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GCSE: The Mayor of Casterbridge
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"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."
- Word count: 1431
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.
- Word count: 1453
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.
- Word count: 1635
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.
- Word count: 1138
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.
- Word count: 1547
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.
- Word count: 1010
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.
- Word count: 1223
'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.
- Word count: 1056
In ‘The mayor of Casterbridge’ Henchard is presented as atypical tragic hero. How far do you agree with this statement?
We see that when he gets drunk he does things, which he later regrets. We can tell this as the morning after he sells Susan he wishes that he hadn't and takes an oath not to drink again for twenty-one years. "I, Michael Henchard...take an oath...to avoid all strong liquors...for...21 years" He then goes on to complete his oath by not drinking for twenty-one years, which shows that he is a man who sticks to his principles. The second point that shows that Henchard is a typical tragic hero is his relationship with Susan.
- Word count: 1210
So they moved and set out to find a clean healthy town witch would be good for Elizabeth-Jane. On their travels they found a sign post saying the nearest village, it was Waydon. As they were getting closer to the village they came across a man, he asked them if they were heading towards Waydon, "yes" Michael replied. The man told him if he was looking for any work, " It is pointless looking in that village for work, there is nothing" Despite this Henchard and Susan went on to the village to try and find some shelter.
- Word count: 1478