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Mayor of Casterbridge - Character Study - Susan Henchard

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Mayor of Casterbridge Character Study - Susan Henchard When we first meet Susan Henchard at the beginning of the book, she is described as 'meek', shy and we get the impression that she likes to keep herself to herself. We assume that her husband, Michael Henchard, overpowers her but she is too timid to speak up for herself. She accompanies Michael Henchard to Weydon-Priors, and seems to be a obedient wife to him. His attitude towards her was understandable as he wasn't too keen on her meekness, and would have preferred a woman who stood up to what she thought was correct. Nonetheless, she puts up with being treated poorly until she gets the chance to break free in the first chapter when Michael gets drunk, and she is 'rescued' by Richard Newson, a sailor, by being auctioned off for five guineas in a drunken riot. ...read more.


This lack of initiative is understandable since Susan has not revealed her relationship to him. She wants to make certain that Henchard is acceptable and not drinking before she introduces Elizbeth-Jane. She could have also searched for Henchard because she was still legally married to him, but I think she was too shy to order him around and realised talking to him about their future together was best. Overly concerned with the appearance of politeness, Susan attempts to keep secrets about Henchard's and Elizabeth-Jane's identity in order to give the appearance of perfect family harmony to Elizabeth Jane and the public. She is afraid to betray Elizabeth Jane and tell her the truth about her father, and is also afraid to make Henchard aware of whom his real daughter is. I feel that she should have told her relations the truth about their past as soon as they were reunited as delaying it only makes the outcome harder to believe and harder for them to trust her in the future. ...read more.


Even thought she has passed away, she has left Elizabeth Jane Newson and Michael Henchard in an awkward position, as they now feel they have been mislead by her, and are unsure of what to believe. Elizabeth Jane is upset to find Henchard as her real father, but Henchard feels he cannot go back to her and say the truth; and the truth was what she knew in the first place, and he doesn't want to mess her around. It is because of her meekness that she didn't tell the truth at the beginning, even if she did only mean for the best. If she could see what a confusion she has created, I think she would be very sorry, but she probably wouldn't say so. As the first line of Chapter 4 goes, "Henchard's wife acted for the best, but she had involved herself in difficulties..." is very true and we can predict a lot from this sentence. Russell Nicholls 10Y 01/05/2007 ...read more.

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