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Chance, Accident and Coincidence in The Mayor of Casterbridge

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Introduction

In The Mayor of Casterbridge, Hardy presents chance, accident and coincidence. Illustrate their significance to the novel as a whole. Enthusiasts of Thomas Hardy's novels know him with his distinctive philosophy of life. That is, the indestructible unseen force, Fate, exists to alter the happiness of a human's life. Fate resides in nature and may appear as a natural force. Thus, The Mayor of Casterbridge falls under the category of novels of character and environment. Furthermore, Hardy believes that there are different manifestations of Fate. Apart from its guise as nature, it also appears in the apparition of Chance, Accident and Coincidence. Ramji Lall mentioned that there has been an excessive use of chance and coincidence in this novel's course of events. Hardy has been blamed for this, and no doubt he does sometimes overdo it. But to condemn his use of chance altogether is to misunderstand his view of life. Therefore, this essay attempts to illustrate the usefulness of chance, accident and coincidence to the novel. Chance exists in love, a weather-forecast and the goldfinch in the novel. Michael Henchard, the main character whose life is deeply succumbed into the hands of Fate, seeks love through Elizabeth-Jane Newson. Love is a chance whether one will give the affections or sympathy to the other and it depends on the other to appreciate the chance given to lead a fulfilling life. In Casterbridge, Elizabeth apparently gives her utmost devotion and care to Henchard when he discloses the transaction at Weydon-Fair to her and that she is her real daughter. ...read more.

Middle

But this accident has led the two victims to a heated argument. This therefore represents conflict between Henchard and Farfrae thus bringing in the concept of drama. In addition, Hardy incorporated this unexpected event so as to add the surprising effect of the novel, apart from firing up conflict between the characters of the novel; and thus fulfilling the novel's criterion as a drama. To take the meaning of this collision of waggons to another perspective is that it symbolizes the clash of rustic and industrialization. Henchard, on one hand, practices traditional methods in handling his hay and corn business whilst Farfrae uses modern technology in his. Hardy has a knack for pairing two distinctive features in one novel, such as modernism and traditionalism itself, and he is well credited for it. By using dualism in this novel it creates the theme of the novel - the clash of two lifestyles and that the rustic life giving way to modernism. It highlights the outlook of English evolution during the reign of Industrialism in the 1840s. All in all, "The Mayor of Casterbridge" is a wholesome book in my opinion because it merely not describing the scuffles in a hamlet, it presents us the bigger picture of a human's life. Accident may also be considered as a misfortune; unfortunate for Henchard to meddle with such occult activity as weather-forecasting. The act of Henchard seeking 'Wide-oh' to get a glimpse of future, that is to know whether the weather will be fine or not, metaphorically means that he seeks his own misfortune for meddling with uncertainty and possibilities. ...read more.

Conclusion

The characters narrowly miss bumping to each other; with Susan and Elizabeth had gone for the Three Mariners just when 'Henchard emerges from the King's Arm'. The readers have probably been wondering when Henchard will meet his former family again, and how they will react to each other. From this the suspense builds. Hardy wants to make his readers wait a little longer before they can see this confrontation. Another instance is that the rooms for Farfrae and the woman and her daughter in the Three Mariners are allotted next to each other. Hardy makes his readers wait to find out more about the mysterious stranger Farfrae. As the novel progresses, all these characters intertwined, entangled and the readers are served with the struggles by each individual character trying to win or outdo the others. Readers are made to think and predict who will prevail. All in all, the role of coincidence in this novel is to show the battle between the odds, the disappointment in hope and to aggravate suspense. They also emphasize Hardy's belief that man is not in control of his own destiny, but is ruled by Fate. To put it briefly, it is inevitable to think that chance, accident and coincidence in 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' are merely the agents of Fate. Evidently, Henchard, the main character, is surrounded by an environment which seems to be against him - the weather, the people, and the situations. These invisible features are apparently indestructible no matter how hard Henchard tries. Hence, Hardy's excessive use of chance and coincidence does effectively make the story tragic, by means of the merciless damnation towards a character. ?? ?? ?? ?? Maya Irma, AL85 ...read more.

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