‘The business of the poet and novelist is to show the sorriness underlying the grandest things, and the grandeur underlying the sorriest.’ ; Thomas Hardy said this upon completion of the novel The Mayor of Casterbridge. Thomas Henchard, the main character in his novel, becomes the example to illustrate this idea. Henchard is at one point the most powerful person in a small town called Casterbridge. He is the wealthiest person and commands the most respect, but Hardy shows some terrible characteristics of Henchard. Because of Henchard’s pride and ego, he loses his fame and fortune and becomes a part of the lowest working class. There, while exhibiting some of his cruder qualities, he also shows signs of true affection to others.
While Henchard is the mayor, he scolds the late Abel for being tardy. Henchard is in Abel’s hut, and demands the following from Abel who is just waking up: ” Out of bed, sir, and off to the granary, or you leave my employ today! ‘Tis to teach ye a lesson. March on; never mind your britches”; (169)! Even though Abel does deserve a punishment, he is a grown man and such punishments like those fall into the category of cruel and unusual. A simple deduction in his pay would have been suitable, Henchard however decides to humiliate him. Hardy is showing that, even in the most powerful people, human flaws make people do the worst of things. Hardy further shows this in Henchard’s relationship with Donald Farfrae.
In Thomas Hardys The Mayor of Casterbridge, the author devotes a large amount of energy and attention to making the setting of the novel as detailed as possible. The city of Casterbridge can almost serve as a character on its own, having its own personality and affecting other characters in the novel. Hardy uses the setting as a literary device to strengthen the personalities and complexities of ...
Farfrae is a young Scottish man that Henchard woes to become the manager of Henchard’s wheat business. As time passes, Henchard becomes wealthier because of Farfrae’s talents. Farfrae becomes the integral part of Henchard’s business. Without Farfrae, Henchard’s business would collapse. Henchard knows this, but his pride gets in the way. Farfrae plans to hold a carnival on the day of a festival, but, when Henchard finds out about this, Henchard decides to imitate Farfrae by having his own which is much bigger and lavish than Farfrae’s.
On the day of the festival, it rains heavily. Henchard’s carnival is canceled while Farfrae’s remains because of an elaborate tent structure he creates. People call Henchard, ‘A man must be a headstrong stun poll’; (177).
A synonym for a stun poll is a blockhead. Henchard hears comments such as these and feels belittled. Henchard’s pride can not handle such insults this causes him to fire Farfrae.
This while drawn out is a prime example of how Henchard’s grandeur and reputation can be tarnished by petty jealousy. While Henchard shows his flaws when he is rich, he shows respectability and honesty while being poor. In his lowest point where he declares bankruptcy, Henchard, not only does not hide his possessions, he shows the creditors things worth some money that the creditors do not know about such as a golden watch. These are the words of praise given by the commissioner to Henchard about his honesty: ” Well though the case is a desperate one, I am bound to admit that I have never met a debtor who behaved more fairly. I’ve proved the balance-sheet to be as honestly made out as it could possibly be… ‘; (293).
Henchard is at his lowest point right now, but he displays some great qualities, which make him respectable. This respectability is further shown afterwards when he says to himself, ” Tisn’t mine by rights. Why the devil didn’t they take it (the watch)? – I don’t want what don’t belong to me’; (293).
Henchard then sells the watch and gives the money earned to one of his smaller creditors. Even when Henchard is in desperate need of money, he still gives what little he has to the creditors.
Hardy is showing the idea that there is grandeur in the sorriest of places. Henchard could not be in a sorrier of places. Although the honorable and respectable things Henchard does may be harder to find, they are still there. Though out The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy tries to convey the sorriness in the most regal places, and the greatness in the most wretched of places. In the character Michael Henchard, the reader sees how quickly one’s judgment of Henchard changes. We applaud his conduct with the commissioners yet we are irritated by his behavior to Abel.
Should We All Move To Moorsetown? Why do people choose to live where they do? With a country as big and diverse as the United States is it possible that most people can agree on the best place to live? Money Magazine and CNN/Money (2005) just published their Best Places to Live 2005 study. According to Money, Moorsetown, New Jersey is the best place to live in the whole country. Money says ...
This if nothing else shows how complex we really are.