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How does Hardy present his characters in the first ten chapters? To focus on Michael Henchard, Susan Henchard, Elizabeth Jane Henchard and Donald Farfrae.

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Introduction

How does Hardy present his characters in the first ten chapters? To focus on Michael Henchard, Susan Henchard, Elizabeth Jane Henchard and Donald Farfrae. Hardy uses Nature to frequently identify with the characters and mirrors their actions. Their surroundings shed light on each of their situations and create mystery for the reader to interpret. Each of the characters develops quickly over the initial chapters and in this haste, Hardy exploits the recurring theme of fate, channelled through chance and irony. We only learn more about the characters through pieces of information fed to us as each chapter unveils more information about the characters and their relationships towards eachother. The negative and mysterious introduction paves the way for the following chapters. Initially, it is clear that the family described is of a lower class as they are "plainly but not ill clad" whilst travelling on foot. The man is described at length with his "...fine figure, swarthy and stern..."yet "...a dogged and cynical indifference." One can infer that Hardy was deliberately giving precedence to this man to depict his masculinity and dominance, as a person and his role the relationship, which is still not clear as to it being a marriage. The man carries a "measured springless walk" implying despondency and weariness. This is followed by their unusual situation unfolding as the man and woman do not regard eachother despite their obvious connection. ...read more.

Middle

He still carries the inherent paradoxes in his character. He reveals his caring side in his concern for the wheat that is unfit for his people. Yet again, Hardy proves that Michael also has a darker and angrier side, subtly shown in both his "coarse build" and his sharp retort at the end of the chapter. The idea of integrity expresses itself several times during period in the King's Arms. Firstly, Elizabeth-Jane notices that Henchard's is the only wineglass to remain empty. This detail balances the image of Henchard as his temper can lead him to irrationality; he is also a man of integrity, who honours his extreme promises. The incident of the "grown wheat" confronts Henchard's biggest insecurity of how to make amends for past doings. Henchard's actions indicate that he wonders if the mistakes of the past can be undone, and he hones his resolve for the possibility that he may be able to compensate for it. Nevertheless, stricken by guilt, first by his sale of his wife and daughter and, eighteen years later, by the suggestion of shady business dealings, Henchard longs to omit his shadowy past. The young Scot Donald Farfrae arrives in Casterbridge at about the same time as Susan and Elizabeth Jane and becomes Michael Henchard's corn manager. He instantly becomes Henchard's only confidante and contrasts Henchard in every way. He is small in appearance and is courteous, charming, systematic and rational. ...read more.

Conclusion

In chapter ten, again, the two sides of Michael's personality are revealed. At first, he behaves kindly towards Elizabeth-Jane, treating her tenderly when he learns who she is and who sent her. In addition, he tactfully inquires after Susan's finances. He even buys Susan back by enclosing five guineas, showing chivalry in the symbolism. However, this could also be seen as keeping his old trait of using money to solve his problems. Superficially, he is a very respectable man, yet his dark side now begins to show itself more openly. Most importantly, his own pride leads him to meet Susan in a secret place- he is too ashamed to meet her openly, lest some villagers learn the truth and ridicule him. This pride, anger, and tactlessness will undoubtedly lead to his ruin. Hardy has centred the initial chapters on Henchard, contrasting his actions by all those around him. It appears as though the old rely on the young for stability and the discrepancy between men and women is so great. Consequently, if in keeping with Hardy's pattern of signifying prominent details, the women will eventually break free from the domination of their men and the young will thrive alone. Each of the characters is well delineated as they all have developed after having been affected by the forces of fate and destiny. Hardy deliberately keeps situations vague to allow the reader to assume the end certain events, yet there are continuous twists, which leave Hardy's control of fate to navigate. By Mariella de Souza. 12EAS. ...read more.

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