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The mayor of casterbridge

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Introduction

Pre-1914 Prose Thomas Hardy: The Mayor of Casterbridge Demonstrate how, in the first two chapters of The Mayor of Casterbridge, Hardy presents a powerful image of a central character against a vivid background The book is set in the summer of around 1830, we know this because "before the 19th century had reached one-third of its span." 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." His clothing is old fashioned "short jacket of brown corduroy" and a "waistcoat with white horn buttons." This "stale familiarity" between Henchard and Susan is an example of another common theme in the novel, which is that of frustrating and imprisoning relationships. This is portrayed as a normal state as she "appeared to receive it as a natural thing." Susan Henchard is carrying a baby called Elizabeth-Jane. ...read more.

Middle

Susan is the only person who tries to put the whole state of affairs to a halt. The furmity tries to reassure Susan that Michael is just under the influence of drink. 'Others just encourage Michael, 'there's them that would do that,' this shows that they find such an offer common. For the rest of the customers in the tent, it appeared to be a sort of entertainment. After the auction, later, when he becomes abstemious, he realises his atrocity and falls into a state of remorse. The next day, he starts to search for his 'spouse'. After failing to locate Susan in the Fair, he makes an oath to 'avoid all strong liquors for the space of twenty-one years...' This shows that he has realised that the main cause of the whole dilemma was the alcohol. Henchard lets his heart rule his head by the vow of twenty one years. After the time gap of eighteen years, Hardy doesn't find it necessary to show how Henchard progressed as he used Farfrae (Henchards political rival) to show how he did it. Despite being Mayor, Henchard has lost none of his love of tradition. He still did everything the old fashioned way from the clothes that he wore to the way that he runs the town. At this point in the story the other main character, Donald Farfrae, a Scot is introduced. ...read more.

Conclusion

By the terrible action of the wife sale, Henchard goes on to make himself a better man by vowing never to touch another drink the years he had lived. As he grows older, he has achieved himself a high position in life and his community. Susan did not change; she was still the same person, quiet, faint still she was almost invisible. This makes it her most crucial part to the novel. In conclusion to how Hardy presents a powerful image of a central character against a vivid background; although people tried to keep things as they always had been the passage of time is unstoppable and the victims of it are the people. Weydon Priors resources had gradually gone to the towns and cities and it had continued to decline. Hardy's view was that time had been unkind to Susan who had a troublesome and disturbing life. The most successful person at stopping the progress of time was Henchard who managed to keep him and the town of Casterbridge the same for 20 years. His downfall can also be related to fate rather than time but, personally, I realised that time was the main problem. Time and mostly fate however eventually dragged him down too as he was unable to adapt to changes in rural commerce. For the most part time is portrayed as an unstoppable force that preys on the people around it. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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