GCSE: The Mayor of Casterbridge

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28 GCSE The Mayor of Casterbridge essays

  • Peer Reviewed essays 1
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  1. Peer reviewed

    "Discuss how the passage of time is presented in the first chapters of The Mayor of Casterbridge. What effect does it have on the characters?"

    3 star(s)

    As it was set in the 1830's the landscape would have been very different from today. This is demonstrated from the start of the book. Michael and Susan Henchard are "plainly but not ill clad" This tells us that they are not badly off. On the other hand they are covered in a "thick hoar of dust" telling us that the roads are unpaved. This also implies that although the Henchards are not badly off they cannot afford transport indicating that it is still expensive at this time. Henchard is described as "of fine figure, swarthy, and stern in aspect."

    • Essay length: 1431 words
  2. The mayor of casterbridge

    Susan Henchard is carrying a baby called Elizabeth-Jane. As the Henchards continue they come across a Turnip-Hoer implying that the residents still live off the land a rural village. When the couple met the turnip-hoer, Henchard asked about work needed in the village. This is evidence to show, due to the industrial revolution, work in the country was short, and with all these new machines around, many homes were taken down. Although Henchard doesn't approve of all these new ways of life, he eventually will use them showing that he realises people must change.

    • Essay length: 1453 words
  3. Analyse the change in character of Michael Henchard throughout the novel, the Mayor of Casterbridge

    From this and Henchard's primary reactions, it appears that Henchard's melancholy attitude is due to the fact that he has married young and already fathers a child by the name of Elizabeth Jane. In his resent and attempt to seek revenge at anything he can think of, Henchard salvages himself by drinking to ease his emotions, but this altogether ends up making him more aggressive than before. Once again, Henchard's rash and indecisive manner leads him to "take an oath in this solemn place" (the church)

    • Essay length: 3512 words
  4. Mayor of Casterbridge

    What would the modern reader think about the vivid descriptions Hardy creates that contribute greatly to the novel? When Casterbridge is first introduced, it is described as being an isolated old-fashioned agricultural town that was cut off from the outside world. "Casterbridge- at that time, recent as it was, untouched by the faintest sprinkle of modernism." There is a great contrast with the surrounding countryside and the town. "The mass became gradually dissected by the vision into towers, gables, chimneys and casements." Hardy creates an in-depth account of Casterbridge to engage the reader so they can connect with the town itself where most if not all the action of the novel takes place.

    • Essay length: 1635 words
  5. the mayor of casterbridge

    Until the 6th page, 3rd paragraph, Michael is referred to as, amongst other things, 'the man'. This gives a bit of suspense as the reader wishes to read further to find out who this person is and what his name. He seems an old fashioned man who does not welcome change. The sexual tension is evident both on an emotional level, "perfect silence they preserved...the woman enjoyed no society whatever from his presence", and physically, "sometimes the man's bent elbow almost touched her shoulder, for she kept as close to his side as was possible without actual contact; but she seemed to have no idea of taking his arm, nor he of offering it".

    • Essay length: 2393 words
  6. Whom or what is most to blame for Henchards downfall, to what extent do you believe he was right to blame himself

    He is at the fair at Weydon Priors with Susan and baby Elizabeth Jane and he is drunk, he hastily sells his wife for 5 guineas to a sailor. However earlier on Hardy indicates that their relationship had always been week. 'The young woman his wife, who has seemed accustomed to such remarks acted as if she did not hear them.' After this point, Henchard realizes his mistake; this is how he lost Susan. Here Henchard has mixed sentiments but he does feel some remorse and guilt for his actions.

    • Essay length: 1138 words
  7. The Mayor of Casterbridge | Characters

    Because Farfrae is more organized and methodical than Henchard, the business prospers under his management. Farfrae is ambitious enough to eventually go into business for himself, though, and this enrages Henchard even though Farfrae, in his typically principled way, tries to minimize competition between the two firms. Farfrae courts Elizabeth-Jane and even hints that he would marry her if he were in a financial position to do so, but when he meets the newly wealthy Miss Templeman-Henchard's former lover whom he, too, is again courting-he turns his affections to her and marries her.

    • Essay length: 2138 words
  8. What the Mayor of Casterbridge tells us

    The first scene is works well by establishing the visual appearance of Casterbridge, giving us suggestions of the themes to run throughout the novel and introducing us to the main character(s). In the story the family travel to Weydon Priors, an event takes place where Henchard gets drunk and sells his wife for five guineas. He wakes in the morning and goes in search of her but he can't find her so returns to the town of Casterbridge. He makes a vow to not drink for 18 years.

    • Essay length: 1431 words
  9. Comparison between Michael Henchard and Okonkwo

    The Obi, in war and in farming was among the trappings of success. In both books we also learn about the men's shaded history, especially the events of Michael Henchard. From one profound mistake would base the beginning of his oath, an oath that would drive him to success. After more than just one dose of rum in his fermity, Henchard stood up before a crowded tent and proceeded to sell his wife. Only on the final bid of five Guineas, did the transaction conclude and his wife and newly born child disappear to a new life.

    • Essay length: 2319 words
  10. How Far Is Michael Henchard Responsible For His Own Ruin? , Do You Feel He Can Usefully Be Described As A Tragic Hero?

    These sides of Henchard's character eventually lead to his downfall and yet interestingly he has not even started to 'make a man of himself'. Michael at first cannot believe what he has done the morning after, but it soon occurs to him the terrible deed he has committed himself to. The oath that Henchard takes before God proves that Michael Henchard was feeling resentful and also showed that deep down without alcohol he could be a good man and makes us feel that he could be described as a tragic hero as we are shown such a contrast in character.

    • Essay length: 3639 words
  11. What the Mayor of Casterbridge tells us About 19th Century Wessex.

    The first scene is works well by establishing the visual appearance of Casterbridge, giving us suggestions of the themes to run throughout the novel and introducing us to the main character(s). In the story the family travel to Weydon Priors, an event takes place where Henchard gets drunk and sells his wife for 5 pounds. He wakes in the morning and goes in search of her but he can't find her so returns to the town of Casterbridge. He makes a vow to not drink for 18 years.

    • Essay length: 1393 words
  12. The Mayor of Casterbridge - Discussing Henchard's personality, and the reasons for his success and his deterioration in life.

    The importance of a solid reputation and character is rather obvious given Henchard's situation, for Henchard has little else besides his name. He arrives in Casterbridge with nothing more than tools of the hay-trusser's trade, through out the course of the novel, Henchard attempts to earn, or to believe that he has earned his position. He is, however, plagued by feelings of his own worthlessness, and he places himself in situations that can only result in failure. For instance, he revels in petty jealousy of Farfrae, which leads to a drawn-out competition in which Henchard loses his position as mayor, his business, and the women he loves.

    • Essay length: 2127 words
  13. What the Mayor of Casterbridge tells us About 19th Century Wessex - Discuss

    It was one summers evening when the three (Michael, Susan and Elizabeth-Jane) begin the voyage to Weydon-priors. Although the man, woman, and child are not poorly dressed, "..... The thick hoar of dust which accumulated on their shoes and garments from an obviously long journey lent a disadvantageous shabbiness to their appearance just now". The first scene is typical of that of any book as it gets directly into action and gives us a brief description of the main character(s).In the story the Family travel to Weydon Priors, an event takes place where Henchard gets drunk and sells his wife for 5 pounds, He wakes up in the morning and goes in search of his wife, he can't find her so returns to the town of Casterbridge.

    • Essay length: 1547 words
  14. The Mayor of Casterbridge - 'Michael Henchard's life was a series of disasters that led to self-destruction; we can have no sympathy for him.' Discuss.

    What motivated the sale? What frame of mind was he in? Use supporting quotation. You need to explain events, Laura, not just mention that they happened. Analysis is the key to success. The day after, realising what he had done, he made a vow not to drink for as many years as he had lived to that day - twenty-one. Many years later when Susan arrived in Casterbridge she saw him at... 'the great public dinner for gentle people'... where next to each person was a beer glass, apart from Michael whose tumbler contained water.

    • Essay length: 1010 words
  15. How does Thomas Hardy control the reader's response to Donald Farfrae in 'The Mayor of Casterbridge?'

    Farfrae received "a burst of applause; and a deep silence which was even more eloquent than the applause." The audience was truly moved by his beautiful singing that described his Scottish homelands that seemed so full of passion and emotion. But when asked about his country, he shows that he possesses no real passion for Scotland, and reveals his shallow nature to the audience. Michael Henchard meets Farfrae at the Three Mariners Inn and offers him a job: "... you shall manage the corn branch entirely, and receive a commission in addition to salary".

    • Essay length: 3201 words
  16. The Mayor of Casterbridge - Short Critique.

    Early, in Chapter I, Henchard sells his wife and child to a sailor while drunk. He claims that they are nothing but a burden to him. Later, in Chapter XVII, he demands that Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae cease contact because he sees Farfrae's new, quickly growing business as a kind of "coup." Yet again, in Chapter XLI, Henchard makes a hasty, egocentric decision. Newson comes to his home to inquire about Elizabeth-Jane, but since Henchard has recently had a swell of love for her, he tells Newson that she is dead. However, he continually feels the need to try to right his past wrongs.

    • Essay length: 740 words
  17. To what extent is Michael Henchard to blame for his own fate?

    Later on at the fair, under the influence of alcohol he auctions his wife; this moment had changed his whole life. Now it would have been easier for him to say something like: "I'm sorry I had too much to drink..." but he didn't; because he is aware of his mistake. At the end of the day, selling his wife was his fault. After which he takes a vow never to touch alcohol again for the next twenty years.

    • Essay length: 591 words
  18. The Mayor of Casterbridge - By reference to some half a dozen incidents, show the many different characteristics of Michael Henchard.

    Henchard tries to find out what happened to them but he is too ashamed and proud to let everyone know what he had done. Henchard did not mean to sell his wife and daughter and he blames Susan which is seen as selfish of him. "Yet she knows I am not in my senses when I do that!...Seize her, why didn't she know better than bring me into this disgrace!...Tis like Susan to show some idiotic simplicity." When Henchard fails to find them, he makes a vow to never drink alcohol for the next twenty-one years which shows his penitence.

    • Essay length: 776 words
  19. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. Henchard - Well -Meaning Villain or Tragic Hero?

    However, Henchard also has many negative features that are simply part of his personality, which he finds difficult to curb even when he is sober. He is naturally quick to form opinions and agree or object to things, leading to some rash decisions such as the hiring then firing of Farfrae, and the prevention of his courtship with Elizabeth-Jane. A little more thought, consideration and tolerance on Henchard's part could have led to a flourishing relationship with the Scotsman, as both a co-worker and a friend.

    • Essay length: 2193 words
  20. Comparison of Michael Henchard and Okonkwo.

    This reveals Henchard's unwavering determination that can enable him to do such drastic things. A sign of how drastically Henchard has reformed is when Susan warned her daughter, "He (Henchard) may be in the workhouse or in the stocks for all we know." Susan's presumption of Henchard's lowly status tells us that even his wife did not think him capable of rising to a dignified position. This shows that Henchard's reform was quite remarkable for him to have become Mayor.

    • Essay length: 4314 words
  21. The untimely demise of Michael Henchard

    Mind, it is a joke no longer." (page 12) Henchard refuses to back down. I think that this is because he is in front of the crowd and greatly emboldened by the illicit rum that he drank in the furmity even though he will greatly regret it later. Another of Henchard's traits also leads to his downfall. This is his objective way of looking at things. He always takes things at face value and never thinks to look beyond the cover of a situation. One example of just such a situation is the twenty-one year vow that he takes to never touch alcohol when he realises that he has sold his wife and child to Newson.

    • Essay length: 1223 words
  22. Essay describing the author's views on The Character Michael Henchard.

    Also at the beginning of the novel Henchard is a poor man, but he gains fortune and respect when he starts his new life in Casterbridge, giving him the important place that is necessary for a tragic hero. When Henchard is found is Casterbridge, we are told that he is the owner of the largest grain business around. He is also the mayor, and he lives in a mansion. The townspeople speak highly of him, and they especially admire his ability to not drink.

    • Essay length: 1322 words
  23. 'Short stories can be remarkably effective' this statement is proved very successful by the short story 'One of These Days' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

    There is also a very opposite theme of poverty. This theme is questioned when you find out that the dentist is working 'without a degree'. This brings the reader to wonder what kind of community the dentist is living in if he is working as an unqualified dentist. Mystery and tension is added to the story when the dentist 'arranges his instruments in size order as if they were on display' giving the impression that he is a neat, particular and anxious person waiting for something bad to happen.

    • Essay length: 1056 words
  24. The Mayor of Casterbridge

    His relationship with his wife, Susan, appears to be a quiet one, with neither of them showing obvious signs of affection towards each other "Sometimes the man's bent elbow almost touched her shoulder, for she kept as close to his side as possible without actual contact." There seems to be complete silence between the couple, the only noise from the family was the whisper of Susan to her daughter "If any word at all were uttered it was an occasional whisper of the woman to the child."

    • Essay length: 523 words
  25. Michael Henchard brought his troubles upon himself. How far do you agree with this statement?

    This is same aspect of Henchard that made him so forbearing and committed to his wedding vows with Susan. This characteristic allowed him to be reliable, something that greatly assisted him to being respected in the town. However, if he would have not been so honourable and turned Susan away, it may have all worked out better. I can speculate, he could have married Lucetta and her money would have been a great asset to him and his business, not to mention depriving Farfrae of the money. This is an example of how Henchard's passions obstructs his goals. There is also evidence to suggest Henchard is impulsive: for example, Henchard, without taking the time to consider his decision, dismisses Farfrae after the party.

    • Essay length: 616 words

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Whom or what is most to blame for Henchards downfall, to what extent do you believe he was right to blame himself

    "In conclusion I believe that to some extent Henchard himself is to blame for his own downfall from these examples and these reasons however it was not his own entire fault about his downfall, other characters in the novel played a big part in his life as when new characters for example, Farfrae were introduced, his life suddenly declined. In the beginning he became the mayor and was certainly a respectable man in the community. It is all down to fate, as nearly everything that happened in the novel was against him and at the end of the novel Hardy indicates this by signifying him dead."

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