• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent do you believe that there is a fateful inevitability to Henchard’s tragedy and to what extent is it Henchard’s temperament that causes his downfall? How does Hardy gain the reader’s sympathy towards Henchard?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Sarah Emily Titchmarsh "The Mayor of Casterbridge" Thomas Hardy "Character is fate," writes Hardy, yet Henchard believes that some power is "working against him" and is "bent on punishing him." To what extent do you believe that there is a fateful inevitability to Henchard's tragedy and to what extent is it Henchard's temperament that causes his downfall? How does Hardy gain the reader's sympathy towards Henchard? "The Mayor of Casterbridge," a novel set in the early 1800s tells the story of the rise and subsequent decline of Michael Henchard, a self made man. The novel is mostly set in Casterbridge a typical, busy, country, farming town. Fate plays a large part in "The Mayor of Casterbridge." For example the plot of the novel relies on a number of coincidences. Many of these are to do with timing. The key initial event in the novel is the arrival of Newson at the furmity tent as Henchard sells his wife. Farfrae "who might possibly have passed by without stopping" arrives in Casterbridge, just as Henchard is being criticised for the quality of his corn. Henchard brings his fate upon himself for after much persuasion he convinces Farfrae to stay and employs him (an ironic twist of fate as one day it will be Farfrae who employs Henchard.) ...read more.

Middle

When he loses his temper because Farfrae's business is succeeding, whereas Henchard's is declining, Henchard then says, we'll "grind him into the ground - starve him out ... snuff him out". Henchard is also a very proud man. It is because of this that he refuses to take a room in Farfrae's house or to claim back his furniture. In many ways he is almost too proud and stubborn. This makes his own downfall seem much worse to him. Henchard is extremely jealous of Farfrae. Farfrae seems to make Henchard feel subordinate. Perhaps because Henchard is a self made man, he suffers from a lack of security and feelings of inferiority that Farfrae makes emerge. Farfrae undermines Henchard's authority by overruling him in their treatment of Abel Whittle. This is a major turning point in the novel and from here on Henchard's life begins its demise. When he is losing Henchard gives up easily, with a dumb-helplessness, "misery taught him nothing more than a defiant endurance." When things are going wrong for Henchard he does not act, he accepts the situation resignedly, "I am to suffer I perceive." He is also quite melodramatic which cause him to descend into deep periods of depression causing him in one case to become suicidal. ...read more.

Conclusion

After a long search Farfrae and Elizabeth Jane trace Henchard too late to his deathbed. The starkest words in Henchard's will is "that no man remember me." It would be a hardhearted reader who would forget such an unfortunate man. Hardy himself worried that he would not be understood. His main character in this novel is a flawed man. Hardy wrote "The Mayor of Casterbridge" at a time when he himself was feeling insecure. Hardy lost his faith in religion and came to see human beings as victims of fate and chance. He felt lonely, gloomy and misunderstood as his diary testifies. Hardy's life is perhaps in some ways mirrored in that of Michael Henchard's. It's a fine distinction between fate and character and they are very often subtly intertwined. Fate and character coexist in the novel. They are dependent on each other. I believe that it is a combination of character and destiny that cause Henchard's downfall. After twenty-one years Henchard walks back along the same path he travelled many years before. Still alone and with nothing to show for all his pain and suffering. He dies a lonely isolated man, a warning to us all, of character flaws and turbulent fate. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Thomas Hardy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Thomas Hardy essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Tess says, Once victim, always victim thats the law. In the light ...

    3 star(s)

    The use of the 'red paint' makes Tess feel as if the landscape, which is intrinsically entwined within her, is accusing her for the impurity with which she returns to Marlott, after sinning, by engaging in sexual intercourse and she feels she is 'damn[ed].'

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Thomas Hardy - analysis of three poems. Afterwards, During wind and rain ...

    3 star(s)

    Probably, Hardy writes this poem in the period of recovery through his assertion that Emma 'will have, Dear, to vanish from me'. However, Hardy probably 'love triumphs over time', asserting that 'all's closed now, despite 'Time's derision'. Hardy's uncertainty and tension is even conveyed through the metre.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The Mayor of Casterbridge - Henchard Vs Farfrae

    3 star(s)

    When Henchard admits to what is being said by the old women all respect is lost for him and he looses his role of town mayor. When Farfrae finally becomes mayor near the end of the novel (after the mayor after Henchard dies)

  2. To what extent do you think Michael Henchard is responsible for his own downfall? ...

    "...his wife, who seemed accustomed to such remarks, acted as if she did not hear them..." The scene is set for a foreboding novel when Hardy expresses his feelings about nature and mankind in the first part of the novel.

  1. Analysing The First Two Chapters of 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' and How They Act ...

    She discovers Michael's bad side, as he has too much rum in his furmity. We know that this isn't the first time, Henchard has behaved this way previously, as Hardy writes, 'The young woman his wife, who seemed accustomed to such remarks...'

  2. How The Mayor of Casterbridge reflects the social, historical and cultural influences of the ...

    selection, if any at all, so it was still the custom to brew ale in the pubs themselves. It was also known that people brewed their own beer at home and a favourite breakfast was freshly brewed ale and pigeon pie!

  1. Thomas Hardy "The Withered Arm" and "The Sons Veto".

    away from society due to the uncompromising class system set by society. This uncompromising class system compares to 'The Withered Arm' but Rhoda and Farmer Lodge do not run away, they result in ending their relationship. 'They were, however, away from everyone who had known her former position; and also under less observation.'

  2. Michael Henchard possesses all the features of a tragic hero. Discuss.

    the identity of the love letters, which were from Lucetta, to Farfrae; ?Such a wrecking of hearts appalled even [Henchard]?, and concludes that ?to accomplish the deed by oral poison was beyond the nerve of his enmity.? This shows that he restrained from animosity and showed his moral conscience, and that his actions abstained from cruelty.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work