AP English Literature and Composition
19 March. 2013
Symbolism in The Mayor of Casterbridge
A symbol is an object, person, or figure that is used to represent a concept in the story. Throughout the novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, there are three key symbols. All three symbols Hardy uses are objects. These three objects all represent something about the main character, Henchard. One of the three symbols also pertains to Farfrae, another character in the novel. The three symbols are the collision of wagons, the bull, and the caged goldfinch. All three of the symbols play a large part in this novel and further help the reader understand the concepts of the characters.
The first of the symbols is the collision of wagons. The two wagons that collide are grain wagons; one owned by Henchard, and the other wagon owned by Farfrae. The wreck happens at night, and both of the wagons are filled to the brim with hay. One of the wagons gets stuck and has to be left overnight. The violent collision of the two wagons is more than just a wreck which Farfrae’s waggoner thinks “[he] must have done [that] a purpose” (Hardy 179). This action symbolizes the ongoing struggle of Henchard and Farfrae’s relationship (college prep). In the beginning of their relationship, Henchard is very pleased with Farfrae, but as their lives go on together, Farfrae begins to become more well-liked by the townspeople than Henchard. After more time passes, Henchard grows very jealous of Farfrae and despises him. They are building up great tension between one another, and the collision just adds to it. The wagon collision also symbolizes the traditional ways in which Henchard does his business. These practices may be outdated and ineffective, but they are what Henchard stands for and values. On the other hand, Farfrae is very modern in his business, and therefore more effective. Farfrae and his modern attitude have caught the eye of townspeople, and they are intrigued...
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