How does Thomas Hardy control the reader's response to Donald Farfrae in 'The Mayor of Casterbridge?'

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Thomas Baddeley         10RS        Mr. Grant

How does Thomas Hardy control the reader’s response to Donald Farfrae in ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge?’

Throughout the novel ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’, Thomas Hardy successfully engages the reader in the character of Donald Farfrae. Hardy uses subtle sentences that sway the reader’s view of the character with great effectiveness. Farfrae does some terrible things, but he cannot be held totally responsible for his actions, as he does not knowingly cause turmoil. Consequently, the reader cannot have a detestation of Farfrae who is an entrepreneur and has a great logical mind. However, he is outstandingly naïve when it comes to issues involving human relationships, and he makes awful decisions concerning women. In this essay I hope to give sufficient evidence to back up my theories.

      The first time the reader encounters Donald Farfrae, it is through Elizabeth-Jane’s eyes. She describes the stranger with curiosity and attraction;

…a young man of remarkably pleasant

aspect, who carried in his hand a carpet-bag of the smart floral

pattern prevalent in such articles at that time.

     He was ruddy and of fair countenance, bright-eyes and

Slight in build

The reader shares Elizabeth-Jane’s thoughts and wants to know more about this intriguing new arrival. Having seen Donald Farfrae for only a few moments, Elizabeth-Jane seems to be instantly attracted. Donald goes on to help Henchard with his corn problems and the reader’s curiosity builds again as this stranger seems to have remarkable talents. At this early point in the novel, the reader’s opinion of Farfrae is one of intrigue and admiration.

Donald Farfrae captures the audience of the Three Mariner’s with his unusual and emotive singing, and again we see Elizabeth-Jane’s admiration for Farfrae as she is enraptured by his songs;

     Elizabeth-Jane was fond of music; she could not help

pausing to listen; and the longer she listened the more she was

enraptured…The singer himself grew

emotional, till she could imagine a tear in his eye as the words

went on.

Farfrae received “a burst of applause; and a deep silence which was even more eloquent than the applause.” The audience was truly moved by his beautiful singing that described his Scottish homelands that seemed so full of passion and emotion. But when asked about his country, he shows that he possesses no real passion for Scotland, and reveals his shallow nature to the audience.

     Michael Henchard meets Farfrae at the Three Mariners Inn and offers him a job:

“… you shall manage the corn branch entirely, and receive a commission in addition to salary”.

Donald Farfrae repeatedly declines his offers, which become increasingly extravagant, but finally agrees to work for Henchard. Money is not an important factor in his choice of employment which reveals Farfrae to be a man of true values, whose life is not ruled by money and gives the reader a very positive view on him. Farfrae turns Henchard’s business around and is very successful, which results in Henchard becoming very close to Farfrae and they grow to be inseparable. Farfrae “liked Henchard’s warmth, even if it inconvenienced him; the great difference in their characters adding to the liking. At this point the reader has a liking for Farfrae because he brings joy to Henchard and is doing great things for his business.

     The reader’s perception of Farfrae starts to change when he becomes progressively more popular with the people of Casterbridge, which is underlined when Henchard talks to a young boy in search of Farfrae;

Henchard with the fixed look of thought. “Why do people

always want Mr. Farfrae?”

    “I suppose because they like him so – that’s what they say.”

Join now!

“Oh – I see – that’s what they say – hey? They like him

because he’s cleverer than Mr. Henchard, and because he

knows more; and in short Mr. Henchard can’t hold a candle

to him – hey?”

    “Yes – that’s just it, sir some of it.”

    “Oh there’s more. Of course there’s more. What besides?

Come, here’s a sixpence for a fairing.”

    “And he’s better tempered, and Henchard’s a fool to him,

they say.

Henchard is overcome with jealousy and “never again put his arm upon the young man’s shoulder so as ...

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