The Mayor of Casterbridge Plot Analysis

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This is a novel by an English writer of the 19th and 20th centuries. Thomas Hardy released "The Mayor of Casterbridge" progressively, first beginning to print it in portions in a weekly newspaper. Many people like the novel - an excellent description of the English countryside, a wonderful style of presentation, and an excellent portrayal of the characters. The storyline did not let us down either - there are intrigues, carefully kept, but still unexpectedly emerging secrets, but the plot twists are especially interesting, sometimes it is simply impossible to predict their course. The problem of character is raised in the novel: the emotional hero personifies the old English society, which opposes any innovations and gradually dies off, but he is young and energetic rival is the new generation that comes to replace him.

Analysis of The Plot

The town of Casterbridge, in which the events of the novel take place, is a fictional place, but undoubtedly written off from a real-life provincial town in England in the mid-19th century, a complete immersion in the atmosphere. The narration is conducted very slowly, which, however, is very typical for the literature of that time, but is not without interesting plot twists, sometimes quite unexpected (Razaq 465). The love line in the novel is weakly expressed, its strength is the deep psychological portraits of the characters and predominantly the main character, Michael Henchard.

The whole course of Michael Henchard's life has developed precisely because of his explosive, impulsive nature, which he gives vent to in the most inappropriate places and cases. A young worker, hay knitter Michael Henchard, wandering around England in search of work, drunk sells his wife and little daughter to some sailor (Hardy 7-8). Then the novel takes us twenty years later, where the reader may find out the further fate of this man, as well as his wife and daughter, gradually realizing that the man is not some kind of villain or a bad person. For twenty years, he greatly repented of his actions and wanted to fix everything, but when the chance came, he again ruined everything (Razaq 465-466). Henchard performed his actions on the basis of the emotions boiling inside him, rushing from one extreme to another: either he loved a person unrequitedly and passionately, then after a while, he began to hate and envy him. 

He absolutely did not know how to restrain himself and hide something, since he immediately splashed out all his emotions on those around him, he was a hostage of his quick-tempered character. Usually, it is difficult for such people to live life among others, both themselves and those around them who only want to help suffer. It is bitter to see how this unconditionally strong man, not devoid of virtue, with his own hands, or it would be more correct to say, with his own words, destroys everything that he has achieved in life, position, recognition of the townspeople, friendship, and love of loved ones (Razaq 467). The book is often recommended to those who like Hardy, Zola, and Cronin, and who have free time to read a voluminous narrative. The transformation of character is a common theme of those authors, who manage to explore it with particular thoroughness and are, thus, thought-provoking.


Under the name of the town of Casterbridge, the writer's hometown, Dorchester, is hidden. From the afterword, you can learn that the plot of the novel is not invented by the author from his head: everything that he describes often happened in real life in Victorian England. In its style and plot, the novel resembles the work of Archibald Cronin, Zola. The latter in particular, because Zola was fonder of describing the fate of rural workers, which is not surprising because they are all contemporaries. The book is written soundly, in literate language, and with detailed descriptions of the life and life of people of those times, which many can find very curious.

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Works Cited

Hardy, Thomas. The Mayor Of Casterbridge. Wordsworth Classics, 1994.

Razaq, Abdur et al. "Exploring Effects Of Symbols In Hardy’S The Mayor Of Casterbridge". Zenodo, vol 7, no. 6, 2021, pp. 465-468., Accessed 3 June 2022.

June 10, 2022


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