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The Mayor Of Casterbridge Essay

1977 words - 8 pages

How does Thomas Hardy create negative feelings in the reader towards the character of Michael Henchard in the first two chapters of his novel?Hardy uses many ways in the first two chapters to make the character of Michael Henchard appear negative and put the audience off him. The first example of this would be describing Henchard as "stern in aspect". This immediately creates a negative first impression. Next, the "perfect silence that preserved" is described in a way that suggests it is Henchard who has absolutely no desire to talk to his wife. This makes the readers think Henchard is a bad husband and ignores his wife. Their relationship is noted as having "the atmosphere of stale familiarity".Arriving in Weydon Priors, Henchard finds out that there is not available work there and also no accommodation available for him and his family. This suggests that Henchard is not able to take care of his family properly and makes prospects look bleak for them. The way he talks to the turnip-hoer makes him seem slightly condescending and rude; "phlegmatically" and "superciliousness".As they arrive at the fair, Hardy makes it clear that Henchard has some sort a drinking problem. Instead of choosing the furmity tent where he can feed himself and his family, he "mentally weighed the two inscriptions and inclined to the former tent" which sold "Good Homebrew Beer, Ale and Cyder". This also makes him seem selfish and uncaring of his wife and young child's needs as he would rather get drunk than feed them. Even after his wife, Susan, convinces him to go to the furmity tent, he gets alcohol one way or another. When he notices that the old woman laces the furmity in rum "he winked to her" and "slyly sent back money in payment". This makes him seem sneaky, and a "perverse character". "His wife observed the proceeding with much uneasiness" showing that she is unhappy with his drinking and that perhaps he does it quite often.The alcohol has a bad effect on Henchard, making him "argumentative", "overbearing" and "even brilliantly quarrelsome". He turns the conversation to"the ruin of good men by bad wives", and how marrying his wife has ruined his life and how he no longer wants her. "The frustration of many a promising youths high aims and hopes by an early imprudent marriage". His wife seemed "accustomed to these remarks" showing that Henchard has said such things before. This definitely shows that Henchard is a bad husband and the audience will not be liking him at all by this point.He feels wives should be treated like animals and that men should be able to sell them off once they are bored of them, "get rid of 'em as these gipsy fellows do their old horses". Female readers would be very offended by this. When somebody tries to praise Susan, Michael makes a sarcastic comment regarding her appearance - "this gem o' creation". By openly insulting his wife and publically humiliating her, he is definitely seen as a villain and the readers will sympathise with Susan...

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