• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


The Mayor of Casterbridge

Page history last edited by Mr. Mullen 11 years ago


Play Casterbridge Jeopardy


A Dramatic Reading of the auction of Susan



Author: Thomas Hardy


Publication Date:  1886







Character Analysis (Randy)



  • Henchard
    • Always putting out fires
    • Always getting into the trouble
    • Spiraling downward
    • Always looking to recreate the past
  • Farfrae
    • Throughout the entire novel, Farfrae is a perfect foil to Henchard. He is an attrctive person, he is cool and rational under pressure, he does not drink,  he makes logical decions and plans things ahead of time, he is well liked by lots of people, and above all he is generally a happy man. He ends up with a wife and father-in-law, whiel Henchard dies without pride and is to be forgotten.

    • Antagonist / Foil to Henchard
      • In a given situation, Farfrae reaps the benefits, while Henchard suffers
        • Takes away Henchard's family (Marries Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane, both of whom were close to Henchard first.)
      • Butting Heads
        • The incident with Abel Whittle, Henchard's failed party, the wagons crashing, the business which Farfrae buys, not letting Henchard greet the royal visitor, their fight.
      • Cool, calm, and rational 
      • Likable
        • The town sides with Farfrae in every argument and is much more loyal to him as mayor than to Henchard.
      • Youthful, handsome
    • Similarities to Henchard
      • Came to Casterbridge as nothing, but built himself up into a respectable figure
      • Respect each other; both cannot come to kill or violently harm the other
    • Mastermind of Corn and Hay Trade
      • Henchard is just a figurehead, Farfrae is the one with the business genius. This is proved when they split up and Farfrae is so much more successful than Henchard is.
  • The Ideal Family, Nostalgia for the Past, Hard Economic Times, Time (Past, Future), Appearance/Class Status,

Major Themes and Motifs


  • Nostalgia for the past
    • Biggest theme throughout the book
    • Henchard is always chasing after past relationships and trying to make them right.
  • Rational vs Irrational          
    •   Farfrae and Henchard are the two forces of rationality which collide throughout the novel.   
  • Class Status and Differences and Public Appearences
    • Appearances are very important to every character in the novel. Henchard tries extremely hard to keep up appearences even after he becomes impoverished. The fact that she is shamed in public actually kills Lucetta.  The minor characters also play a large part in this theme. Many of Henchard's and Farfrae's actions hinge on the people of Casterbridge's opinions.
    • Henchard's opinion declines
  • Rural (Henchard) vs Modern (Farfrae) 
    • Henchard represents the old way of doing things
    • Farfrae has new ideas and shows up with new inventions



  • Economy and Business
    • Much of the book revolves around business relationships
    • Henchard's business and personal lives correlate
  • Family
    • Longing for companionship and family drives Henchard
  • Parallels Macbeth (Introspective; internal conflicts)
    • Randy: Couldn't really find anything
  • Rain for when bad things are about to happen
    • Rains during Henchard's party

Prominent images (Plaz)


  • Inital sale of wife
    • Starts novel
    • Really strange occurence
    • What sets the rest of the novel into motion
    • Sticks in the reader's mind througout the book
  • Skimmity Ride
    • Shame
    • Embarisment
    • Public humilitation
    • Interesting that when you search "Skimmity Ride" on Google - the book comes up as one of the top results; this must be one of the most through accounts in history of it
    • It also reinforces the small town, rural theme
  • Dead bird
    • Her dicovery of it
      • Sadness
      • Regret
      • This is what marks the start of Elizabeth Jane and Henchard becoming close once again.
    • Him leaving it
      • Trying to create a new start
      • Something encouraging and upbeat
      • He gets rejected by Elizabeth Jane, and then leaves it behind
    • Effect on reader
      • Feel sad for the bird
      • And for Henchard getting rejected
    • -
  • Letter
  • Money
    • p178 "It's better to stay at home, and that's true; but a man must live where his money is made." Farfrae attending to business over Lucetta (Jersey Girl)

Memorable/Key Passeges (Greg)

  • Henchard gives up drinking for 21 years (Pg. 23)
    • "I, Michael Henchard, on this morning of the sixteenth of September, do take an oath before God here in this solemn place that I will avoid all strong liquors for the space of twenty-one years to come, being a year for every year that I have lived. And this I swear upon the book before me; and may I be strook dumb, blind, and helpless, if I break this my oath!" - Michael Henchard
  • Henchard is about to finish off Farfrae (Pg. 301)
    • "Now," said Henchard between his gasps, "this is the end of what you began this morning. Your life is in my hands."

                    "Then, take it, take it!" said Farfrae. "Ye've wished to long enough!"


This passage really brings out Henchard’s hatred for Farfrae. His sinister tone is evident of his disgust for Farfrae. Henchard is also still living in the past. “end of what you began this morning” shows Henchard trying to once again “repair” the past. Instead of moving on, Henchard is still focusing on past events.

  • Henchard's jealousy of Farfrae (Pg. 113)
    • "But please will Mr. Farfrae come?" said the child.

                    "I am going that way...Why Mr. Farfrae? said Henchard, with the fixed look of thought. 

                    "Why do people always want Mr. Farfrae?"

                    "I suppose because they like him so-that's what they say."

                    "Oh-I see-that's what they say-hey? They like him because he's cleverer than Mr. Henchard, and

                    because he knows more; and, in short, Mr. Henchard can't hold a candle to him-hey?"


Here, we see evidence of Henchard’s “fall from grace”. He is no longer seen as a respectable figure. The public opinion of Henchard also surfaces. The townspeople see Farfrae as their leader, whilst dismissing Henchard with disrespect. The boy requests that Farfrae come, showing the boy’s lack of respect and trust in Henchard’s judgment.

  • Henchard deceives Newson with Elizabeth-Jane's "death" (Pg. 322)
    • "Dead likewise," said Henchard doggedly. "Surely you learnt that too?" The sailor started up, and took an enervated pace or two down the room.

                    "Dead!" he said, in a low voice. "Then what's the use of my money to me?"


Henchard shows irrationality here. He knows that Newson will probably discover the deception eventually, but he lies anyway. By this time, Henchard has already lost Susan, Lucetta, and Farfrae as a friend. Elizabeth-Jane is all he has left, and he is willing to lie to keep her. Newson’s tone describes him as a loving father. He mourns Elizabeth-Jane’s apparent death, and was also expecting to use some of his fortunes to better her situation.

  • Elizabeth renounces Henchard as her father (Pg. 348)
    • Elizabeth sighed. "I said I would never forget him. But O! I think I ought to forget him now!" - Elizabeth-Jane


  • Letters
    • Henchard requests that Farfrae stay away from Elizabeth-Jane (Pg. 128)
      • "Sir-I make request that henceforth you and my step-daughter be as strangers to each other. She on her part has promised to welcome no more addresses from you; and I trust, therefore, you will not attempt to force them upon her." - M. Henchard
    • Excerpt from Lucetta to Henchard hoping that they can resume their courtship (Pg. 132)
      • "I shall return through Casterbridge and Budmouth, where I shall take the packet-boat. Can you meet me with the letters and other trifles? I shall be in the coach which changes horses at the Antelope Hotel at half-past five Wednesday evening; I shall be wearing a Paisley shawl with a red centre, and thus may easily be found. I should prefer this plan of receiving them to having them sent.-I remain still, yours ever," - Lucetta
    • Excerpt from Susan Henchard's letter revealing the truth behind Elizabeth-Jane (Pg. 141)
      • "Elizabeth-Jane is not your Elizabeth-Jane-the child who was in my arms when you sold me. No; she died three months after that, and this living one is my other husband's. I christened her by the same name we had given to the first, and she filled up the ache I felt at the other's loss. Michael, I am dying, and I might have held my other tongue; but I could not. Tell her husband of this or not, as you may judge; and forgive, if you can, a woman you once deeply wronged, as she forgives you." - Susan Henchard
    • Henchard allows for Farfrae to court Elizabeth-Jane (Pg. 152)
      • "Sir-On consideration, I don't wish to interfere with your courtship of Elizabeth-Jane, if you care for her. I therefore withdraw my objection; excepting in this-that the business be not carried on in my house.-Yours," - M. Henchard
    • Excerpt of Lucetta's letter to Henchard following Susan's death (Pg. 164)
      • "As soon as I knew she [Susan] was no more, it was brought home to me very forcibly by my conscience that I ought to endeavor to disperse the shade which my etourderie flung over my name, by asking you to carry out your promise [the courtship] to me." - Lucetta 
    • Excerpt from Henchard's will (Pg. 366)
      • "& that no man remember me.

                              To this I put my name.

                                                                           Michael Henchard.  


  • Letter
    • Henchard tells Elezibeth-Jane that he is her father; but the next day he finds the letter which disproves that


created by Hardy Boys (Plaz, Greg aka Nicosianator, Randy) Class of 2009








Comments (1)

Mr. Mullen said

at 8:35 pm on Apr 5, 2009

All the elements present.
The "bullet point" style (with sentence fragments) sometimes limits the depth of the analysis.

You don't have permission to comment on this page.