Essay describing the author's views on The Character Michael Henchard.

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Essay describing the author’s views on The Character Michael Henchard

My first impression of the Character Michael Henchard was that he was a fool but as I read on through the book I began to respect him in some way, as he was so honourable while so many bad things were happening.

The Character of Michael Henchard Strikes me as being a Tragic Hero type character and after looking at the definition of a Tragic Hero I was certain that Hardy had written that way.

The Definition that I read was that “In Greek literature, a tragic hero is a well-known and respected individual whose tragedy usually involves some kind of fall from glory. His downfall has been precipitated by his own flaw of character or judgement, some mistake or series of mistakes that has serious consequences. A key element is that the hero's experiences don't simply end with the mistake or catastrophe; true tragic heroes must come to discover or recognise what has happened to them and ultimately pay their ramifications.”

As you can see this description fits Michael Henchard in the Mayor of Casterbridge perfectly. It is even more of a tragedy since there was so much embarrassment and scandal surrounding his fall as an important member of Casterbridge. Also at the beginning of the novel Henchard is a poor man, but he gains fortune and respect when he starts his new life in Casterbridge, giving him the important place that is necessary for a tragic hero. When Henchard is found is Casterbridge, we are told that he is the owner of the largest grain business around. He is also the mayor, and he lives in a mansion. The townspeople speak highly of him, and they especially admire his ability to not drink. His importance is underlined Henchard is now in a high enough place to make a tragic fall.

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“Everybody else, from the Mayor to the washerwoman, shone in new vesture according to means; but Henchard had doggedly retained the fretted and weather-beaten garments of bygone years.” (Page 261 depending on which version you have)

His ragged appearance at a royal procession shows just how deep he had fallen into depression and oblivion.

“Though modern usage of the word ‘hero’ indicates a nobler persona, at its roots a hero is simply the main character of any story, and not necessarily a knight in shining armour.” ()

I think that this is very true with Michael ...

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