The Mayor of Casterbridge - 'Michael Henchard's life was a series of disasters that led to self-destruction; we can have no sympathy for him.' Discuss.

Authors Avatar

Laura Pickard 11/1                                     English Coursework.                          07.09.04.

The Mayor of Casterbridge

‘Michael Henchard’s life was a series of disasters that led to self-destruction; we can have no sympathy for him.’ Discuss.

        Whilst studying ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ it is noticeable from a fairly early stage that the title statement is ambivalent. We can clearly see that he suffered a great number of disasters, but he also achieved success to a higher level than most.

        When looking at his position before arriving in Casterbridge and for a while prior to his status boost, it is clear just how much his status has grown. When Michael arrived in Casterbridge he was a ‘journeyman hay-trusser.’ From this position he managed to work on his status Worth explaining how until he was a churchwarden, magistrate and the town Mayor.  


        The biggest disaster that Michael experienced was when he sold his wife, Susan, in Mrs Goodenough’s grand furmity tent at Weydon Fair. He consumed several portions of smuggled rum-laced furmity, each one a little stronger. After three it was said that he was argumentative but still had more and eventually sold his wife to a sailor. What motivated the sale? What frame of mind was he in? Use supporting quotation. You need to explain events, Laura, not just mention that they happened. Analysis is the key to success. The day after, realising what he had done, he made a vow not to drink for as many years as he had lived to that day – twenty-one.

Join now!

        Many years later when Susan arrived in Casterbridge she saw him at… ‘the great public dinner for gentle people’… where next to each person was a beer glass, apart from Michael whose tumbler contained water. This was how Susan discovered a hint about his vow.

        Michael never really had any true friends in Casterbridge and this may explain why he vigorously befriended Donald Farfrae when he arrived. Some may think that one of the disasters that Michael made was how he confided in Farfrae, even though he was a stranger. However, I do not think that we can fault ...

This is a preview of the whole essay