An Analysis of the Mayor of Casterbridge

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An Analysis of The Mayor of Casterbridge

The plot of The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy, can often be confusing and difficult to follow. The pages of this novel are filled with sex, scandal, and alcohol, but it provides for a very interesting and unique story. It all begins one day in the large Wessex village of Weydon-Priors. Michael Henchard, a young hay-trusser looking for work, enters the village with his wife and infant daughter. What follows next, is certainly a little out of the ordinary, and this book provides and interesting plot, that is sure to brighten up any boring day.

Michael Henchard, looking for something to drink, enters into a tent where an old woman is selling furmity, a liquid pudding made of boiled wheat, eggs, sugar, and spices. Henchard consumes too many bowls of furmity spiked with rum. Feeling trapped by his marriage and under the influence, Henchard threatens to auction his family. The auction begins as a kind of cruel joke, but Susan Henchard in anger retaliates by leaving with a sailor who makes the highest bid. Henchard regrets his decision the next day, but he is unable to find his family.

Exactly eighteen years pass. Susan and her daughter Elizabeth-Jane come back to the fair, seeking news about Henchard. The sailor has been lost at sea, and Susan is returning to her "rightful" husband. At the infamous furmity tent, they learn Henchard has moved to Casterbridge, where he has become a prosperous grain merchant and even mayor. When Henchard learns that his family has returned, he is determined to right his old wrong. He devises a plan for courting and marrying Susan again, and for adopting her daughter.

A young Scotsman named Donald Farfrae enters Casterbridge on the same day as Susan and Elizabeth-Jane. Henchard takes an instant liking to the total stranger and convinces Farfrae to stay on in Casterbridge as his right-hand man. Henchard even tells Farfrae the two greatest secrets of his life: the sale of...
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