Elizabeth Jane Newson, later Elizabeth Jane Henchard, is naturally pretty but is never considered beautiful because of her conservative dress and attitude. The narrator says that young men do not obsess over her or fall in love with her because she isn’t ostentatious. Elizabeth Jane doesn’t wear the fashionable clothes and isn’t flirtatious. Instead she is reticent and much too serious for the guys in the novel. Elizabeth Jane tries to be extravagant at one point in the story, but she hates the extra attention and becomes even more self conscious. Afterwards, she returns to her “inner chamber of ideas” that keeps her faded into the landscape unnoticed. This idea of ...view middle of the document...
Her passionate personality pushes other passionate characters such as Henchard over the edge into near insanity and simply hurts the conservative characters like Elizabeth Jane and Farfrae with her scandals.
Henchard and Macbeth are almost the same character. Henchard is described as a fine man in the opening of The Mayor of Casterbridge. Soon after though, Henchard commits a sin that sticks with him until the end of the novel; he makes the mistake of selling his wife and daughter while drunk. This mistake causes him to vow to abstain from alcohol for 21 years and turn his life around. Henchard becomes the Mayor of Casterbridge and is at the peak of his life. Once he reaches this peak though, his sin comes back to haunt him. The sin pushes him into a downward spiral until finally he dies as the antagonist and with no nobility.
Similarly, Macbeth begins as a fine Scottish general in the opening of Macbeth. Soon though, Macbeth, like Henchard, commits a sin that sticks with him until the end of the play; he kills Duncan. After killing Duncan, Macbeth becomes king and reaches the peak of his life. At this peak though, the guilt and other repercussions from killing Duncan destroy his character. Macbeth kills Macduff’s family and Banquo in hopes to cover up his sin. This is ineffective and eventually, like Henchard, Macbeth dies a pitiful death as his own antagonist.
Michael Henchard’s manifestation of archetypal heroic behavior in The Mayor of Casterbridge is obvious, but the one tragic flaw that dictates his entire life is his pride. After Henchard’s impulsiveness leads him to sell his wife and daughter, his pride controls every decision he makes. This great pride causes Henchard to remarry Susan even though he is engaged to Lucetta, to hide the truth from Elizabeth Jane about her past, and to hate Farfrae for his success and virtue.
Henchard is a man of extremes; he is impulsive, temperamental, and prideful, but he can also easily forgive. He shifts between antagonist and protagonist, even though he is the main character. He causes himself to falter and provides, or in someway causes, every conflict encountered in the novel. No matter how large the conflict is though, Henchard bears it. Henchard even comes to the point where literally everyone dislikes him and his name is worthless, but he never relinquishes his talent of endurance. He exiles himself, and finally on his death bed, he wills that no one remember him. This is what he thinks he deserves, and ironically, it is at this point that Henchard gains his worth back. He pushes away any pity that could possibly comfort him, and he bears the full weight of his life. It is this resilience that elevates him to the level of a hero—a man whose name deserves to be remembered.
The Mayor of Casterbridge presents a theme of the consequences of character. Good character is rewarded, and bad character is punished whether it be by fate or by other people....