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Explore the ways in which Hardy uses the past in the novel The Mayor of Casterbridge

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Explore the ways in which Hardy uses the past in the novel "The Mayor of Casterbridge" Thomas Hardy wrote the novel 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' in 1886. Hardy wrote at a time when Britain was industrialized and set his own novels three or four decades earlier. This could reflect his interests from the past. Hardy uses the past to create many different meanings and ideas in his novel using characterisation, language, historical and social background. One way in which Hardy uses the past is to show how characters past can come back to affect their present, Newson's return is an example of this. As a reader, we grow gradually to like Henchards character more because we are able to sympathize with him as things between himself and Elizabeth-Jane appears to be going well, the relationship between one another is starting to re-build. As Henchard builds up affection for Elizabeth-Jane and treats her as his own daughter, however this is the time in which the real father, Newson, decides to visit Henchard. Nontheless the reader knows that her real father has returned. This juxtaposition creates dramatic irony , as the timing is such a coincidence and is bound to cause more drama. The knock on the door of Newson destroys Henchards and Elizabeth-Jane's bond. This also creates ironic juxtaposition. Henchard could possibly be envious of Newson as he knows Newson could potentially break the relationship, Henchard does not want to give up Elizabeth-Jane as everything had been taken away from him and he wants to hold on to protect her. ...read more.


He approaches business with a modern attitude. Farfrae keeps the business account books in perfect order, not hesitating to work late doing it. Hardy uses the physical and behavioral differences between Henchard and Farfrae to illustrate his preference of the past. Chapter 6 opens with a description of the young Scotsman, who is "ruddy and of a fair countenance, bright-eyed, and slight in build." Compare this description to that of Michael from Chapter 5 "a man... of heavy frame, large features... his general build being rather coarse than compact." The two men are complete opposites in physical appearance. Henchard is rooted in the heart of Casterbridge, the old world. Where as Farfrae is from Scotland and has been around the world, we associate him with the 'new world'. Henchard's way of working is old and crude, "ill do it", and that would be the deal with Henchard, it would be done without complication. However with Farfrae he needed letters and figures for deals. Farfrae is everything Henchard would love to be, and loves to pretend that he is. This initially causes Henchard to admire and like Farfrae, but it eventually leads to jealousy and resentment. Across the whole novel the new tends to replace the old. ' as in all such cases of advance, the rugged picture quinces of the old method disappeared with its inconsistencies'. ...read more.


tends to be very old fashioned, like the past is still clutching onto the town and wont let go. The first time Elizabeth-Jane sees Casterbridge she says "what an old fashioned place it seems to be", this suggests that Casterbridge is different to any other towns in the country. I think Hardy intended the novel to be only set in old traditional times, as he said "at that time...untouched by the fainted sprinkle of modernism", this tells us that Hardy really wanted to include the setting of a past town that was not in the slightest bit modern. The over all setting was described as" the complement of the rural life around, not its urban opposite". The houses in Casterbridge were said to have "old fashioned fronts" and that they are " older than old fashioned backs". The physical appearance of Casterbridge is presented as unchanging, unlike the relationships within the town. Some things don't change, and maybe Hardy finds it comforting. Hardy uses many different techniques to convey the use of the past in the novel. He uses past to show how characters change during the novel. The past in the Mayor of Casterbridge can give certain places a character. Through his knowledge of architecture the past gives a sense of realism and distinguishes plause in the novel. The past creates many different ideas, such as irony, shape to current events, appropriate setting and atmosphere for key moments in the novel. Hardy uses all of these techniques appropriately to create an outstanding novel. ...read more.

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