The Author and His/Her Times He was born in 1840, in the English countryside near Dorchester in the South of England. He died in 1928. This novel was published in 1886. Hardy's birthplace inspired the setting and themes of many of his novels, and Dorchester served as the model for Castorbridge in this novel. The basic pattern he follows in writing novels is the entanglements and cross-purposes resulting form conflicting love affairs, which is the same for this novel, as well. The public outcry over Hardy's two final and perhaps most famous novels, Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, caused him to become disillusioned with novels in 1896; he thus wrote only poetry for the rest of his career. Hardy wished to be remembered primarily for his poetry, but his novels remain an important contribution to the canon of English literature. The main distinguishing characteristics of Hardy's novels are his tremendous insight into the multifaceted personalities of his characters and his presentation of great tragedy.
Form, Structure, and Plot The novel is organized by chapters. It has 45 chapters and is 432 pages long. There are very few flashbacks. One of the main characters, Michael Henchard, has a stream of consciousness that bothers him constantly. He has a bad attitude towards people or things he does not care for and shows it. After he shows it, his conscious is paranoid of what he should have or should not have said. Hardy's foreshadowing contributes to the sense of anticipation. Henchard's wife's, Mrs. Henchard, hair color is different from her daughter, Elizabeth. This foreshadows the revelation that Elizabeth is not Henchard's daughter. Hardy also foreshadows the end of the friendship between Henchard and his friend, Farfrae, by remarking that, "the seed that was to lift the foundation of this friendship was at that moment taking root in a chink of its structure."Ã¯Â¿Â½ Later on, Henchard takes a walk by the river which foreshadows another grimmer walk he will take towards the end of the novel, in which he will come close to committing suicide. Also, the fact that he observes the shadow of the gallows foreshadows his own death. When the novel makes a reference to Mrs. Henchard's death, it is foreshadowing Lucetta's, FarFrae's later wife and Henchard's ex fiancÃÂÃÂ©, own death. There is parallel between the rise of Farfrae and the fall of Henchard in the novel. As Farfrae becomes increasingly influential, Henchard becomes less so. The novel follows the form known as chiasmus, in which one main character rises to prosperity while the other falls. The introduction of characters, first by description and action and then by name, is one of the factors that create the sense of suspense in Hardy's novel. The reader is not given any information about the character's intentions except through their own actions and speech. This contributes to the suspense as well. There are many surprising moments in this novel. One is when we find out that Henchard has a girlfriend that he is supposed to marry. Another is when we find out that his girlfriend has moved into the city. This has a complex plot. There are so many things going on at once. Mrs. Henchard come back to her husband after he sold her, Henchard has to find a way to break off his engagement, Lucetta comes to the town, Henchard finds out that Elizabeth is not his real daughter, her real father comes while Elizabeth thinks that Henchard is her father, Farfrae and Henchard's friendship problems, Lucetta and Elizabeth both like Farfrae, and Farfrae ends up marrying both of them. About 30-40 years is covered in this novel, from when Elizabeth is not yet one until she marries and lives a happy life with Farfrae. The beginning and end are very different. In the beginning, Mrs. Henchard and Mr. Henchard were together. In the end, they are both dead. The location is different as well. At first they are at a carnival, then they are near Castorbridge. Mr. Henchard wanted to get rid of his wife in the beginning, however, in the end he longed for her or someone to be by his side. A comparable thing is Mr. Henchard's attitude. It was the same all through the book. There was not much similarity from the beginning and the end.
Setting This novel occurs in a large village of Weydon-Priors, in Upper Wessex, and later moves to Castorbridge, where most of the novel takes place. It took place before the present century had reached its thirtieth year. Setting is important to this novel. The setting of Henchard's house in the beginning is reversed at the end. Instead of him having his own house, Farfrae has it. The setting of the two parties that Henchard and Farfrae throw are very significant because no one when to Henchard's party, everyone went to Farfrae's party. Castorbridge is described in deep detail to catch the mood. P.70 "Castorbridge had sentiment--Castorbridge had romance."Ã¯Â¿Â½ When Farfrae first came to Castorbridge, this is what he thought of it. P.36 "What an old-fashioned place it seems to be!"Ã¯Â¿Â½ Elizabeth notices when she first comes to Castorbridge. She notices that everything is all huddled together and is shut in by a square wall of trees like a plot of garden ground by a box edging. Its squareness was the characteristic which struck the eye of anyone that came to Castorbridge. Castorbridge announced old Rome in every street, alley, and precinct. It looked like Rome and it concealed dead men of Rome. There was an Amphitheatre in Castorbridge. P.92 "It was to Castorbridge what the ruined Coliseum is to modern Rome, and was nearly of the same magnitude."Ã¯Â¿Â½ This is where Mrs. Henchard met Henchard the first time after he sold them. It was a place for happy lovers. This is symbolic because they were lovers and they are reuniting again in a lover place. The setting and mood of the Amphitheatre is romantic, especially since it was at night when the two met.
Point of View This novel is in the third point of view. However, there is also a detached narrator who is not involved in the events of the novel. He or she does not have access to the characters' thoughts or to what they do in private, which means that the narrator is not omniscient. The narrator is, in a way, limited omniscient. He sometimes sees things as if he was the character himself. This also contributes to part of the suspense of the novel. It is written in recent perspective, present tense. This affects the plot, theme, and conflict. It does because it is very hard to determine what will happen next because the narrator changes views. Sometimes he will explain everything, but sometimes he tells the reader what is happening through another character. This way, the reader cannot know everything of what is happening.
Character q Michael Henchard "" Henchard is the protagonist and main character of the novel. At the beginning of the novel, he sells his wife and daughter to a sailor. In the next twenty years he becomes a very successful corn merchant and the mayor of Castorbridge. Over the course of the story, however, he loses his status, his money, and finally his life. He is young in the beginning of the novel, but of course ages as the years go by. He looks to be in his forties when Mrs. Henchard meets him again. While he was influential he walked and sat with dignity. He had a heavy frame, large features, and a commanding voice. His general build was rather coarse instead of compact. He has a rich complexion, a flashing black eye, and dark, bushy brows and hair. When he laughed, his large mouth parted so far back one could see all his white teeth. However, when his role changes with Farfrae, he becomes like a bum. He does not shave and he wears the same clothes until they become rags on him. He becomes somewhat sluggish. He has a quick temper. When he likes something or someone he is the type to show it. He treats people so kind and is willing to help them in any way if there are in his favor. However, if he dislikes someone he also shows it. He treats them rudely and speaks roughly to them. He likes to be the one in charge and well known around the area as the best man. He is a round character. He is also dynamic. The characters personality is described through the author's physical description. On P.83-84 (stapled), you can see how nice Henchard is to people he likes well. Farfrae is about to go see the world but Henchard wants him to stay and work for him. Henchard himself reveals this. Another quote is on P.103-104. This quote shows traits and values. He had just confided in Farfrae about his wife who had come to find him and his fiancÃÂÃÂ©. He knows that he has to tell his fiancÃÂÃÂ© that he cannot marry her because his wife came back, but he asks Farfrae for some helpful advice. When he says, "I feel I should like to treat the second, no less than the first, as kindly as a man can in such a case!"Ã¯Â¿Â½ This shows that he cares for and knows that he has to somehow take care of both. He has responsibility.
q Donald Farfrae - The Scotsman who arrives in Castorbridge at the same time Elizabeth and Mrs. Henchard. He impresses Henchard with his knowledge of the corn trade, so Henchard asks him to stay in Castorbridge to work for him. He agrees, eventually taking over the town's corn trade, owning and living in Henchard's house, becoming the town's new mayor, and marrying Elizabeth. He is also married briefly to Lucetta. He was a young man of respectably pleasant aspect. He was fair and ruddy, bright-eyed, and slight in build. He sings and dances very well. He is the type that is very good in almost anything that he does. He is very nice and tries to help anyone who needs it. He does not have a temper and when he becomes mad does not express it all the way. He stays calm. He is also a round character. He is dynamic as well. His personality is revealed through the author's physical description. P.98, we see that Farfrae is a very hardworking man. Even Henchard himself sees it; he is the one who noticed it. Farfrae is always diligent and hardworking. That is why he becomes so respectable in the town and ends up replacing Henchard. On P.147-148, Farfrae refuses his first customer. He says, "He was once my friend, and it's not for me to take business from him."Ã¯Â¿Â½ He has respect for Henchard although Henchard had rudely fired him. Farfrae is too nice and has too much respect, which is good. Although Henchard is talking bad about Farfrae, Farfrae tries to keep Henchard in business. However, since everyone really likes doing business with Farfrae, Henchard loses his business.
q Elizabeth-Jane - The daughter of Susan Henchard, she is also thought to be Michael Henchard's daughter. Near the end of the novel, however, we learn that she is actually the daughter of the sailor to whom Mr. Henchard sold his wife and the original Elizabeth-Jane. She is a young lady, about 18 years old when she arrives at Castorbridge. She is completely possessed of that ephemeral precious essence youth, which itself is beauty. She tries to please everyone and is very kind and gentle. She is very gullible as well. She is a round and dynamic character. Her personality is revealed through her actions, feelings, thoughts, and speech. P.56-57, Elizabeth tries to help her mother out by going to offer some help at the hotel. She is very willing to do anything her mother or others ask to do. Another reason she offered to help was so she could see Farfrae; she starts to like him. On P.171, Elizabeth says, "Ã¯Â¿Â½If I am not well, informed it shall be by no fault of my own."Ã¯Â¿Â½ After Henchard found out that she was not his real daughter he started treating her cruelly. He could not stand how she talked and how she was not very smart. In order to please him she was always studying so hard. She blames herself if she does not know anything. Elizabeth tries to please everybody, and she wants to. That was the way she was raised.
q Lucetta "" She meets Henchard in Jersey during the period when he believes his wife is dead. She and Henchard expect to marry until Susan Henchard's return, and Henchard's remarriage to her hinders their plans. After Susan's death, Lucetta comes to Castorbridge to convince Henchard to marry her, but instead she falls in love with and marries Farfrae. When she first arrives in Castorbridge, she employs Elizabeth as a companion. Lucetta and Henchard had love letters that they wrote to each other. Henchard kept them. After Lucetta fell in love with Farfrae, she tried to get them so keep everything a secret. Farfrae did not know that she was Henchard's fiancÃÂÃÂ©. Somehow the letters got out and everyone found out. Lucetta died from a panic attack. She was scared that when Farfrae found out he would not love her anymore. She was very beautiful and rich. Her eyes were arrested by the artistic perfection of the lady's appearance. She is a round and dynamic character. She seems to be the type that does things behind other people's back. She is a slick person. Her personality is revealed through her own feelings, actions, thoughts, and speech. On P.192, she is writing a letter to Henchard. She got Elizabeth to come live with her and be her companion. In the letter, she has a reason for doing it although Elizabeth does not know. It was to give Henchard an excuse to come visit Elizabeth, in the process, get acquainted with her. She is very smart and uses her head. On P.271-272, Henchard talks to Lucetta about getting married. In this passage we see again how she is a slick person. She married Farfrae without telling anyone. This way Henchard could not stop it and she would not have to marry Henchard. She thinks ahead and is ready to act at any time.
Minor characters q Susan Henchard is Michael Henchard's wife. Along with her daughter, she is sold to a sailor at the beginning of the novel. After the sailor supposedly dies, she finds Henchard in Castorbridge and remarries him.
q Newson is the sailor who buys Susan and Elizabeth fro Michael Henchard. Susan and Elizabeth believe that he is lost at sea, but near the end of the novel, he returns to Castorbridge to find his daughter.
q Jopp is the man Henchard intends to hire as his assistant before meeting Farfrae. When Jopp shows up late for his appointment, Henchard tells him that he has already hired Farfrae. Henchard later hires Jopp after Farfrae starts his own business. One day he asks Jopp to deliver a packet of love letters to Lucetta. Jopp gets sidetracked to an inn and reads the letters. His reading of the letters eventually leads to the event that causes Lucetta's death.
Theme The major theme was Friends can be your worst enemy. Henchard and Farfrae are close friends, but because of work become hateful enemies. This can happen to anyone. If someone's friend took over their business, there is sure to be some sparks between their friendship. Another major theme is Choosing between right and wrong is your choice only. During the novel there are many choices that all the characters have to make. They have to choose right or wrong. Of course, they all choose what they want to, even if they know that it is wrong. But when the consequences come, they regret what they chose if it was a wrong choice. Everyone is like that. That is being human. Another minor theme is that a hard working person will get rewards. Farfrae was hardworking from the start and he replaced everything that Henchard was. Elizabeth was hard working and eventually got what she wanted, she got to marry Farfrae. Jopp was hard working and also got what he wanted. Lucetta would not give him an open job. Therefore he wanted to do something to pay her back. He worked hard to get the love letters out in the public and Lucetta died. Although that is a wrong thing, he got his reward.
Conflict There are so many conflicts going on in this novel. The first conflict is that Henchard sold his family and tries to find them but can't. Twenty years later his wife finds him. He has no choice but to remarry her and take care of her and his daughter. The second conflict is that he is supposed to marry his fiancÃÂÃÂ©, who think that Mrs. Henchard is dead. Another conflict is that he does not know that Elizabeth is not his real daughter. His daughter died a long time ago. The main conflict is between Farfrae and Henchard. Farfrae end up taking everything Henchard owned, even Elizabeth. This is the climax of the novel. Another conflict occurs when Lucetta comes to Castorbridge. She is supposed to marry Henchard but she falls in love with Farfrae. All the conflicts build on and initiate each other, making the story filled with suspense. All the conflicts are resolved. Most of them are all resolved by death. Henchard, Mrs. Henchard, and Lucetta die. Elizabeth and Farfrae live together and everything is fixed and out in the open. The main conflict connects with the major theme, friends can turn into your worst enemy. Farfrae and Henchard's roles switch almost perfectly. Farfrae, of course, is probably happy that he is doing well, but feels bad for Henchard. However, Henchard, on the other hand, is bitter and jealous, and hates Farfrae extremely.
Significance of the title The title is The Mayor of Castorbridge. The title explains that the novel is about the mayor or Castorbridge. This novel is about Henchard, who is the mayor. There is no message that is conveyed in this title. There is also no change in the meaning of the title as well. The novel is about the mayor. First it's all about Henchard, then it's all about Farfrae, the two mayors of Castorbridge.
Tone In this novel, the author's attitude is not really noticeable. He does not really have an attitude. All the author does is explain the situations of what is going on. The author's attitude is most likely formal and neutral. The tone seems to be somewhat smooth. It seems as the author tries to make situations seem not as harsh by using smooth language. "That laugh was not encouraging to strangers; and hence it may have been well that it was rarely heard."Ã¯Â¿Â½ This quote is saying that Henchard's laugh is horrible and would scare strangers away. However, the author makes the diction sound a certain way. Instead of thinking that he has an ugly laugh, we think that although he might not have a nice laugh, it is ok to hear once in a while. That is much better that thinking that Henchard has a horrible laugh and no one wants to hear it.
Diction and Syntax P. 58 Syntax "" The sentences are predominately simple but long. "Moreover, this being at a time before"ÃÂ¦.in connection therewith."Ã¯Â¿Â½ This is the longest sentence in this passage. The level of formality is not very high, but it does have a little extent of formalism. There are no fragments. There is variety to the sentence patterns, not much though. The author uses syntax to make this passage slow together. Everything just connects and flows smoothly. The author uses mostly all commas to create noticeable pauses.
Diction "" the language is in between formal and neutral. I think that the language is flowery. There is so much descriptiveness. It is concrete, wordy, strong, and random. " Elizabeth-Jane, though hungry, willingly postponed serving herself awhile, and applied to the cook in the kitchen, whence she brought forth the tray of supper"ÃÂ¦."Ã¯Â¿Â½ You can see how wordy this sentence is. There are no cacophonous sounds. I think that there are some euphonious sounds because of the sentence just flows. There is no dialogue in this passage.
P.139-140 Syntax "" The sentences are predominately simple and medium length. It has no fragments. There is much variety to the sentence patterns. The author uses dashes and commas to create pauses, "Mr. Farfrae's time as my manager is drawing to a close "" isn't is, Farfrae?"Ã¯Â¿Â½ Diction "" The language is pretty informal and technical common. It is also concrete and concise. The way that Henchard fires Farfrae is every concise. It is strong and random. Diction indicates that the people speaking have a good education. This passage has more cacophonous words than euphonious. There is no alliteration. Much dialogue is used. It is different than the narrative voice because it is more interesting and it is in quotes. Each person speaks differently, which is why the dialogue is different from character to character.
P.390 Syntax "" The sentences are predominately simple and long. No fragments. There is not much variety. The sentences are mostly the same. They are loose. Like the first passage, the syntax is smooth and flowing. There are not really any noticeable pauses.
Diction "" it is informal. The language is both flowery and common. It is concrete, wordy, and a little bland. There is no pattern. This passage has almost nothing. There is no dialogue and no alliteration and cacophonous or euphonious sounds.
Syntax "" the theme of these three passages set a smooth tone. All the sentences are mostly very long and flowing. It changes when there is dialogue, however. That way it is easier to notice when different people are talking.
Diction "" the diction in all if these passages was pretty much neutral or informal and flowery. This author uses good diction. Everything was concrete, there was no abstract passage. Everything was at random, none of the sentences were part of a pattern. Diction helps define the characters and how they talk. The reader can distinguish between the characters by knowing how that character talks.
Imagery There was not much imagery I this novel. The only imagery things in this book appealed to sight. Everything was sight. "He thought it looked unusually good for her to possess."Ã¯Â¿Â½ There were no recurrent images.
Symbolism There was some symbolism in this novel. The town makes two fake stick people who symbolize Lucetta and Henchard. Later Henchard sees his stick figure hanging from the bridge. That symbolizes that he will lose his life soon. There is a bridge that one has to cross in order to get to Castorbridge. This symbolizes a connection between two towns. Sometimes the other town came into Castorbridge. The love letters represent Lucetta's and Henchard's relationship. Henchard gives Mrs. Henchard some money when she first comes to Castorbridge. That money symbolizes the money that he received when he sold her and his daughter. Symbolism was everywhere in this novel.
Figurative Language There is allusion when the novel talks about the Amphitheatre. It was to Castorbridge what the ruined Coliseum is to modern Rome. This also fits a metaphor. There were many synecdoches. Bide means stay where you are. Another example of a synecdoche is walked together meaning engaged. An apostrophe, Elizabeth talked to herself as if there were two people to encourage her to go on and work hard. Another example is how Henchard always talks or thinks to something but answers himself.
Ironic devices Situational Irony "" Henchard tells his Elizabeth that he is her father. Right after he finds out that he is not her father and that his child had died.
Verbal Irony "" Elizabeth writes a letter to Farfrae, it seems like Henchard wrote it though, and tells him not to see her anymore. However, she really does want him to see her.
Paradox "" The reader knows about Lucetta being Henchard's fiancÃÂÃÂ©. Farfrae does not know. He doesn't even find out until the last minute when Lucetta dies.
Sarcasm - Henchard is full of sarcasm everywhere he goes. Towards the end of the novel, almost everything that Henchard says is part of sarcasm.
Understatement "" Henchard made an understatement. He mentioned to Farfrae once that he thinks that Farfrae was about to take over his job. He did not realize how true that statement was.
Memorable Quotes "I can think of no other as my father, except my father."Ã¯Â¿Â½ Elizabeth said that to Henchard. I think this is very true. You only have one father.
"If I am not well informed it shall be by no fault of my own."Ã¯Â¿Â½ This is responsibility. It's very true. If you do not know something, it is your fault for not looking it up.
"I cannot hurt the trade of a man who's been so kind to me."Ã¯Â¿Â½ I wish more people thought like this. If friends get in a fight they try to hurt each other and do not even think about what they are doing.
"If you touch that money, I and this girl go with the man. Mind, it is a joke no longer."Ã¯Â¿Â½ I like this because it shows power. This is when Henchard is selling his family. Mrs. Henchard did the right thing, she should not have put up with that.
Additional Comments I enjoyed reading this novel very much. It was so interesting. There were so many conflicts going on all at the same time that I could not put the book down. I have not enjoyed reading a book and really enjoying it like this in a long time. I recommend it to anyone who it interested in books that just do not stop because there are so many things going on. I do not have any questions. Everything was pretty understandable. Some of the strengths were that there were many words that I did not know and had to look up. It helped me to learn more vocabulary. I think that the novel was less difficult to read and understand than the instructor rated it. It was not hard to understand what was going on. The only hard part was looking up the vocabulary. After reading this book, other not so interesting books will probably seem really unexciting to read.