Free Book Report on The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
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 his wife and infant daughter. What follows next, is certainly a little out of
the ordinary, and this book provides and interesting plot, that is sure to brighten up any
Michael Henchard, looking for something to drink, enters into a tent where an old
woman 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 his
marriage and under the influence, Henchard threatens to auction his family. The auction
begins as a kind of cruel joke, but Susan Henchard in anger retaliates by leaving with a
sailor who makes the highest bid. Henchard regrets his decision the next day, but he is
unable to find his family.
Exactly eighteen years pass. Susan and her daughter Elizabeth-Jane come back to
the fair, seeking news about Henchard. The sailor has been lost at sea, and Susan is
returning to her "rightful" husband. At the infamous furmity tent, they learn Henchard has
moved 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 as
Susan and Elizabeth-Jane. Henchard takes an instant liking to the total stranger and
convinces Farfrae to stay on in Casterbridge as his right-hand man. Henchard even tells
Farfrae the two greatest secrets of his life: the sale of his wife and the affair he has had with
a 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 be
opened on Elizabeth-Jane's wedding day. Henchard reads the letter and learns that his real
daughter died in infancy and that the present Elizabeth-Jane is actually Susan and the sailor's
daughter. Henchard also grows jealous of Farfrae's rising influence in both Henchard's
business and in Casterbridge. The two men quarrel and Henchard fires Farfrae, who then
sets up a successful competing grain business. Henchard is rapidly going bankrupt, after
several bad business deals.
Soon after Susan's death, Lucetta Templeman, Henchard's former lover, comes to
Casterbridge to marry Henchard. In order to provide Henchard with a respectable reason
for visiting her, Lucetta suggests that Elizabeth-Jane move in with her. Henchard tries to
force Lucetta to marry him, but she is unwilling. She has fallen in love with Farfrae and
soon marries him. Henchard's business and love life are failing; his social position in
Casterbridge is also eroding. The final blow comes when the woman who ran the furmity
tent in Weydon-Priors is arrested in Casterbridge. When she spitefully reveals Henchard's
infamous auctioning of his wife and child, Henchard surprisingly admits his guilt. The news,
which is harmful to Henchard's reputation, rapidly travels through the town. Henchard is
soon bankrupt and forced by his poverty to become Farfrae's employee. He moves to the
poorest section of town.
Farfrae and Lucetta buy Henchard's old house and furniture. The Scotsman then
completes his embarrassment of Henchard by becoming mayor of Casterbridge. Later,
Henchard challenges Farfrae to a fight to the death. Henchard is on the verge of winning
when he comes to his senses and gives up. As the mayor's wife, Lucetta becomes the stylish
and important woman she has longed to be. But she fears her secret affair with Henchard, if
revealed, might destroy her marriage to Farfrae. She begs Henchard to return the damning
letters she had written him years before. Henchard finds the letters in his old house and
reads some of them to Farfrae. He intends to reveal their author as well but relents at the
last minute. Later, he asks Jopp, a former employee, to deliver the letters to Lucetta.
Henchard doesn't realize Jopp hates both him and Lucetta. Jopp shares the letters with some
of the lowlife of the town. Lucetta sees herself paraded in mimicry, and the shock kills her.
Henchard reconciles with Elizabeth-Jane, who continues to believe Henchard is her
father. He sees his final chance for happiness crumbling, however, when Elizabeth-Jane's
real father, the sailor Newson, comes to Casterbridge to find his daughter. Henchard lies to
the sailor, telling him Elizabeth-Jane died soon after her mother's death. Newson leaves, but
Henchard worries that the sailor might return to reclaim Elizabeth-Jane. During the
following year, Henchard's life becomes fairly settled. He lives with Elizabeth-Jane and runs
a small seed store. Farfrae begins flirting with Elizabeth-Jane, and the two plan to marry.
Then the sailor returns, and Henchard flees Casterbridge.
Henchard appears at Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae's wedding to deliver a present.
Elizabeth-Jane spurns him, and Henchard sees that Newson has taken over as father of the
bride--a role Henchard can never play. He leaves Casterbridge broken-hearted. A few days
later, Elizabeth-Jane discovers Henchard's present, a bird in a cage. The unattended bird has
died of starvation. Touched, she and Farfrae go in search of Henchard. Too late, they learn
he has just died in the hovel where he had been living with the humblest of his former
employees. The young couple read Henchard's pitiful will, in which Henchard asks that no
one remember him.
As one can see, to often scandal can end in tragedy, as in the case of poor Michael
Henchard. He lived a risky life, and paid for his mistakes in the end. The Mayor of
Casterbridge proves to be an interesting novel, that provides everything modern day critics
hope to keep out of the hands of children. The book proved to be at times, quite exegesis,
but the plot is presented well, and the settings described beautifully. Thomas Hardy creates
a masterpiece in describing the rise and fall of one Michael Henchard.
|1. "The Ruined Maid? By Thomas Hardy
We always look up to people who seem to have ?perfect life.? In my opinion, Thomas Hardy, with ?The Ruined Maid,? tries to emphasize that we should not judge one?s feelings by his or her appearance
2. A Doll's House And Tess Of The D'Urbevilles
During the late nineteenth century, women were beginning to break out from the usual molds. Two authors from that time period wrote two separate but very similar pieces of literature. Henrik Ibsen
3. Comparison Essay Of A Tale Of Two Cities And Tess Of The D'Urbervilles
There were two great writers who both expresses their talent as they wrote their books. Charles Dickens who wrote A Tale of Two Cities is similarly compared to Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervill
4. The Mayor Of Casterbridge
“The business of the poet and novelist is to show the sorriness underlying the grandest things, and the grandeur underlying the sorriest.” Thomas Hardy said this upon completion of the no
5. Discuss Hardys Ability To Crea
With close reference to two or three moments in the text, discuss Hardy's ability to create mood, atmosphere and a sense of place. Throughout "The return of the native", Thomas Hardy is very successf
6. In Poems "The Man He Killed", "Reconciliation", And "Dreamers", The Authors Show That Man Kills Because He Must
In Poems "The Man He Killed", "Reconciliation", and "Dreamers", the Authors Show That Man Kills Because He Must In the chosen poems, Thomas Hardy, Walt Whitman, and Sigfried Sassoon each have a commo
7. Return Of The Native 2
In Thomas Hardy’s poem “Her Dilemma,” it relates to book one of the novel Return of the Native in the concept of marriage and distrust of feelings. In both the poem and the novel,
8. Summary Of Tess Of The D'Urbervilles
Thomas Hardy's Tess Of The D'Urbervilles is a novel in which his protagonist and other characters are confronted by an almost endless array of moral and socially acceptable choices. Thomas Hardy mak
9. The Return Of The Native: A Relationship Destined For Destruction
In Hardy?s ?The Return of the Native?, Mrs. Yeobright and Clym Yeobright share a relationship filled with destruction and havoc. Hardy presents Clym and Mrs. Yeobright as two very similar characters
10. Thomas Hardy
, written by Trevor Johnson, is the detailed journey through the life of one of England?s greatest writers. This biography describes some of the major details of his life such as his family, his edu
11. The Theme Of Nature In Tess Of The D'Urbervilles
Nature is an important theme employed in many novels, especially throughout Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Hardy, however, skillfully uses nature specifically to express Tess's emotions. He is able t
12. In What Way Is Lizzy Newberry A Highly Unusual Woman For Her Time?
? Hardy suggests that Lizzy Newberry is a highly unusual young woman for her time in many different ways.Here are lots of examples and extracts proving this point. Right from the beginning of the sto
13. Tragedy Of Othello
In tragedy the reader often sympathizes and empathizes with the protagonist who attains "wisdom through suffering." Tess Durbeyfield, in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Othello, in Willi
14. Fate, Mayor Of Casterbridge
Many believe that a human's personality determines their place in life. In the Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy explores the role of character in determining fate. He uses a character's personalit
15. Man For All Seasons 2
Sir Thomas More: Is he the morally and legally person that we think he is? Sir Thomas More has been in the news a great deal recently. I’m sure that most of you know that he had been convicte
16. A Link Between Anxiety And The Performance Of Athletes
Is there ? Previous research in the field has suggested that the majority of the consultations conducted by sport psychologists be related to anxiety (Humara 1999). This is a large part of the ath
17. The Return Of The Native: The Opening Chapter
The entire opening chapter of The Return of the Native is devoted to a lengthy description of Egdon Heath, the setting of the novel. The heath must be significant in terms of the themes and the cont
18. Tess - Fatalism
If written today, Tess of the d'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy may have been called Just Call Me Job or Tess: Victim of Fate. Throughout this often bleak novel, the reader is forced by Tess's circumstan
19. Jude The Obscure
In Hardy's , Hardy shows his views on religion and commitment to the Church which were said to have declined in the latter years of his life. (Ingham, xxvii) Throughout the book Hardy displays his fe
20. Summary Of Paine's Common Sense
In the pamphlet Command Sense, by Thomas Paine, the main concern is pointed out very clearly as to why Americans debate for long hours and write volumes on the subject of the struggle between Englan