Thomas Hardy: The Mayor of Casterbridge
Thomas Hardy, one of England’s best-known and greatest writers, was born in Dorset, in the south of England, in 1840. His father was a builder and his family did not have much money, so Hardy left school when he was sixteen and began work as an architect’s assistant. He worked as an architect for fifteen years, and won prizes for his work. He started writing poetry and novels when he was in his twenties. In the same time he fell in love with a woman called Emma Gifford.
But they were experiencing a lot of problems with their marriage and were not very happy together. His last novel, Jude the Obscure (1985), was an angry attack on marriage, which further damaged his relationship with Emma. Although some critics thought the book was a great work of literature, many others complained that it was too sad and shocking. Hardy was so upset by the reaction to the novel that he decided to stop writing novels completely. He began a view thirty-year career as the twentieth century’s first important English poet.
In 1905, Hardy began a relationship with his secretary, Florence Dug dale. Soon afterwards, he and Emma separated. After Emma’s death in 1913, Hardy wrote some of his greatest love poetry, which upset Florence Dug dale. However, she married him in 1914. When Hardy died in 1928, his heart was buried in Emma’s grave.
- Desperate Remedies (1871)
- Under the Greenwood Tree (1872)
- Far from the Madding Crowd (1874)
- The Return of the Native (1878)
- The Mayor of Caster bridge
owas the Hardies tenth novel
oit marked the beginning of the most productive period in his
twenty-five-year career as a novelist
- The Woodlanders (1887)
- Tess of the d´Urbervilles (1891)
- Jude the Obscure (1895)
T h e M a y o r o f C a s t e r b r i d g e
It was the first of the novels that were set in the town of Dorchester, which he renamed ´Castenbridge´.
- young penniless, homeless hay-cutter who sold his wife for five guineas
- eighteen years later, he has become a respected member of Casterbridge society, owns the biggest wheat and corn business in the area, but people claimed because of worst quality of bread they have ever eaten
- in his heart he is not happy man, he feel ashamed of his past actions and also worried about discovery his secret
- keep a promise not touch alcohol twenty years
- two year before appearance of his wife: while he was away on business on the island of Jersey, when he became ill, one woman (Lucetta) looked after him. Unfortunately, the people on the island misunderstood their situation and believed that they were lovers. They treated her badly after he left. She was from a good family, but her life was ruined because of him. He felt guilty about that and few months ago he wrote and asked her to marry him
- sensitive, has not nothing to be happy, maybe only two periods of his life was carefree and lovely (when he again marry with Susan, when Elizabeth-Jane care of him and help him to be successful again); but fill with hate, meanness and doubt
- Michael’s wife, was sold, marry with Richard Newson, sensitive, abased, warm-hearted, modest, died after illness
- Susan’s and Richard’s daughter, with sensitive soul, warm-hearted, modest, she love Donald (at the end of story she was his wife) and also stepfather Michael
- when her mother married with Michael, she did not allow herself to become too excited by her new wealth and comfort
- she spent her long, lonely hours reading books and educating herself
- respectable, educated, handsome Scotsman who come to show some inventions that could be useful to the Michael’s business, he become Michael’s corn manager
- falled in love with Lucetta, be unaware that she is that woman from Michael’s past
- pretty woman, fall in love with Donald, but still think about Michael
- died after illness, maybe psychical breakdown
- sailor who bought Susan
Location: in 1820s in the Weydon-Priors; in the Casterbridge in 1838 – 1840
The main idea:
There is no great difference between a penniless wanderer and a mayor. The strangest things can happen to anyone, and there is no reason for us to be proud of our wealth or ashamed of our poverty. There is enough beauty and pleasure in the world for everyone, even in the smallest things, if we know where to look. Happiness need not be just an occasional moment of sunlight in a long, dark life of pain.
A young man and woman with baby in her arms were walking along a dusty country road. Although they were obviously husband and wife – Michael and Susan Henchard, they paid no attention to each other. They approached village of Weydon-Priors. They looked for work. In one tent they ate country soup with rum. By the time Michael finished his fourth bowl, he was very drunk, and was complaining in a loud voice about the stupidity of getting married too young. ´I married when I was eighteen, ´ he shouted drunkenly. ´If a farmer can sell an old horse, why can’t a husband sell his wife? I’d sell mine this minute if anybody wanted to buy her.´ Susan and people around the table knew that he was drunk. But he was more and more serious. Susan wanted to go, but Michael did not move. So she said angrily, ´I think I’d prefer a different husband.´ Some loud voice said ´Yes.´ That was a young unnoticed sailor. Michael offered a suggestion – five guineas. Susan took a child and followed the sailor. No one knew who that man was. The next morning, Michael woke up and remembered – he had not been dreaming. ´Oh God, what have I done? I must find her.´ He walked through the empty village until he arrived at an old stone church. He went inside, placed his right hand on the Bible and said, ´I, Michael Henchard, make a promise in the presence of God. I will not touch another drop of alcohol for twenty years.´ He began the search for his wife and child. Finally, he heard that a woman and child had left with a sailor and sailed for Canada. Filled with shame, he decided to stop searching. He stayed in one town – Casterbridge.
Richard Newson died in a storm at the sea and Susan Henchard (or Mrs Newson – as she should be called) did not want her eighteen-year-old daughter Elisabeth-Jane to grow up in poverty, so she decided to find Michael Henchard again.
In Castenbridge women found Michael Henchard as a mayor of town. Susan and Michael met and with love explained everything to each other. He had plan how to stay together without discovering the truth to other people, especially to Elizabeth–Jane. Michael wrote a letter to Lucetta with explanation not to marry her with help of his corn manager. Then he announced that he was going to marry Susan. After the wedding, Susan and Elizabeth-Jane moved into Henchard´s house, and there began a very happy period of their lives. Donald had opened his own office as far away from town as possible. Henchard was annoyed and ordered his daughter never to see him again. Susan become ill. She wrote a short letter for Michael, which she then locked in her desk. She died. Henchard was feeling very sad and lonely. His wife was dead, his good friend Farfrae had become his enemy, and his own daughter was still a stranger to him. He said her that he is her real father. Then he left the room and went for the original marriage certificate. While he was searching through his documents, he found a letter addressed to him. He read: Elizabeth-Jane is not your Elizabeth-Jane. The child who was in my arms when you sold me died three months after I left you. He started to criticize Elizabeth-Jane for small mistakes. The poor girl could not understand her father’s cruel behaviour at all. She often sat by her mother’s grave to think. One morning as she entered the graveyard, one woman dressed in black was standing by her mother’s grave. She was telling her everything about her life. She had dreams of leaving her father, but she had nowhere to go. The unknown woman invited her to her house.
Michael received a letter from Lucetta: ´...I have rented High Street Hall, near the market square, which will be very convenient for you to visit. I heard about the death of your wife, so now I am asking you to keep the promise you made me before she returned.´
Elizabeth-Jane left. A few days after that, Henchard received another letter from Lucetta: ´You are probably aware of the arrangement I have made with your daughter. Do you understand, Michael, why I have done it? It will give you an excuse to visit my house. She is a dear, good girl, and she thinks you have treated her unfairly.´Donald Farfrae came found Miss Henchard, but she was not at Lucetta´s home. He loved at first sight to Lucetta. Farfrae visited Lucetta with increasing regularity. Henchard´s interest in Lucetta was growing, too. He has come to tell her that he was ready to marry her. She refused him. Michael hired a new corn manager. He chose Jopp, the man who also hated Farfrae. Together, they planned to put Farfrae out of business by selling their own corn more cheaply. But plans have been unsuccessful. Michael was forced to sell a lot of his property to the bank. Michael gave a condition to Lucetta, ´Unless you promise now to be my wife, I´ll make sure the whole town knows the secret of our past.´ So she agreed. One day, Henchard had to go to the town hall to hear the case of a woman who had been arrested outside the church for being drunk. The old woman was that woman who sold a soup in a tent to a man and woman with a baby twenty years ago. She said everything and Henchard said that it was true.
News of this unbelievable development spread quickly around the town. So Lucetta didn’t want to see Michael. He found out that Lucetta planned to marry with Donald.
When Lucetta told Elizabeth-Jane about her marriage to Donald Farfrae, she packed her bags and moved into some small rooms in another part of town. Henchard was having problems of his own. He lost everything. Jopp had been the only one to offer him a place to stay. One time Donald met Michael. He persuaded him to stay in town and offered him a part of his former house and a job in his yard. Donald owned everything from Michael in that time. Henchard refused it.
Henchard was ill and let Elizabeth-Jane to care of him. Then he decided to work for Donald. Henchard´s promise not to touch alcohol ended. So he went and got drunk. The distance between Farfrae and Henchard grew again. Henchard began to drink more heavily. But Donald believed that they were friends and wanted to buy for him a small seed shop. But he heart that he hated him so much. Donald got a big supply. The old mayor died and official came to ask Donald to be the next Mayor of Casterbridge. Henchard wanted to kill Donald, but he started cry and said, ´I cannot hurt you. No man ever loved another as much as I once loved you...´ Lucetta asked Henchard to return the letters she had sent him. Henchard asked Jopp to deliver letters to her. On the way Jopp met two women who called him to the pub. Jopp become drunk, and so the whole town found out that Lucetta, the women of high position, sent letters to a man who is not her husband. They started to plan skimmity-ride (life-size models of people who had been unfaithful in marriage were carried through the town on top of a donkey). But they did not have money for this. One stranger in a fur coat and hat offered them help. When Lucetta heard it, she fell heavily to the floor. Elizabeth-Jane was with her and she called the doctor. Donald was extramural. Lucetta died.
A stranger in a fur coat and hat visited Henchard. It was Richard Newson. He told Michael everything about his life with Susan and that he had pretended to drown at sea and she would be free again to find her original husband. He looked for Elizabeth-Jane. But Michael said him that she is also dead.
Life was good for Michael because Elizabeth-Jane stood with him. He did not believe he had found true happiness at last. By the end of the year his business had grown, thanks mainly to Elizabeth-Jane. Elizabeth-Jane and Donald Farfrae started to meet and soon others noticed it. One day Elizabeth-Jane received an unnoticed letter. Somebody wanted to see her. When she said it to her father, he announced her that he was going to leave Casterbridge. He left town that evening.
Elizabeth-Jane met Newson, who told her truth. In fact, she was relieved to hear it, because it explained Henchard´s strange behaviour towards her. And she was delighted to accept Newson as her real father.Donald Farfrae had asked Elizabeth-Jane to marry him. She happily accepted. They were very happy in her new life, but she could not completely forget her stepfather. With Donald she started to look for him. They found out that he is death and left a note for his stepdaughter. On the piece of paper was the sad and bitter wishes about his funeral – I do not want to be remembered by anyone, I do not want to be buried in church grounds,...
M y o p i n i o n
When I started to read, I read the unbelievable events in the same breath. It is impossible to sell own wife. I wanted to know what was going to happen. But in the middle of the story I become tired because of minutely unbelievable and unexpected innovations of the story. Author with screwy story wanted to show that the strangest things can happen to anyone and that happiness people should not find only in wealth and comfort. He describes in excellent way the psychic of his characters.
I like Elizabeth-Jane for her gentle heart and her ability to remit and Susan for her power. And I have never liked Lucetta I am afraid. According to me she was not so sensitive and thought only about her advantages.