Mayor of Casterbridge

( 38 )

Overview

Michael Henchard is an out-of-work hay-trusser who gets drunk at a local fair and impulsively sells his wife Susan and baby daughter. Eighteen years later Susan and her daughter seek him out, only to discover that he has become the most prominent man in Casterbridge. Henchard attempts to make amends for his youthful misdeeds but his unchanged impulsiveness clouds his relationships in love as well as his fortunes in business. Although Henchard is fated to be a modern-day tragic hero, unable to survive in the new ...
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Overview

Michael Henchard is an out-of-work hay-trusser who gets drunk at a local fair and impulsively sells his wife Susan and baby daughter. Eighteen years later Susan and her daughter seek him out, only to discover that he has become the most prominent man in Casterbridge. Henchard attempts to make amends for his youthful misdeeds but his unchanged impulsiveness clouds his relationships in love as well as his fortunes in business. Although Henchard is fated to be a modern-day tragic hero, unable to survive in the new commercial world, his story is also a journey towards love. This edition is the only critically established text of the novel, based on a comprehensive study of the manuscript and Hardy's extensive revisions.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Wonderful, comprehensive edition at reasonable cost to students. The chronology, maps, notes on text, and introduction by the talented Dale Kramer make this edition a great value for the money."--Bonnie W. Epstein, Plymouth State College

John Sutherland University of London
"Of all the great Victorian novelists, Hardy is the one who consistently requires most annotation and careful contextual placing. The density of regional reference, the often complex composition, publication and reception histories, the author's vexed relationship with his age—all call for tactful but learned editing. The noted Victorian scholar Norman Page supplies this admirably for Broadview Press's Mayor of Casterbridge. This is the edition I shall use and prescribe in the future."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780007902118
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/2011

Meet the Author

Thomas Hardy

THOMAS HARDY (1840-1928) was an English novelist and poet.

London-based illustrator ANN KRONHEIMER specialises in children’s publishing, picture and story books, early readers and educational books for infants up to young adults. She uses a dip pen and ink, sometimes with a wash and sometimes just line, combining traditional style with modern imagery.

MAXINE LINNELL lives in Leicester, in the English Midlands, where she writes novels and poetry, mentors other writers, and has a practice as a person-centered psychotherapist. Her novels for teenagers include Breaking the Rules, Vintage, and Closer.

Biography

Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, in the village of Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, a market town in the county of Dorset. Hardy would spend much of his life in his native region, transforming its rural landscapes into his fictional Wesses. Hardy's mother, Jemima, inspired him with a taste for literature, while his stonemason father, Thomas, shared with him a love of architecture and music (the two would later play the fiddle at local dances). As a boy Hardy read widely in the popular fiction of the day, including the novels of Scott, Dumas, Dickens, W. Harrison Ainsworth, and G.P.R. James, and in the poetry of Scott, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and others. Strongly influenced in his youth by the Bible and the liturgy of the Anglican Church, Hardy later contemplated a career in the ministry; but his assimilation of the new theories of Darwinian evolutionism eventually made him an agnostic and a severe critic of the limitations of traditional religion.

Although Hardy was a gifted student at the local schools he attended as a boy for eight years, his lower-class social origins limited his further educational opportunities. At sixteen, he was apprenticed to architect James Hicks in Dorchester and began an architectural career primarily focused on the restoration of churches. In Dorchester Hardy was also befriended by Horace Moule, eight years Hardy's senior, who acted as an intellectual mentor and literary adviser throughout his youth and early adulthood. From 1862 to 1867 hardy worked in London for the distinguished architect Arthur Blomfeld, but he continued to study -- literature, art, philosophy, science, history, the classics -- and to write, first poetry and then fiction.

In the early 1870s Hardy's first two published novels, Desperate Remedies and Under the Greenwood Tree, appeared to little acclaim or sales. With his third novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, he began the practice of serializing his fiction in magazines prior to book publication, a method that he would utilize throughout his career as a novelist. In 1874, the year of his marriage to Emma Gifford of St. Juliot, Cornwall, Hardy enjoyed his first significant commercial and critical success with the book publication of Far from the Madding Crowd after its serialization in the Cornhill Magazine. Hardy and his wife lived in several locations in London, Dorset, and Somerset before settling in South London for three years in 1878. During the late 1870s and early 1880s, Hardy published The Return of the Native, The Trumpet-Major, A Laodicean, and Two on a Tower while consolidating his pace as a leading contemporary English novelist. He would also eventually produce four volumes of short stories: Wessex Tales, A Group of Noble Dames, Life's Little Ironies, and A Changed Man.

In 1883, Hardy and his wife moved back to Dorchester, where Hardy wrote The Mayor of Casterbridge, set in a fictionalized version of Dorchester, and went on to design and construct a permanent home for himself, named Max Gate, completed in 1885. In the later 1880s and early 1890s Hardy wrote three of his greatest novels, The Woodlanders, Tess of the d'Urbevilles, and Jude the Obscure, all of them notable for their remarkable tragic power. The latter two were initially published as magazine serials in which Hardy removed potentially objectionable moral and religious content, only to restore it when the novels were published in book form; both novels nevertheless aroused public controversy for their criticisms of Victorian sexual and religious mores. In particular, the appearance of Jude the Obscure in 1895 precipitated harsh attacks on Hardy's alleged pessimism and immorality; the attacks contributed to his decision to abandon the writing of fiction after the appearance of his last-published novel, The Well-Beloved.

In the later 1890s Hardy returned to the writing of poetry that he had abandoned for fiction thirty years earlier. Wessex Poems appeared in 1898, followed by several volumes of poetry at regular intervals over the next three decades. Between 1904 and 1908 Hardy published a three-part epic verse drama, The Dynasts, based on the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century. Following the death of his first wife in 1912, Hardy married his literary secretary Florence Dugdale in 1914. Hardy received a variety of public honors in the last two decades of his life and continued to publish poems until his death at Max Gate on January 11, 1928. His ashes were interred in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey in London and his heart in Stinsford outside Dorchester. Regarded as one of England's greatest authors of both fiction and poetry, Hardy has inspired such notable twentieth-century writers as Marcel Proust, John Cowper Powys, D. H. Lawrence, Theodore Dreiser, and John Fowles.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Far from the Madding Crowd.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      June 2, 1840
    2. Place of Birth:
      Higher Brockhampon, Dorset, England
    1. Date of Death:
      January 11, 1928
    2. Place of Death:
      Max Gate, Dorchester, England
    1. Education:
      Served as apprentice to architect James Hicks

Read an Excerpt

I

One evening of late summer, before the nineteenth century had reached one-third of its span, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a child, were approaching the large village of Weydon-Priors,1 in Upper Wessex, on foot. They were plainly but not ill clad, though the thick hoar of dust which had accumulated on their shoes and garments from an obviously long journey lent a disadvantageous shabbiness to their appearance just now.

The man was of fine figure, swarthy, and stern in aspect; and he showed in profile a facial angle so slightly inclined as to be almost perpendicular. He wore a short jacket of brown corduroy, newer than the remainder of his suit, which was a fustian2 waistcoat with white horn buttons, breeches of the same, tanned leggings, and a straw hat overlaid with black glazed canvas. At his back he carried by a looped strap a rush basket, from which protruded at one end the crutch of a hay-knife, a wimble for hay-bonds3 being also visible in the aperture. His measured, springless walk was the walk of the skilled countryman as distinct from the desultory shamble of the general labourer; while in the turn and plant of each foot there was, further, a dogged and cynical indifference personal to himself, showing its presence even in the regularly interchanging fustian folds, now in the left leg, now in the right, as he paced along.

What was really peculiar, however, in this couple’s progress, and would have attracted the attention of any casual observer otherwise disposed to overlook them, was the perfect silence they preserved. They walked side by side in such a way as to suggest afar off the low, easy, confidential chat of people full ofreciprocity; but on closer view it could be discerned that the man was reading, or pretending to read, a ballad sheet4 which he kept before his eyes with some difficulty by the hand that was passed through the basket strap. Whether this apparent cause were the real cause, or whether it were an assumed one to escape an intercourse that would have been irksome to him, nobody but himself could have said precisely; but his taciturnity was unbroken, and the woman enjoyed no society whatever from his presence. Virtually she walked the highway alone, save for the child she bore. Sometimes the man’s bent elbow almost touched her shoulder, for she kept as close to his side as was possible without actual contact; but she seemed to have no idea of taking his arm, nor he of offering it; and far from exhibiting surprise at his ignoring silence she appeared to receive it as a natural thing. If any word at all were uttered by the little group, it was an occasional whisper of the woman to the child—a tiny girl in short clothes and blue boots of knitted yarn—and the murmured babble of the child in reply.

The chief—almost the only—attraction of the young woman’s face was its mobility. When she looked down sideways to the girl she became pretty, and even handsome, particularly that in the action her features caught slantwise the rays of the strongly coloured sun, which made transparencies of her eyelids and nostrils and set fire on her lips. When she plodded on in the shade of the hedge, silently thinking, she had the hard, half-apathetic expression of one who deems anything possible at the hands of Time and Chance except, perhaps, fair play. The first phase was the work of Nature, the second probably of civilization.

That the man and woman were husband and wife, and the parents of the girl in arms, there could be little doubt. No other than such relationship would have accounted for the atmosphere of stale familiarity which the trio carried along with them like a nimbus as they moved down the road.

The wife mostly kept her eyes fixed ahead, though with little interest—the scene for that matter being one that might have been matched at almost any spot in any county in England at this time of the year; a road neither straight nor crooked, neither level nor hilly, bordered by hedges, trees, and other vegetation, which had entered the blackened-green stage of colour that the doomed leaves pass through on their way to dingy, and yellow, and red. The grassy margin of the bank, and the nearest hedgerow boughs, were powdered by the dust that had been stirred over them by hasty vehicles, the same dust as it lay on the road deadening their footfalls like a carpet; and this, with the aforesaid total absence of conversation, allowed every extraneous sound to be heard.

For a long time there was none, beyond the voice of a weak bird singing a trite old evening song that might doubtless have been heard on the hill at the same hour, and with the self-same trills, quavers, and breves, at any sunset of that season for centuries untold. But as they approached the village sundry distant shouts and rattles reached their ears from some elevated spot in that direction, as yet screened from view by foliage. When the outlying houses of Weydon-Priors could just be descried, the family group was met by a turnip-hoer with his hoe on his shoulder, and his dinner-bag suspended from it. The reader promptly glanced up.

“Any trade doing here?” he asked phlegmatically, designating the village in his van by a wave of the broadsheet. And thinking the labourer did not understand him, he added, “Anything in the hay-trussing5 line?”

The turnip-hoer had already begun shaking his head. “Why, save the man, what wisdom’s in him that ’a should come to Weydon for a job of that sort this time o’ year?”

“Then is there any house to let—a little small new cottage just a builded, or such like?” asked the other.

The pessimist still maintained a negative. “Pulling down is more the nater of Weydon. There were five houses cleared away last year, and three this; and the volk nowhere to go—no, not so much as a thatched hurdle6 that’s the way o’ Weydon-Priors.”

The hay-trusser, which he obviously was, nodded with some superciliousness. Looking towards the village, he continued, “There is something going on here, however, is there not?”

“Ay. ’Tis Fair Day. Though what you hear now is little more than the clatter and scurry of getting away the money o’ children and fools, for the real business is done earlier than this. I’ve been working within sound o’t all day, but I didn’t go up—not I. ’Twas no business of mine.” The trusser and his family proceeded on their way, and soon entered the Fair-field, which showed standing-places and pens where many hundreds of horses and sheep had been exhibited and sold in the forenoon, but were now in great part taken away. At present, as their informant had observed, but little real business remained on hand, the chief being the sale by auction of a few inferior animals, that could not otherwise be disposed of, and had been absolutely refused by the better class of traders, who came and went early. Yet the crowd was denser now than during the morning hours, the frivolous contingent of visitors, including journeymen7 out for a holiday, a stray soldier or two come on furlough, village shopkeepers, and the like, having latterly flocked in; persons whose activities found a congenial field among the peep-shows, toy-stands, waxworks, inspired monsters, disinterested medical men who travelled for the public good, thimble-riggers,8 nick-nack vendors, and readers of Fate.

Neither of our pedestrians had much heart for these things, and they looked around for a refreshment tent among the many which dotted the down. Two, which stood nearest to them in the ochreous haze of expiring sunlight, seemed almost equally inviting. One was formed of new, milk-hued canvas, and bore red flags on its summit; it announced “Good Home-brewed Beer, Ale, and Cyder.” The other was less new; a little iron stove-pipe came out of it at the back, and in front appeared the placard, “Good Furmity9 Sold Hear.” The man mentally weighed the two inscriptions, and inclined to the former tent.

“No—no—the other one,” said the woman. “I always like furmity; and so does Elizabeth-Jane; and so will you. It is nourishing after a long hard day.”

“I’ve never tasted it,” said the man. However, he gave way to her representations, and they entered the furmity booth forthwith.

A rather numerous company appeared within, seated at the long narrow tables that ran down the tent on each side. At the upper end stood a stove, containing a charcoal fire, over which hung a large three-legged crock, sufficiently polished round the rim to show that it was made of bell-metal.10 A haggish creature of about fifty presided, in a white apron, which, as it threw an air of respectability over her as far as it extended, was made so wide as to reach nearly round her waist. She slowly stirred the contents of the pot. The dull scrape of her large spoon was audible throughout the tent as she thus kept from burning the mixture of corn in the grain, flour, milk, raisins, currants, and what not, that composed the antiquated slop in which she dealt. Vessels holding the separate ingredients stood on a white-clothed table of boards and trestles close by.

The young man and woman ordered a basin each of the mixture, steaming hot, and sat down to consume it at leisure. This was very well so far, for furmity, as the woman had said, was nourishing, and as proper a food as could be obtained within the four seas; though, to those not accustomed to it, the grains of wheat swollen as large as lemon-pips, which floated on its surface, might have a deterrent effect at first.

But there was more in that tent than met the cursory glance; and the man, with the instinct of a perverse character, scented it quickly. After a mincing attack on his bowl, he watched the hag’s proceedings from the corner of his eye, and saw the game she played. He winked to her, and passed up his basin in reply to her nod; when she took a bottle from under the table, slily measured out a quantity of its contents, and tipped the same into the man’s furmity. The liquor poured in was rum. The man as slily sent back money in payment.

He found the concoction, thus strongly laced, much more to his satisfaction than it had been in its natural state. His wife had observed the proceeding with much uneasiness; but he persuaded her to have hers laced also, and she agreed to a milder allowance after some misgiving.

The man finished his basin, and called for another, the rum being signalled for in yet stronger proportion. The effect of it was soon apparent in his manner, and his wife but too sadly perceived that in strenuously steering off the rocks of the licensed liquor-tent she had only got into maelstrom depths here amongst the smugglers.

The child began to prattle impatiently, and the wife more than once said to her husband, “Michael, how about our lodging? You know we may have trouble in getting it if we don’t go soon.”

But he turned a deaf ear to those bird-like chirpings. He talked loud to the company. The child’s black eyes, after slow, round, ruminating gazes at the candles when they were lighted, fell together; then they opened, then shut again, and she slept.

At the end of the first basin the man had risen to serenity; at the second he was jovial; at the third, argumentative; at the fourth, the qualities signified by the shape of his face, the occasional clench of his mouth, and the fiery spark of his dark eye, began to tell in his conduct; he was overbearing—even brilliantly quarrelsome.

The conversation took a high turn, as it often does on such occasions. The ruin of good men by bad wives, and, more particularly, the frustration of many a promising youth’s high aims and hopes and the extinction of his energies by an early imprudent marriage, was the theme.

“I did for myself that way thoroughly,” said the trusser, with a contemplative bitterness that was well-nigh resentful. “I married at eighteen, like the fool that I was; and this is the consequence o’t.” He pointed at himself and family with a wave of the hand intended to bring out the penuriousness of the exhibition.

The young woman his wife, who seemed accustomed to such remarks, acted as if she did not hear them, and continued her intermittent private words on tender trifles to the sleeping and waking child, who was just big enough to be placed for a moment on the bench beside her when she wished to ease her arms. The man continued—

“I haven’t more than fifteen shillings in the world, and yet I am a good experienced hand in my line. I’d challenge England to beat me in the fodder business; and if I were a free man again I’d be worth a thousand pound before I’d done o’t. But a fellow never knows these little things till all chance of acting upon ’em is past.”


From the Paperback edition.

Copyright 2002 by Thomas Hardy
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
General Editors' Preface
Introduction 1
1 The Mayor of Casterbridge, the Persistence of the Past, and the Dance of Desire 21
2 The Mayor of Casterbridge 31
3 Fictitious Families 40
4 The Mayor of Casterbridge: The Fate of Michael Henchard's Character 48
5 The Mayor of Casterbridge: The Bounds of Propriety 80
6 The Minimisation of Sexuality 116
7 The Mayor of Casterbridge: Made of Money 132
8 Haunting Casterbridge or, 'the persistence of the unforeseen' 153
9 Agon in the Marketplace: The Mayor of Casterbridge as Bourgeois Tragedy 170
Further Reading 202
Notes on Contributors 207
Index 209
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 38 )
Rating Distribution

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(14)

4 Star

(17)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Great book with many twists and turns

    Though some parts in the beginning of the book drag on a bit, the plot soon thickens. Each new event is unexpected and adds to the complexity of the writing. Many charchers evolve over the course of the book and you grow attached to them amd want to learn more aout their life. Overall the book is a good read for anyone interested in olden setting books with higher level vocabulary. Very enjoyable book :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Worth the read!

    Diving into The Mayor of Casterbridge with the highest of expectations, I found myself sorely disappointed after finishing the first third (or thereabouts) of the novel. Let's just say that, well, honestly, the first several chapters set the boo...k up for failure. Who doesn't know about Michael Henchard (the titular mayor, though his time in office occupies very little of the substance of the book) and his sale of his wife to an unassuming sailor in the first few pages? Such a scene brims with literary possibility, and Hardy did not disappoint--per se. However, as I read, I could not ward off the nagging dread that Hardy forced many of his plot twists just to keep readers entertained--he did serialize the novel before publishing it in book format, after all. Additionally, the first half of the book, though somewhat necessary to establish the characters, lacks much of the interest of the second half of the narrative. Nevertheless, this said second half is a true gem--so much so, in fact, that it largely makes up for its less-than-sterling earlier counterpart. Certainly worth the read, The Mayor of Casterbridge, at its best, is an excellent character study. Highly recommended!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2009

    One of the Best Summer Reading Books Ever

    As a high school student, I wasn't too excited when I first picked up "The Mayor of Casterbridge" for my required reading. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Though in my opinion it is not a quick read (for there are slow parts in the plot that can be hard to get through), the overall story was extremely touching and memorable. Also, the language was very easy to understand without being too simple. I highly recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2007

    The depravity of man

    Hardy gives a good account of how one evil choice can lead to many others when a person seeks redemption without confession. Michael Henchard wants to improve himself but he never wants to reveal his past. Henchard swears off liquor but he never confesses why he has done so. Thomas Hardy really seems to understand many of our own thought processes as we decide we can make up for our past transgressions if we only really lead a good life. The mayor's past continually comes back on him until he finally has no place to turn. It is not a heart warming feel good book but it is a good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2007

    Essence of the human condition

    If there ever was a story that could be described as one representing the essence of the human condition, The Mayor of Casterbridge would be it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about matters of the heart, and the mistakes people make, some out of good intentions. The English countryside with its cozy feel and people comes alive through Hardy's canvases, and The Mayor of Casterbridge is no exception. This book is British literature at its best.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2006

    Thought provoking

    Here is an excelent book. The story of ones mans selfishness and his ultimate lesson. There is something every human can learn from this book. We are all at one point like the mayor.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2005

    One of the best books I've read all year!

    This is such a wonderful and engrossing story about a man who lives with the consequences of a reckless deed he committed when he was young. It is a tragic novel, but oh, so well written and so compelling! I couldn't put it down! I absolutely loved it!!! This Barnes and Noble edition is superb! The introduction is very informative and the notes are excellent, adding so much to the enjoyment of the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2005

    Incredible!

    This is a fantastic must-read novel. Thomas Hardy gives life to his colorful characters expressing just about every human emotion such as love, hate, jealousy, sorrow, perseverance, forgiveness, and much more!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2005

    PERFECT!

    A beautiful touching tragedy. Hardy creates rich characters in all his works but Michael Henchard exceeds all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Boring.

    Nothing much happened, just lots of talking.

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  • Posted January 30, 2013

    Here there be spoilers!

    I hate when I'm torn by a book. Part of me loved the story because of the characters, the location, and everything they went through. Another part of me hated the story because of the characters and everything that they went through. For example, Michael Henchard. He certainly didn't make it easy for a person to like or root for him. He was ill-tempered, ungrateful, quick to accuse and even quicker to blame. He sold his wife and infant daughter off in a drunken fit, and then had the audacity to be angry at Susan the next day (after he sobered up) for taking his auction of her seriously and running off with Newson. He behaves like a petulant child throughout the majority of the book, constantly blaming others for his failures, hoping for redemption without ever trying to redeem himself in their eyes. Susan Henchard was a minor character, but one that had a fairly large impact on the story. She hoped for much, lied about a lot, and then - rather inconveniently, I'm afraid - died and left Elizabeth-Jane and Michael in a state of confusion. I'd like to add my confusion as to Susan's desire to see Elizabeth married to Farfrae to the mix, as well. She alluded to Elizabeth that she needed to marry Donald at some point, but we never found out why. That's kind of annoying. And the secret that she revealed in her deathbed letter to Michael! I never saw that one coming. Elizabeth-Jane was the one character to escape my scorn and frustration, though she did not come out unscathed. I don't know how she was able to repress her feelings for so many years, especially when she watched Donald go loping off after Lucetta, knowing that he had, not too long ago, all but given his heart to her. Elizabeth was the very embodiment of patience and understanding, with a strong will and determination to make herself better. She was bit gullible (not nearly as much as her mother, though), but she was still likable for it. I, of course, was rooting for her happiness, even though it looked for a long time like it was never going to happen. Donald annoyed me because of his casting-off of Elizabeth-Jane for Lucetta. Lucetta, in turn, annoyed me for chasing after Donald, even though she knew that Elizabeth had a fancy for him. That the two of them could completely forget the facts and retreat into a world of their own creating, all while ignoring Elizabeth's discomfort and heartache, was astounding to me. That Elizabeth chose to put on a happy face and carry on as if nothing was amiss was even more surprising. Or, maybe not. When I look back at how she handled herself from the minute she was introduced, I guess her choices weren't so surprising. She was a selfless soul, eager for others to be happy, and able to amuse herself by watching their doings. Elizabeth-Jane definitely was the character I cared about most. There was a tiny bit of redemption for Michael at the very end, when we find that Henchard had an impact on at least one person (Abel), but I think it was too little, too late. There were more than a few instances where I drew parallels to a Shakespeare drama, owing to the many challenges the characters had to live through. The dramas weren't incredibly unbelievable (except, maybe for the premise of Susan being sold to Newson), but they were stiff enough to have the characters grow, or fold under the pressures. All in all, it was an entertaining story. There are just a few questions that remain unanswered, and I felt like the ending

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2012

    Ill have to read it agaib when Im older...

    Really painful ending although I know I should sympathize with Mr. Henchard more. Morr life experience required to really appreciate wht Hardy is saying.

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  • Posted April 19, 2012

    a general drama of pain.

    Though I expected sadness and misery, I was hoping for something more profound at the ending than "Happiness was but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain."

    This is a many chaptered narrative that shows how the results of good intentioned-or-not mistakes can lead to personal ruin. The reader also will lose all respect for the main character.

    A problem with Victorian Period literary giants I have is their long sentences. I counted one at 82 words.

    Would only recommend this to someone who likes a challenging read (big words and colloquial language) and who doesn't mind a depressing, predictable story.

    "The sun was resting on the hill like a drop of blood on an eyelid." Best line.

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  • Posted April 9, 2012

    Though I expected sadness and misery, I was hoping for some

    Though I expected sadness and misery, I was hoping for something more profound at the ending than "Happiness was but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain."

    This is a many chaptered narrative that shows how the results of good intentioned-or-not mistakes can lead to personal ruin. The reader also will lose all respect for the main character.

    A problem with Victorian Period literary giants I have is their long sentences. I counted one at 82 words.

    Would only recommend this to someone who likes a challenging read (big words and colloquial language) and who doesn't mind a depressing, predictable story.

    "The sun was resting on the hill like a drop of blood on an eyelid." Best line.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Not an easy read but well worth it

    I first read this book in middle school. It took me a while to finish but the questions it raises are universal and only more important as we age.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2009

    A Book to Love and Hate

    This book is the synthesis of masterful writing, character development, and brilliant description. In itself, the book deserves the highest opinions amongst readers as one of the most enveloping reads Victorian England could have produced. However, the characters are so far from this beautiful perfection, that the contrast is angering and very frustrating, especially when we see the failings of the human heart, of the birth of weakness in the strong, of arrogant usurpation of the old by the new. It is a book you love to hate or hate to love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Challenge to Your Empathy

    The genius of "The Mayor of Casterbridge" is in depicting a character you start out loathing, who improves himself only to be defamed when his past catches up with him. The titular character is a difficult person to empathize with and is one of the greater reasons why my interest was captured. Except for perhaps Humbert in "Lolita" (Nabakov) and the main character in "Disgrace" (Coetzee), there may not be a more difficult protagonist to like.

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  • Posted February 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Chocked with Suspense

    In the opening of this book, Michael Henchard, is introduced as a man who is focused solely on his shortcomings with wealth and his fate to be tied to his family whom he views as a hindrance to him.

    Very early on in the story Hardy creates a scene in which Henchard is coaxed into public drunkenness where he proceeds to sell his wife and child to anyone willing to partake in his auction. The spectacle, however, is shortlived and before long Henchard is dreaming in his chair. The following morning as he rises he finds his loved ones missing and much to his dismay he soon recognizes his error.

    This initial act continues to play a role in the character's conduct and motives throughout the events that follow. Because Henchard is never able to recover from his past wrongdoings, misfortune seems to shadow everything he happens upon.

    As Donald Farfrae comes into the story it becomes clear from his successes that he has been introduced to foil the obscure Michael Henchard. This overt contradiction only adds to the downward spiral; hence in every area that Henchard has failed Farfrae has flourished.

    With a handful of seemingly ordinary characters, Hardy has woven an intricate narration of scandal, revenge, and ultimately atonement. This book is an absolute classic!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2005

    eloquently written mumbo jumbo

    this novel was originally written in installments in a magazine; perhaps it would be a stronger story if read in that manor. the major flaw with 'mayor of casterbridge' is the lack of a climax. the first chapter gave me hope, but the rest was like a bad sequel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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