Mayor of Casterbridge Tragic Hero

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Cole Magee
AP Literature Block 2
10/16/2012
The Effects of a Tragic Hero in The Mayor of Casterbridge by: Thomas Hardy

Within the novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, Hardy’s main character, Henchard, is displayed as a tragic hero who has started off in a high position but has fallen due to an unacknowledged tragic flaw. Henchard becomes an instrument for the suffering of the women around him, resulting from his ultimate failure to recognize his rash behavior. Henchard’s former wife, love affair, and “daughter” are all mutually unable to coexist with the ever-impulsive tragic hero.

At the beginning of Mayor of Casterbridge, Hardy achieves a realistic relationship in which the common man of Hardy’s era is able to make with the lifelike character of Henchard. Then common man will initially find Henchard’s imperfect relationship with Susan to be accurate or even similar to the relationships that these men, from this era, have with their wives. Susan is a character with whom the readers should pity at the point of her death. Henchard sells the poor woman because of his impulsiveness. “Here – I am waiting to know about this offer of mine. The woman is no good to me. Who’ll have her?” (Hardy 8). The drunken Henchard, whom is exceptionally impatient with the crowd in the tent, is the man who belches out this remark. Henchard yearns for someone to take up his impetuous offer to sell his wife. Susan suffers as a result of Henchard’s impulsivity in this scene. Although Susan and Henchard do not maintain a perfect relationship before the night of the auction, Susan certainly does not deserve the punishment that Henchard absurdly creates. This rash behavior that Henchard displays while selling his wife is unmistakably the tragic flaw that will create the suffering Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane will later encounter. It is at this point in the novel that Hardy’s initial noble stature is weakened. Perhaps the common man, when drunk like Henchard is, may possess sympathy for...
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