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The mayor of casterbridge by t essay

The Mayor of Casterbridge was written in the second part of the nineteenth century by the novelist Thomas Hardy. The story circles around a prosperous businessman, Michael Henchard, his shady past and his prosperous present.

It shows the power of the corn trade in the early years and also the impact of a newfound belief in the period- Fate. In this essay I will be analysing the book and its contents to see how it reflects the social, historical and cultural influences of the era in which it is set.

As a skilled architect, and having a great eye for detail, Hardy included large pieces of narrative about Casterbridge and the key buildings in his novel.

His first, general description about the layout of Casterbridge came early on in the book: It had no suburbs- in the ordinary sense. It is described as dull red and grey brick, open front door and a very large garden.

This building still exists today, even though it is now Barclays bank and there is no sign of a large garden at the back! A timely consciousness of the ultimate vanity of human architecture. The trip must have been rough, but they could afford no more.

Critical Evaluation

For those who were much wealthier however, they could afford to use such things as flys and gigs, which were horse drawn carriages. Hardy does give us an example of this in The Mayor of Casterbridge; two lovers being split up when the male gets a job in another town.

It ends up with the two acknowledging that they will probably never see each other again. It shows Elizabeth Jane waiting on tables in her hotel to earn the right to stay in one of the rooms with her mother. But we are told that in all but the most isolated tows this custom has almost died out.

A curfew was still rung in the in the town, but not for the original reasons. We read that the town pump was a regular meeting place of the townspeople. Their own water sources, be they wells or streams were known to be less pure than the water from the mayor of casterbridge by t essay town pump, so many people drank from there. The drinking of ale was a different matter altogether. In those days there was no imported beer, and there was very little selection, if any at all, so it was still the custom to brew ale in the pubs themselves.

It was also known that people brewed their own beer at home and a favourite breakfast was freshly brewed ale and pigeon pie!

  1. It is my belief that Pain in "The Mayor of Casterbridge" by Thomas Hardy 735 words - 3 pages that Henchard might try to harm him even though her and Farfrae's split brought her pain. The whole plot relies on the belief of Fate.
  2. It shows Elizabeth Jane waiting on tables in her hotel to earn the right to stay in one of the rooms with her mother.
  3. An effigy of each of the persons was placed onto a back of a horse and was paraded around for all to see. Elizabeth-Jane puts the events in the past and moves on with her life while Henchard sulks in the misery brought on not by fate, as he believes, but by his own mistakes and foolish choices.

But life in the town was not all drinking ale and going to the pub. Some of the bigger and more important customs of the time are reflected in the novel as well. Candlemass Fair was held on the 14th of February, and it was the main day of hiring of hands for the corn yards.

Lady day was the day soon after 6th of April when the current years contracts expired. When we read about Henchard in the pub for the first time in 21 years, we see that the local choir and musicians from the church go into the three mariners every Sunday for a half pint of ale.

When some one died, in this case, Mrs Henchard, there were a few customs that she wanted to be followed.

The mayor of casterbridge - Sample Essay

She asked to be dressed in: Basically a skimmity ride is to name and shame a couple who had an affair or who were considered to have done something wrong. An effigy of each of the persons was placed onto a back of a horse and was paraded around for all to see.

Even though this did happen in the story, in real life things of this sort were becoming less and less common. We also hear about a public hanging in Maumbury rings, an old roman Amphitheatre on the outskirts of Dorchester. Great crowds gathered to watch the spectacle and after the main event, articles of clothing, the rope and even strands of hair were put on sale for souvenirs, and were, by some people, believed to have magical healing powers.

They erected greasy poles for climbing, with smoked hams and local cheese at the top… hurdles in rows for jumping … across the river they lay a slippery pole, with a live pig … tied at the other end, to become the property of the man who could walk over …there were also provided wheelbarrows for racing, donkeys for the same, a stage for boxing, wrestling, and drawing blood generally; sacks for jumping in.

The first is of Henchard as a young man of 21 whose profession and life was on the road, looking for work as a hay trusser: Then he had worn clean, suitable clothes, light and cheerful in hue; leggings yellow as marigolds, corduroys immaculate as new flax, and a neckerchief like a flower garden. Now he wore the remains of an old blue cloth suit of hid gentlemanly times, a rusty silk hat, and a once black satin stock, soiled and shabby.

In this latter article she drew the line at fringe, and had it plain edged, with a little ivory ring for keeping it closed. She wanted to wear them to the mayor of casterbridge by t essay her appreciation of his kindness, but she had not bonnet that would harmonise. As an artistic indulgence she thought she would have such a bonnet.

When she had a bonnet that would go with the gloves she had no dress that would go with the bonnet. A white apron is a suspicious vesture in situations where spotlessness is difficult.

Everything from the segregation of the classes to what was right and wrong in the eyes of the people of that time.

  1. Everything from the segregation of the classes to what was right and wrong in the eyes of the people of that time. The mayor of casterbridge 2 Essay 990 words - 4 pages Literature.
  2. Traditionalism in The Mayor of Casterbridge 1803 words - 7 pages agriculture in Britain were greatly altered.
  3. The first is of Henchard as a young man of 21 whose profession and life was on the road, looking for work as a hay trusser.

Affairs in those days were total scandal and if people learnt about them, those involved would face a life of misery, being mocked by those around them. Nowadays a relationship that does not end in marriage is commonplace, but in those days it was very serious. As I have said before, the era that The Mayor of Casterbridge was set in was a time of great change, and this was shown especially in the smaller towns of the country. That was how it struck Lucetta.

This reflects what was happening all over the country at this time, farmers were abandoning all of their old ways to catch up with technology and produce better goods. We also see that even though newer technology was being developed, at the point of the visit of the royal personage- Prince Albert- we hear that the steam train had not yet reached Casterbridge, and travel by coach was the only way for the Prince to get to where he was going.

Education was starting to affect both those who lived in the town and worked on the farm. You can see the impact of education on even the smallest of details in the story. Even though education was beginning to make an impact, people in remote towns and villages still maintained some of their own beliefs and limited views.

When Farfrae meets some locals in the bar, they comment on his homeland, Scotland, saying: Henchard was the churchwarden, and he had also been religious enough to take a gospel oath 21 years before to give up alcohol, but when in trouble, he went to the weather prophet to try and sort out his problems.

  • This force became known as Fate;
  • Even though education was beginning to make an impact, people in remote towns and villages still maintained some of their own beliefs and limited views;
  • The mayor of Casterbridge is about a man who sells his wife and daughter at a fair he then spends 18 years trying to find them.

Witchcraft was not acceptable, but this did not deter people from trying to sort out their lives with it. This force became known as Fate.

The Mayor Of Casterbridge By T

The whole plot relies on the belief of Fate. But even though all of these new beliefs were appearing, some of the older superstitions were being lost. New ideas were that nature was in fact, indifferent to man and his actions. To demonstrate this, sometimes Hardy wrote so that nature reflected the main characters feelings. We see this after Henchard has found out that Elizabeth Jane is not his own, and in a foul mood he goes for a walk next to the river.

In his original preface he tells us that three of the main topics in his story which were based on real events were the visit of a royal personage, the corn trade and the sale of a wife. The sale of the wife was, in my opinion, one of the most crucial points of the whole plot. Hardy got the idea from an edition of the Dorset County Chronicle between the dates of 1826-1830.

The corn trade was also very important. In The Mayor of Casterbridge Hardy demonstrates the power of the corn trade by showing how it can give you all of the money you ever dreamt of, but also take it all away by having just one bad harvest.

Henchard was at the peak of his life, he was Mayor, churchwarden and a successful businessman, but by the end of one bad year when he had gambled just a bit too much on the turnout of the weather, he had lost it all, his wealth, business and house. Up until then the Corn Laws had forbidden any importation of wheat or corn and so if it was a bad harvest there was a shortage the mayor of casterbridge by t essay good bread.

Because of this, before the Corn Laws had been repealed the corn trade ruled the lives of everyone involved.