• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The mayor of casterbridge

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Mayor of Casterbridge section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Mayor of Casterbridge essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    "Discuss how the passage of time is presented in the first chapters of The ...

    3 star(s)

    They do not seem to have a good relationship "but seemed to have no idea of taking his arm, nor he of offering it." This is portrayed as a normal state as she "appeared to receive it as a natural thing."

  2. Analyse the change in character of Michael Henchard throughout the novel, the Mayor of ...

    His liking and trust in Farfrae led him to speak of the memories that clouded his shameful past. Henchard also admits that he is "a lonely man" and has "nobody else to speak to". His lack of drinking means that he has no chance to socialise and therefore make friends.

  1. How Far Is Michael Henchard Responsible For His Own Ruin? , Do You Feel ...

    You feel that Henchard may be telling her now because Susan is dead and she cannot defend her daughter leaving Elizabeth Jane venerable to Henchard. Henchard is being very selfish when he tells Elizabeth Jane so soon after the death of her mother.

  2. Whom or what is most to blame for Henchards downfall, to what extent do ...

    To some extent I do believe that Henchard himself is to blame for his downfall, this is because he makes mistakes in life and the wrong decisions. He has too much pride and pride stands in the way when he tells Newson that Elizabeth Jane is dead and he tries his best to keep his secret from Newson.

  1. The Mayor of Casterbridge - 'Michael Henchard's life was a series of disasters that ...

    An example of this was when he put on a grand fair and it rained and so the entire thing was ruined. Comment on his judgement - an outdoor event with no shelter in England! This meant that the entire town ended up going to Donald Farfrae's fair, as his was sheltered from the storm.

  2. What the Mayor of Casterbridge tells us

    The workers had to wake up at extremely early hours so they could take full advantage of the amounts of sunlight; business for the farmers was difficult as the hours of sunlight was limited and the machinery was limited.

  1. How does Thomas Hardy control the reader's response to Donald Farfrae in 'The Mayor ...

    If Farfrae had obviously plotted to take over Henchard's role than there would be a good reason for the reader to really hate him, but all the praise he receives is from working hard and efficiently. Fuelled by jealousy, Henchard plans a spendthrift day of entertainment for the people of Casterbridge to win back their favour.

  2. The Mayor of Casterbridge - Discussing Henchard's personality, and the reasons for his success ...

    They associate with each other very well, sharing the same emotions and assets. We see in the first chapter, Henchard and his family enter Weydon-Priors, via the country side. Henchard comes looking for work, where he stops at a furmity tent, where working class people trade goods and belongings.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work