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To what extent do you think Michael Henchard is responsible for his own downfall? Michael Henchard's life is a series of terrible disasters, which leads to self destruction

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Introduction

To what extent do you think Michael Henchard is responsible for his own downfall? Michael Henchard's life is a series of terrible disasters, which leads to self destruction. However, deciding whether Michael Henchard is responsible for his own downfall and to what extent is something which needs a lot of deliberation before getting an answer. There are different factors which need to be looked at before deciding this, such as whether it was Henchard's fault, or whether he could have stopped the disaster from happening. The only way to determine whether or not Henchard is totally responsible for his own downfall is to look at each disaster which occurs in the novel and then see whether he could have prevented it or not. Starting directly from the beginning, the novel begins with Michael Henchard travelling with his wife and daughter and then stopping at a furmity tent for some food. Michael straight away decided that he wanted some rum in his furmity. "He winked to her, and passed up his basin in reply to her nod; when she took a bottle from under the table, slily measured out a quantity of its contents, and tipped the same into the man's furmity. ...read more.

Middle

"Well, I lost my wife nineteen years ago or so -by my own fault..." By Henchard admitting to doing something wrong shows he has integrity again. By Henchard being completely honest with his business partner, the audience see the positive side to him come out again. Henchard's downfall continues from his relationship with Farfrae. Hardy describes the liking Henchard has for Farfrae. This is used to make Henchard's downfall look bigger than if Henchard wasn't so involved and close to Farfrae. Henchard and Susan are not lovers anymore and Susan meets him at the 'ring', an amphitheatre near Castorbridge which Hardy describes as, "...seldom had place in the amphitheatre, that of happy lovers." Even though Susan and Henchard are not close anymore, Henchard shows sensitivity towards Susan and begins their conversation in a peculiar way. "I don't drink anymore." This is Henchard wanting to prove a point to Susan that he regrets what he did, by telling her that he now feels responsible for his actions shows a positive side to Henchard. Susan and EJ see a lot more of Henchard and after a while EJ becomes closer to Michael and spends more time with him than she does her mother. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hardy's efforts to put across the personality of Michael Henchard at the beginning of the novel are very successful. Throughout the novel Henchard's downfall has just increased by the day. The language used at the beginning of the novel is exceptionally descriptive. First impressions of Henchard are positive from reading the first page. The negative side begins to show when he reaches the furmity tent. By chapter 31 Hardy shows that Henchard has sunk socially and financially. He has to go and live with Joshua Jopp and refuses to see anyone. "Socially he had received a startling fillip downwards; and, having already lost commercial buoyancy from rash transactions, the velocity of his descent in both aspects became accelerated every hour." Farfrae and EJ decide to get married. Henchard shows integrity by attending but EJ just can't forgive Henchard for what he did and walks away form him. He bought a goldfinch as a wedding present, which Hardy uses as a symbol of Henchard's life. Some people may have different opinions on why Henchard went downhill. Some people may put it down to fate. Others may think that Henchard is entirely responsible for all that happened. Hardy leaves this decision quite widely open. Henchard's character has an extreme effect on other people and how their lives are lived, especially EJ's. ...read more.

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