas Hardy. In Hardy's novel, character and setting are two conditions that are deeply tied. The main character in the novel is Michael Henchard. His personality is deeply tied to the Ring amphitheater in the town of Casterbridge. He uses it as a meeting place, and a place to hold conversations

The Mayor Of Casterbridge And Essay

1206 words - 5 pages The Return of the Native and The Mayor of Casterbridge both consist of plot twists, coincidences, and a series of minor and major climaxes. However, the time involved in the novels is very different. The Return of the Native may at first seem long because it contains many plot twists, but is it in fact very compact. The whole story takes place in only about a year. In contrast, The Mayor of Casterbridge takes place over a span of twenty years

The Mayor Of Casterbridge Essay

1977 words - 8 pages finding his family. Not telling the whole story to the people he inquired "prevented Michael Henchard from following up the investigation with the loud hue and cry such a pursuit demanded to render it effectual."Upon discovering that "persons answering somewhat to his description had emigrated a little time before", he decided to stop searching and just give up on finding them. Again, this makes it seem that Henchard doesn't actually care that much about his wife and daughter and probably doesn't regret selling them a great deal.The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) - Thomas Hardy