What do we learn about the character of Michael Henchard in the opening chapter of the Mayor of Casterbridge?
The Mayor of Casterbridge is a pre 20th Century novel detailing the lives of Michael and Susan Henchard. It is a complicated plot of emotions, rivalry, betrayal and tragedy. It gives an insight into the human weaknesses and emotions.
Michael Henchard, the focus for this essay, sells his wife at an auction in a fit of drunkenness and bitterness. His foolish actions leave him alone and regretful. After an attempt at finding Susan and his daughter, he vows not to touch alcohol for twenty-one years. He goes in search of work and moves to Casterbridge to make something of himself. Meanwhile, Susan’s new husband, Newson, dies and she and Elizabeth Jane find it hard to survive on the little money that is left. They go in search of Mr. Henchard and find that he has become the Mayor of Casterbridge and owner of a highly profitable corn business. Susan and Michael meet and decide to court and re-marry keeping their shameful past a secret.
Donald Farfrae, an employer of Michael Henchard’s business meets Elizabeth Jane and begins courting her. Henchard and Farfrae then fall out and Farfrae is told to stop seeing Elizabeth Jane.
When Susan dies, she leaves a note for her husband explaining that Elizabeth Jane is not his child as the original Elizabeth Jane died, so she gave birth to another child of Newson’s. Michael Henchard then, realizing Elizabeth Jane is not his own becomes very cold towards her and subsequently Elizabeth Jane moves to live with a woman who has just moved to town called Lucetta Templeman. Elizabeth Jane is unaware of the fact that Lucetta is actually a former lover of Henchard’s and hearing of Susan’s death has moved to Casterbridge to marry Henchard. However whilst Susan, and Farfrae are getting close again, he goes to call for her and meets Lucetta instead. The pair hit it off and later, marries.
While Henchard and Elizabeth...
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