Mayor of Casterbridge - Character Is Fate

Only available on StudyMode
  • Topic: Thomas Hardy, Thomas Hardy's Wessex, The Mayor of Casterbridge
  • Pages : 3 (1050 words )
  • Download(s) : 651
  • Published : May 12, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
Fate is the predetermination of events beyond a person’s control. The quote, “A man’s character is his fate” (Olney 118), proposed by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, supports the idea that a determined end is the outcome of one’s character. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, among other various works, attest to this philosophy. Hardy’s protagonist Michael Henchard, in contrast to his counterpart Donald Farfrae, collapses from greatness to devastation with a combination of free will and coincidence. As Henchard falls, Farfrae rises to greatness because of his character. Through Michael Henchard’s actions and choices enforced by his emotions, Thomas Hardy demonstrates that one’s character determines his fate in The Mayor of Casterbridge.

In the beginning of the novel, Hardy introduces Michael Henchard as a crude, ill-tempered man; “and had assumed that, being out of work, he was, as a consequence, out of temper with the world, and society, and his nearest kin” (17). In addition to his ill-tempered character, one serious flaw that Henchard possesses is his impulsive choices that he makes based on his emotions. In the first chapter of the novel, Hardy ensures that this flaw is obvious to the reader as Henchard, drunk and angry, sells his wife Susan, and his daughter Elizabeth-Jane, for five guineas at a county fair (19). Anger, stemmed from an unhappy marriage at a young age, contributes to Henchard’s intolerable character, in combination with the intoxication of alcohol. The fusion of anger and intoxication results in Henchard’s intensified emotions and exaggerated behaviour. The combination of emotional instability and an unhappy marriage had sealed the protagonist’s fate as he committed the transaction. Due to this, it can be assumed that if Michael Henchard had not been drunk that day, he would not have sold his wife and daughter and, in turn, his life would not have ended in such tragedy. This proves that one’s...
tracking img