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The Mayor of Casterbridge

THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE

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 ENGLISH BLOG: THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE

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The Mayor of Casterbridge is a novel by Thomas Hardy.

THE STORY OF THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE SUMMARY

The very first chapter of the novel introduces us to Michael Henchard. He is a hay-trusser by occupation. The first chapter also introduces us to Susan. She is the wife of Michael Henchard. Both the husband and wife are walking towards the village of Weydon-Priors in Upper Wessex. The woman is carrying a baby daughter. Her name is Elizabeth-Jane. The man is in search of a job.

It is a Fair Day in the village. It is evening time. Hence, the crowd is thicker. They then enter a tent where furmity is sold. Henchard offers two basins of furmity. But he winks at the furmity woman to mix rum in his basin of furmity.

The more Henchard drinks the liquor mixed furmity, the more he loses control of himself. He starts complaining about his marriage. He goes as far as to offer his wife for sale.

A young sailor walks into the tent. His name is Newson. He agrees to buy Susan. The woman warns Henchard. She says she will really go away with the sailor and will never return. But Henchard is not in his sense. Finally, the sailor walks out with Susan carrying her baby. Henchard, overcome by the liquor falls asleep in the tent.

HENCHARD’S REMORSE AND HIS OATH

When Henchard wakes up the next morning, he recalls the last night’s incident. He is full of remorse. Henchard goes to the village church. He takes a solemn oath. Henchard will not take liquor for a period of twenty-one years. He even searches for his wife and daughter. But there is no trace of them. He then decides to go to the town of Casterbridge. But before leaving for Casterbridge he informs the furmity woman where he is going.

SUSAN RETURNS AFTER EIGHTEEN YEARS IN THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE IN SUMMARY

Susan again returns to the village of Weydon-Priors after eighteen years. She had been living with Newson all these years. She is in search of Henchard. Along with her is her grown-up daughter. She is now eighteen year old. There is a report that Newson got drowned during a voyage. She wants to seek help from Henchard. But Susan has not told Elizabeth-Jane anything about the incident that took place eighteen years age. She has only told her that Henchard is a relative.

HENCHARD, A PROSPEROUS CORN TRADER AND THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE SUMMARY

Susan along with Elizabeth-Jane reaches Casterbridge. She gets the information from the furmity woman. When she reaches the town she learns Henchard is a rich corn-and-hay merchant. She even learns Henchard is the mayor of Casterbridge. When Susan arrives the town, Henchard is attending an official banquet. An agitation was going on against him. He had supplied bad corn, though unintentionally to the bakers of the town.

At this moment he receives a letter from a stranger. A young Scotchman named Farfrae says he can make bad corn good. Accordingly the mayor of Casterbridge goes to meet the man in the evening. He is staying at the Three Mariners Inn. Susan and her daughter too are staying in the same inn.

Farfrae impresses Henchard with his skill. The later offers him to be his manager. Henchard promises to pay Farfrae well.

SUSAN REUNITES WITH HER HUSBAND

Henchard meets Susan at a specific spot. He wants to amend the guilt he did to his wife eighteen years ago. He proposes Susan to take a cottage in the town. Henchard plans to pay a few visits to Susan as a suitor. Then he will marry her. In this way he will be reunited with his wife and daughter. The whole story of the sale of Susan to a sailor eighteen years ago will also remain a secret.

However a new complication develops in Henchard’s life. He had promised to marry a young woman at New Jersey. But now, that Susan returns, his first duty is towards her. He discloses all this to Farfrae. Henchard has become very intimate with him.

With the passage of time, a rift starts to develop between Farfrae and Henchard. The growing popularity of Farfrae makes Henchard jealous. Hence, after the contract of Farfrae as a manager expires, Henchard doesn’t renew it. Farfrae now starts an independent corn-and-hay business. Henchard starts considering him as his enemy.

A STRANGE DISCOVERY BY HENCHARD

Susan’s health has been deteriorating. She leaves a sealed letter for her husband. But on the letter some directions were written. Henchard should not open the letter before the marriage of Elizabeth-Jane.

Henchard tells Elizabeth-Jane that she is his real daughter. But at this stage, he finds Susan’s sealed letter. He reads the direction on top but still opens it. He learns that Elizabeth-Jane is Newson’s daughter. Their daughter had died in her infancy. Henchard is shocked at this revelation.

He becomes indifferent towards Elizabeth-Jane. He adopts almost a rough and unkind attitude towards her.

THE DEEPENING OF THE RIVALRY BETWEEN THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE AND FARFRAE

Elizabeth-Jane meets a beautiful young lady by chance. She has come to Casterbridge from New Jersey. Her name is Lucette. She is none other than the young woman whom Henchard promised to marry. She offers to appoint Elizabeth-Jane as her household companion.

Farfrae now receives the permission from Henchard to marry Elizabeth-Jane. Accordingly, he reaches the house of Lucetta, where Elizabeth is staying. As Elizabeth is not in the house Farfrae enters into a conversation with Lucetta. Both Lucetta and Farfrae fall in love with each other. As a result Farfrae loses his interest in Elizabeth. Lucetta, too loses her interest in Henchard.

Henchard now starts to consider Farfrae as his enemy. His term as the mayor of Caserbridge is also over. However he is still a magistrate.

HENCHARD’S SECRET IS EXPOSED BY THE FURMITY WOMAN IN THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE SUMMARY

Henchard threatens Lucetta. He says he will expose her love-affair with him if she doesn’t agree to marry Henchard. Now the furmity woman arrives Casterbridge. She had witnessed Henchard’s sale of his wife many years ago. She discloses the secret of Henchard’s life. Lucetta is worried when she learns how brutal Henchard was to his wife. She hastily marries Farfrae. Henchard becomes furious.

Henchard now becomes penniless. His property is sold. Farfrae buys everything. Henchard is reduced to a hay-trusser.

Farfrae is now elected the mayor of Casterbridge.

Lucetta had written some love letters to Henchard from New Jersey. Henchard puts those letters in a packet and gives Jop to hand over to Lucetta. Jop reads those letters in a gathering of bad characters. They decide a skimmity-ride. This will expose Hnchard and Lucetta to the public eye.

On learning about the skimmity-ride Lucetta faints. Her condition deteriorates and she dies.

CONCLUSION OF THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE SUMMARY

Newson arrives Casterbridge. The news of his death was false. He meets Elizabeth-Jane. She learns Newson is her real father. Henchard now loses all hope. He mournfully departs from Casterbridge. Farfrae wants to marry Elizabeth-Jane. He courts her. Newson gives his consent.

On the night of Elizabeth’s marriage Henchard goes to meet her. But Elizabeth insults him. She however repents later. Farfrae and Elizabeth searches Henchard. But they learn he is dead. He has left a will behind. The will shows how depressed he was in his last days.

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