Pain is a predominant theme throughout Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge. Hardy describes how many of the character's experience pain through relationships and how each of them deal with their suffering. Both Michael Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane Newson experience difficulty with their relationships, which causes them to suffer from painful events in their lives. They are alike in that they both suffer from the "problem of pain" but they differ in the way they choose to view pain and how to cope with it.
Michael Henchard bears a great deal of pain throughout the book. The pain stems from all the mistakes he has made throughout his life such as selling his family, mismanaging his business, and also when the furmity-woman confesses and Newson reappears. Henchard consistently blames the pain these incidents have caused on unlucky fate. Henchard says, "I am to suffer, I perceive." He decides to accept what he believes is his fate and bear the pain without solving it.
Henchard is never able to rid himself of all his pain because he isn't able to let go of the past and relinquish his failures and unfulfilled desires.
The first mistake that brings pain to Henchard is selling his wife and daughter to the sailor, Newson. He regrets his alcohol-induced decision horribly and searches all over for his family. He is never able to find them and settles in Casterbridge. When Susan finally finds Henchard, they get back together and remarry. Susan also brings Elizabeth-Jane, who Henchard believes to be their daughter. Being reunited with his family brings him great joy, however, Susan quickly becomes ill and dies and Henchard is left alone again. Not only does his wife die, but he finds out from Susan's letter that Elizabeth-Jane is not Henchard's daughter but is...