Objectives: By the end of this subtopic learners should be able to:
  • List major characters in the text.
  • Give a brief account of the story.
  • Relate story to personal experience.


  • Michael Henchard, his wife Susan and their daughter ,Elizabeth-Jane are travelling; Henchard is looking for employment as a hay-trusser.
  • Henchard gets drunk at a town fair and auctions his wife and daughter to Newson, the sailor.
  • In the morning, Henchard regrets what he has done and searches for the stranger who bought his wife and daughter.
  • He fails to find them and  goes to a church and takes an oath not to drink alcohol for the next twenty-one years, which are the number of years he has been alive.
  • Eighteen years later, Newson dies and Susan and Elizabeth-Jane return to search for Henchard.
  • They find him in Casterbridge where they find Henchard is now the Mayor.
  • Henchard and Susan meet and decide that in order to conceal their disgraceful past from Elizabeth-Jane, Henchard will court and marry Susan.
  • Donald Farfrae, a young Scotchman who intends to go to Bristol, to try his fortune in the great wheat growing districts of the West, is hired by Henchard as his manager, in the corn business.
  • Elizabeth- Jane is intrigued by Farfrae and they start spending time together.
  • Henchard and Susan get married and Henchard adopts Elizabeth-Jane as his step daughter.
  • Farfrae seems to do everything better than Henchard and he is loved by the town folk.
  • Henchard fires Farfrae as his manager and tells him not to court his step-daughter Elizabeth-Jane.
  • Susan falls ill and eventually dies, she leaves a letter to Henchard which he is supposed to read when Elizabeth-Jane is married.
  • He reads the letter which reveals that Elizabeth-Jane is not his daughter but that of the sailor Newson.
  • Henchard becomes cold towards Elizabeth-Jane.
  • Elizabeth Jane decides to leave his house and stay with Lucetta who is new in town.
  • Lucetta Templeman was once involved with Henchard in Susan’s absence and she decides to come to Casterbridge to marry Henchard after she learns of Susan’s death.
  • While Lucetta who is rich through inheritance is waiting for Henchard to marry her, she meets and falls in love with Farfrae, they get involved and eventually marry.
  • Meanwhile, Henchard hires Jopp as his new manager and they make a huge loss in the corn business.
  • Lucetta asks Henchard to return the letters she wrote to him in order to avoid their secret from coming out.
  •  Henchard sends Jopp with the letters but he opens them and reads them in a pub.
  • The peasants at the pub decide to make a humiliating parade portraying Henchard and Lucetta‘s romantic involvement, all this happens while Farfrae is out of town.
  • Because of the parade, Lucetta faints and eventually dies.
  • Newson arrives at Henchard’s house looking for Elizabeth-Jane, Henchard is surprised that Newson is still alive, he lies to him that she is dead.
  •  Newson later returns to town and Henchard learns of this and he leaves town before he is confronted with the truth.
  • Elizabeth-Jane is hurt because of her perceived father leaving Casterbridge.
  • Elizabeth-Jane is reunited with Newson after he had established Henchard’s deceit.
  • Newson and Farfrae plan the wedding of Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane.
  • On the day of the wedding, Henchard shows up to see Elizabeth-Jane, but she refuses to see him.
  • Hurt, he tells her that he will never come to bother her ever again and he leaves town again.
  • When Elizabeth-Jane realises that Henchard had brought him a wedding gift, she regrets snubbing him and together with her husband, they go on a search for him.
  • Unfortunately, they find that he has died and she cannot make peace with him, he has left a note with his final wishes of being forgotten.

2.0 PLOT

Objectives: By the end of this subtopic learners should be able to:
  • Define plot.
  • Describe the development of a plot.
  • Give an account of plot analysis.

2.1 Introduction

  • Every story must have a beginning; this is where the characters and setting are established.
  • This part of the novel, the conflict is introduced.
  •  It provides the background for the plot of the story.

2.2 Rising Action

  •  In this stage the plot develops and sub conflicts are introduced.
  • Other characters are  introduced as well.
  • In most cases the main character faces challenges.

2.3 Climax

  • This is the high point of the story.
  • This is the worst challenge the character must face.
  • The play intensifies at this point.

2.4 Falling Action/ Winding Down

  • The main character starts to deal with the challenges he is facing.
  • The plot winds down as the resolution takes shape.

2.5 Conclusion

  • This is the final part of the story where all issues are resolved.
  • The protagonist can either experience victory or meet his demise.

2.6 Introduction

  • Henchard, who is a hay-trusser, is travelling with his wife Susan and daughter Elizabeth-Jane with him looking for employment.
  • They stop at a faIr and Henchard in a drunken state auctions his wife and daughter to a sailor.
  • The following morning, now sober Henchard goes in search of the stranger who has his wife and daughter.
  • This search is in vain and he goes to a nearby church and makes an oath never to drink alcohol again for the next twenty-one years which are the years he has been in existence.

2.7 Conflict

  • The first conflict is between Henchard and Susan.
  • While drunk Henchard auctions his wife and during that time Susan tries to stop him until she gets angry because Henchard will not stop.
  • She then agrees to go with Mr. Newson in a fit of anger page 9 “ I have lived with thee a couple of years , and had nothing but temper! Now l am no more to’ee; I will try my luck elsewhere…”
  • This is the conflict that propels the wheels of events.

2.8 Rise in action

  • The following morning after he realizes what he did he swears never to drink again and sets to change his life.
  • He then travels to Casterbridge wherehe builds his life and ends up becoming the mayor.
  • As Henchard’s business grows he hires a manager who is a young Scotchman named Donald Farfrae.
  • Initially their relationship is that of pure admiration and love.
  • After the alleged death of Newson; Elizabeth and Susan head for Casterbridge in search of Henchard.
  • They re-unite with Henchard and he marries Susan again.
  • Farfrae is loved by the townsfolk and he is good at his job, he also gets drawn to Henchard’s step daughter Elizabeth-Jane.
  • As Henchard’s business grows because of Farfrae’s good work so does the young man’s reputation with the people of Casterbridge.
  • This makes Henchard jealous of his younger employee and he decides to fire him and he also writes a note to him telling him to stop courting his daughter.
  • Farfrae sets up his own business in town which also quickly blossoms.
  • Susan falls ill and eventually dies leaving Henchard a widower.
  • Lucetta Teppleman who has inherited some money comes into Casterbridge in a bid to get married to the now widowed Henchard.
  • Meanwhile Henchard learns that Elizabeth-Jane is not his daughter, so he becomes cold towards her and she decides to move out of his house and live in with Lucetta.
  • Lucetta meets Farfrae by chance when he comes visiting Elizabeth-Jane and she falls in love with him.
  • She decides to marry Farfrae which makes Henchard more jealous that he uses blackmail to force her to vow to marry him, which she does in front of Elizabeth-Jane.
  • Henchard makes a bad business call which makes him declare bankruptcy; he also fires Jopp in the process.
  • Farfrae buys Henchard’s business including his house.
  • Lucetta is still concerned about her letters and asks for them to be brought back.
  • Henchard sends the letters with Jopp who reads them to some peasants in a pub.
  • The peasants decide to hold a parade to humiliate and expose Henchard and Lucetta’s affair.
  • The parade is held while Farfrae is out of town, Lucetta falls ill and eventually dies not before confessing to her husband.
  • Just after Lucetta’s death Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane are now close and spending more time together, Newson shows up at Henchard’s door and asks of Elizabeth-Jane.
  • Henchard tells him that she has died and he goes away.
  • Elizabeth-Jane decides to stay with Henchard and she also starts a courtship with Farfrae.
  • One day Henchard learns that Newson has returned to Casterbridge and he decides to leave town.

2.9 Climax

  • The climax of the story is reached when Newson returns to Casterbridge.
  • The return of Newson brings Henchard’s life to a full circle.
  • Newson comes and claims ownership of Elizabeth-Jane, which leaves Henchard back to his lonely state.
  • Newson’s arrival drives Henchard out of Casterbridge.

2.10 Fall in Action

  • Henchard leaves town and when Elizabeth-Jane talks to Newson she is angry at the fraud that Henchard committed.
  • Newson and Farfrae organize the wedding of Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane.
  • On the wedding day Henchard shows up but Elizabeth-Jane shuns him, he goes home a very disheartened man.
  • Newson goes to live at the seaside knowing where his daughter is.
  • Farfrae the mayor of Casterbridge lives with his new wife.

2.11 Conclusion

  • When Elizabeth-Jane finds out that Henchard had brought her a wedding gift, she feels bad about this because she had chased him in anger.
  • With the aid of her husband they set out to search for Henchard whom they find has passed away.
  • Henchard has left a will which says he wishes to be forgotten and no one should moan for his death.
  • Elizabeth does not find closure because Henchard is dead.
  • Henchard dies a lonely and bitter man; this is as a result of how he treated his wife by selling her in the first place.

2.12 Plot Analysis

  • The initial conflict in the story is when Henchard sells his wife and daughter to a sailor in an auction.
  • His decision to sell is done when he is drunk.
  • There is a constant recurrence of how Henchard makes irrational decisions when he is drunk, angry, proud or jealous.
  • Henchard’s drinking causes strain in his marriage to Susan and this emotional state also causes Susan to leave Henchard and go with the sailor.
  • If their marriage had been stable, then Susan might have fought to stay with Henchard rather than go with Newson.
  • After the realization of what he had done dawns on Henchard he makes a vow not to drink alcohol for the next twenty one years.
  • This sees a turn in his fortunes as he manages to be a successful owner of a prosperous corn and wheat business and on top of that being the mayor of Casterbridge.
  • When Susan’s sailor husband is said to be supposedly dead at sea, she and her daughter Elizabeth-Jane set out to find Henchard.
  • They find him but then a conflict arises for him because he had planned to marry Lucetta a girl whose reputation he had damaged.
  • Henchard is caught between marrying Susan and Lucetta of which he decides to marry Susan.
  • Henchard’s business continues to grow and he hires Farfrae as his new manager.
  • At first they are best of buddies, Farfrae is hands on and is very much loved by the town folk, this makes Henchard jealous of him and this drives him to irrationally fire him.
  • Henchard orders Farfrae not to court his step-daughter who has taken an interest in him.
  • Farfrae does not leave town but decides to open his own business in Casterbridge for he feels there is room for both he and Henchard to thrive in the same business without stepping on each other’s toes.
  • Susan dies and Henchard is single again of which he feels he can now repair Lucetta’s damaged reputation through marriage.
  • When Lucetta comes to live in Casterbridge waiting for Henchard to marry her, a love triangle conflict starts.
  • Lucetta does not fancy being married to Henchard anymore but is more interested in Farfrae and this makes Henchard more jealous of his younger adversary.
  • Henchard in a fit of jealous rage forces Lucetta to promise to marry him, Elizabeth-Jane is witness to this.
  • Henchard declares bankruptcy after having misjudged when to sell his corn, Farfrae buys him out.
  • Lucetta and Farfrae marry.
  • This drives Henchard to be close to his daughter Elizabeth-Jane who moves in with him and they stay as father and daughter.
  • Henchard now lives in constant fear that Elizabeth-Jane will find out that he is not his real father and she will leave him.
  • Newson, the sailor, shows up, Henchard lies and says that Elizabeth-Jane is dead.
  • Newson leaves, but now Henchard worries; what if Newson comes back and Elizabeth-Jane finds out that he lied?
  • The peasants who know about Henchard and Lucetta’s past hold a parade to expose and humiliate them.
  • Lucetta is hysterical and is afraid Farfrae will not love her anymore when he finds out and she eventually dies.
  • Farfrae and Elizabeth start courting again and this time Henchard does not have any objections.
  • Henchard’s fear of Elizabeth-Jane finding out finally comes true when Newson returns, instead of facing confrontation, Henchard decides to leave town.
  • The conflicts in the play end at this point and what follows are events which wind down the story.
  • Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane get married, Henchard shows up but he is shunned by the bride.
  • Later when Elizabeth-Jane finds out that Henchard had come with a gift for her, she feels bad at how she was cold to him.
  • Together with her husband they go in search of Henchard who they find to have just passed away.


Objectives: By the end of this subtopic learners should be able to:
  • Define characterization.
  • Describe characters using adjectives.
  • Assess character development.
  • Analyse characters in a text.

3.1 Definition

3.2 Characterisation

3.2.1 Michael Henchard

  • This is evident in the silence between him and his wife Susan when they were walking together.
  • There is so much tension and only a few words from Susan to Elizabeth Jane.
  • What was really peculiar, however, in this couple’s progress, and would have attracted the attention of any casual observer otherwise disposed to overlook them, was the perfect silence they preserved. (Page 1).
  • During his drunken episode in Weydon-Priors, he ends up auctioning his wife and daughter to a sailor; Mr. Newson.
  • Also in his bid to outdo Mr. Farfrae he ends up stocking up corn without considering how the harvests would be that year and that results in loses and his bankruptcy.
  • He ill-treats Abel Whittle and makes him go to work without his pants, “Out of bed, sir, and off to the granary, or you leave my employ today! ‘tis to teach ye a lesson. March on; never mind your breeches!” (Page 76).
  • After reading Susan’s letter he keeps the truth about Elizabeth Jane’s paternity to himself because he does not want to lose her.
  • He does not consider that maybe Elizabeth Jane might want to know the truth.

  • The day after he sells his wife and child he feels so bad about it, he looks for them and when he realizes that they are gone he vows to never drink alcohol for twenty one years and he sticks to that oath.
  • 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… (Page 13).
  • When he finally gets reunited with Susan he offers to marry her again to make up for what he had done.
  • After he realizes that Elizabeth Jane is about to discover the truth he leaves Casterbridge but only to come back and try to make amends with her at her wedding.

  • When Farfrae starts getting successful he gets so jealous that he throws a party at the same time as Farfrae and he gets agitated when his party becomes a flop.
  • He tries to blackmail Lucetta into marrying him because he does not want her to marry Donald.
  • He does not seem happy about Elizabeth Jane’s relationship with Donald.

3.2.2 Susan Henchard Newson

  • When she is sold by Henchard in a drunken stupor, she knows that he does not mean it but she goes anyway.
  • This goes on to show that she did as a way of avenging her honor in her fit of rage.

  • When she comes to Casterbridge to find Henchard, she lets him believe that Elizabeth Jane is his child.
  • She keeps this secret to herself and also makes Elizabeth believe that as well.
  • When she is about to die she writes a letter with the confession to be read on Elizabeth’s wedding.

3.2.3 Elizabeth-Jane Newson

  • When she realizes that Donald now has eyes for Lucetta she accepts it and moves on with her life.
  • This is a sign of strength considering that she now regarded Lucetta as her friend.
  • When Henchard discovers that she is not his daughter, he becomes cold and harsh towards her.
  • She is patient with him and continues to stand by him, even when he embarrasses her at the welcoming of the royals.

3.2.4 Mr Newson

  • Before he buys Susan and Elizabeth, he first asks them if they want to come with him.
  • tis quite on the understanding that the young woman is willing, I wouldn’t hurt her feelings for the world.’(page 9).
  • He fakes his death with the intention of returning after a few months for his daughter.

3.2.5 Donald Farfrae

  • Even after Henchard has done so many bad things to him, he is able to forgive him and does all in his power to help him get back to his feet including offering him furniture from his old house.

  • He makes an impression on Henchard who later makes him manager.
  • He wins over the favor of the townspeople over Henchard this later sees him being appointed as Mayor.
  • He is also able to win Lucetta’s love and Elizabeth’s affection.
  • …but that something about the young man- that hyperborean crispness, stringency, and charm, as of a well-braced musical instrument, which had awakened the interest of Henchard, and of Elizabeth-Jane, and of the Three Mariners’ jovial crew, at sight…(Page122).

3.2.6 Lucetta Templeman

  • She is aware that Donald has come to the house looking for Elizabeth but she makes him stay even though she knows that Elizabeth will not be home.
  • After that she asks Elizabeth to stay for longer because she knows Donald will be back again looking for Elizabeth.
  • Poor Elizabeth-Jane, little thinking what her malignant star had done to blast the budding attentions she had won from Donald Farfrae, was glad to hear Lucetta’s words about remaining.(Page128)
  •  She makes her mark on Farfrae regardless of how it would hurt Elizabeth.

  • She works hard to hide from Farfrae her past relationship with Henchard by begging him to return all her letters.
  • At one point she is loyal and wants to marry Henchard but she ends up marrying Donald.
  • Lucetta had come to Casterbridge to quicken Henchard’s feelings with regard to her. She had quickened them, and now she was indifferent to the achievement. (Page 128).

3.3    Character development.

  • Henchards’ transformation begins after the auctioning of his wife and daughter.
  • He vows never to touch alcohol for twenty one years.
  • From being the drunk and irresponsible man he becomes the Mayor of Casterbridge and he later makes amends with his wife.
  • However he undergoes another drastic change, which became apparent with the arrival of Lucetta.
  • He becomes this obsessive impulsive man who will do anything to have an upper hand over Donald Farfrae.
  • He later goes back to drinking alcohol and ends up losing everything only to die with nothing to his name and with no one in his life.
  • Donald Farfrae starts off as a bit reserved but as the story goes on he gains confidence in himself, he stands up for Mr. Whittle’s rights when Henchard sends him to work without his Breeches.
  • Lucetta at first seems to be so in love with Henchard but later changes and falls in love with Donald Farfrae.
  • Lucetta did everything to keep that marriage safe.
  • Susan and Elizabeth are stagnant characters, they do not change and the situations they encounter do not seem to change them.
  • Susan remains reserved and fragile and Elizabeth strong and able to accept things as they are.

3.4   Character Analysis

  • The characters in Mayor of Casterbridge go through their journeys blinded and played by destiny and fate.
  • Donald is a sharp contrast of Henchard.
  • It is fate that crosses their paths and the irony is that Henchard is the one that helps Donald to rise by so doing causing his own downfall.
  • Michael prophesies himself ‘…and if I were a free man again, I’d be worth a thousand pound…’ (Page 5).
  • This statement uttered in drunkenness changes his life, he auctions his wife and after that he makes it in life and ends up as the Mayor of Casterbridge.
  • He re-unites with his wife and things start going downhill for him until he ends up losing everything.
  • The author also shows how twisted fate is; while Henchard was the Mayor he abuses Mr. Whittle but it is the same man who takes care of him during his last days on earth.
  • Lucetta is doomed from the beginning, she has an affair with Henchard and as a result she is an outcast in Jersey.
  • Henchard later withdraws his promise to marry her when he re-unites with his long lost family.
  •  Lucetta then moves to Casterbridge and falls in love with Donald Farfrae.
  • The people of Casterbridge find out about her affair with Henchard and she is ridiculed which causes her demise.
  • Elizabeth-Jane inherits a name from her dead sister and because of that name she is accepted by Henchard.
  • It becomes ironic that Henchard treats her well when she calls him step father but as soon as he tells her that he is the father; he starts treating her badly.
  • She meets Lucetta who ends up offering her a place to stay only to later take away from her the love of her life whom she goes on to marry after Lucetta dies.
  • The characters are intertwined and their decisions and choices create a complex and complicated turn of events.


Objectives: By the end of this subtopic learners should be able to:
  • List themes found in the text.
  • Describe how the themes are brought out in the text.
  • Relate the themes to experience.
  • Give an analysis of the author’s intention.

4.1 List of themes

  • love and family
  • Marriage
  • Jealous
  • Self-Destruction
  • Honor
  • Deception
  • Forgiveness
  • Death

4.2 Theme analysis

4.2.1 Love and family

  • Love is portrayed as one of the issues which give the characters life.
  • Lucetta is driven by love to marry Farfrae instead of Henchard who she had committed to in the past.
  • She chooses love and is not willing to compromise on love.
  • Lucetta says "l won't be a slave to the past, l will love where l choose!"(page 138)
  • Elizabeth -Jane is however unlucky with love, first she is rejected by Henchard when he discovers that she is not his biological daughter.
  • Henchard is not willing to make her a part of his family and refuses to love her.  
  • Elizabeth loves Farfrae secretly and when he marries Lucetta she accepts her circumstance and moves on with her life.
  • After eighteen years of separation Henchard still loved his family and wanted to reconcile with them.

4.2.2 Marriage

  • Marriage is the first theme introduced in the book.
  • We are introduced to Susan and Henchard; a couple who are in an unhealthy marriage.
  • The silence they share on their journey shows that there is no love between them.
  • Their marriage is a sham and this is shown when Henchard sells his wife and child to the sailor while he is drunk senseless.
  • A decision he wakes up to regret the next morning.
  • Hardy portrays marriage as a burden to the man who is supposed to be the provider.
  • Susan agrees to be sold because she also needed someone to depend on, women of that era were enslaved into marriage because they could not fend for themselves.
  • Hardy also shows the issue of marriage of convenience through Henchard and Susan’s second marriage.
  • Henchard remarried Susan because he wanted to make up for selling her.
  • Susan also remarried Henchard in order for Elizabeth-Jane to have a father.
  • Hardy also shows that true love does exist through Donald and Lucetta whose marriage was pure love.

4.2.3 Jealousy

  • Henchard is unable to celebrate Farfrae's success because he is consumed with envy and jealousy because he wishes to be the only one on top.
  • He is so bitter that he plots to kill Farfrae.
  • He loses his partnership with Farfrae.
  • His jealousy leads him to destroy his reputation as his plan to destroy Farfrae backfires.
  • He loses Lucetta to Farfrae and this makes him go crazy.
  • He becomes a drunk again and loses focus of his life and he watches as Farfrae takes over his life, his position as mayor and the woman he loved.
  • He fails to realise that Farfrae was younger than him and he could not compete with that.
  • Henchard is so jealous of Farfrae to the extent that he does not wish to see him with his daughter, he destroys their relationship by telling Farfrae not to court his daughter.

4.2.4 Self-Destruction

  • Henchard finds himself making decisions under the influence of alcohol.
  • He sells his wife to the highest bidder and ruins his marriage and when he sobers up it is too late to correct this mistake.
  • This however gives him a wakeup call and he decides to quit drinking for twenty-one years.
  • He makes a vow to stop drinking and this vow allows him to change his life for the better.
  • He prospers and becomes the Mayor of Casterbridge as well as  a successful business man.
  • However as the twenty-one years pass he returns to drinking again and loses focus.
  • He becomes self destructive and he wastes away.
  • He ends up alone and with no one and no love in his life.
  • Henchard makes impromptu decisions while he trying to outwit Farfrae.

4.2.5 Death

  • Hardy uses death to show us that life sometimes begins after a loss.
  • He portrays death as a wake-up call to the living which helps them to start living better.
  • Lucetta's death pains Donald to the point that he breaks down but he later recovers and moves on.
  • After Susan's death Henchard is able to move on and pursue Lucetta.

4.2.6 Honour

  • After eighteen years of not being with his wife and child Henchard is happy that they have returned.
  • However he is not prepared to have their past exposed.
  • He is more worried about his honour and how the people of Casterbridge will react to his past and to the fact that he once sold Susan and Elizabeth-Jane.
  • He plans to keep his past a secret and he pretends to have developed an interest in Susan.
  • He is a man who is always concerned about his name; he values his honour more than anything.
  • The morning after he sold his wife and daughter he is more worried whether or not he had said his name during the sale.
  • He does not want anything ruining his good name as it is honour that builds ambition.
  • It is because of his honour that he convinces Farfrae to stay in Casterbridge.
  • And when Farfrae threatens to take away his honour he becomes self destructive.

4.2.7 Forgiveness

  • It is human nature to fail to move on when one has not forgiven themselves.
  • Henchard does not forgive himself for selling his wife thus he fails to remarry.
  • He punishes himself by quitting alcohol.
  • Henchard failed to love Elizabeth because she was not his biological daughter but on his death bed all he wanted was her forgiveness.
  • Elizabeth forgives Henchard for lying to her about Newson but her forgiveness is given too late because she finds Henchard two hours after he had passed on. 

4.3 Themes versus experience

  • The author writes about his experience with death as one of the themes in his novel.
  • Hardy fails to deal with the death of his first wife, he finds himself writing poems about her and visiting her grave often.
  • This is the same situation Donald finds himself in, he grieves for Lucetta he even cries and finds it difficult to move on.
  • The author uses the theme of love to show us how sometimes love can make one do crazy things, for example Henchard tries to blackmaile Lucetta into marring him, he threatens her and tries to force her to honour her promise to marry him.
  • In the book we see how jealousy is a green eyed monster. It is because of his jealous nature that Henchard ends up being self destructive. 
  • He is jealous and competitive, throws a party the same day as Donald and in the end his party is a flop.
  • Some of the events in the novel were drawn from real experiences of Hardy's life. 

4.4 The authors’ intention

  • Hardy wanted to give the reader an insight of how life can be sometimes complicated.
  • He uses marriage to show how two people can find themselves in an unhealthy union.
  • Hardy shows how alcohol can lead one into making insane decisions for example; how Henchard sold his wife and daughter while he was under the influence of alcohol.
  • Hardy in his novel shows how marriage is fickle; Henchard though he remarries his first wife finds himself in love with Lucetta and stays with Susan though he is not happy.
  • Susan on the other hand does not tell Henchard that Elizabeth -Jane is not his biological daughter for fear of being rejected; she builds her marriage on a lie.
  • Hardy in his novel shows how one cannot escape his or her fate.
  • It is fate which controls people's lives.
  • Henchard is destined to be married to Susan, this is shown through Henchard not remarrying after he had sold Susan.
  • He stays for eighteen years not married though he had been involved in a relationship with Lucetta.
  •  He is reunited with Susan after eighteen years but as fate would have it he remarries her.
  • Donald was on his way to America but he was destined to be in Casterbridge, he meets Henchard who convinces him to stay and gives him a job he had promised to Jopp.
  • For Henchard fate was working against him, his decision to employ Donald works against him as in the long run it is Donald who takes over his job as Mayor, his business and the woman he loves.
  • Fate also works against Elizabeth -Jane when she meets Lucetta at her mother’s grave and Lucetta takes her in as well as take Farfrae from her.
  • However after Lucetta's death Elizabeth and Donald find their way back to each other and they marry.
  • For Henchard fate has it that he is poor by nature , the way he is first introduced in the story as a poor man is the same way he ends up dying at the end of the novel poor and alone.
  • Even after all his hard work and how he had managed to be successful and gained himself a name the book ends with him being in the same state as it began.
  • Through the theme of fate he wanted to show how people have no actual control over some of the things that happen in their lives. 
  • Hardy also intended to show that jealousy is a recipe for disaster.
  • He wanted to teach the reader that no matter how high you have achieved in life sometimes you can wake up with nothing. 
  • Hardy through his novel teaches us how the keeping of secrets can be destructive and can lead to broken families.
  • Henchard despised Elizabeth for not being her biological daughter.
  • Susan kept Elizabeth`s true identity from Henchard but when he discovered the truth he despised her.
  • Henchard also deceives Elizabeth and Newson and when she discovers it she also despises him and he ends up dying alone.
  • While his step daughter gets a happy ever after by marrying the man she loved.


Objectives: By the end of this subtopic learners should be able to:

  • Give an account of the author’s background.
  • Relate the author’s background to the text.
  • Give inferences on the aforementioned.

    5.1 History of author

    • Thomas Hardy was born on the 2nd of June 1840 in England and died in January 11 1928.
    • Hardy and Emma Gifford were married in 1874 against the wishes of both their families.
    • They moved a lot in their first years of marriage sometimes living in London and other times in Dorset.
    • Hardy was from a very  poor background and thus found it hard to establish himself as a member of the professional middle class.
    • Emma Hardy died in 1912 after 20 years of domestic estrangement from her husband.
    • In 1914 he later married Florence Emily Dugdale who was 38 years his junior.
    • He dabbled in novels and poetry.
    • He was also a very famous architect.
    • Some of the novels to his name include; Jude the Obscure, Far from the Madding crowd, The Woodlanders, A Pair of Blue eyes, Two on a Tower among others.

    5.2 History versus text analysis.

    • The book Mayor of Casterbridge is a representative of Thomas Hardy's life.
    • We see Hardy through the character of Donald Farfrae.
    • From his biography Hardy came from a poor background his parents failed to pay for him to finish school.
    • Hardy lived a nomadic life just like his characters, he was always travelling.
    • Donald just like Hardy is a person who represents the poor labourers.
    • He shares the same poor background with his characters, he was an apprentice to James Hicks just like Donald who was an apprentice to Henchard.
    • Both Hardy and Donald excelled in their training and became very successful businessman.
    • Hardy won prizes from the royal institute of British architects and the architectural association and he was given a huge contrac,t he was placed in charge of excavation of the graveyard.
    • Hardy was from Dorchester but he made his success while staying in London, just like Donald who was from Scotland but he made his success while staying in Casterbridge.  
    • Both men were foreigners who become successful.
    • He is conscious of class division and his social inferiority thus he works hard and concentrates so much on gaining wealth for himself.
    • He shares the same experience with marriage as Donald, the death of his wife had a traumatic effect on him.
    • They were both really hurt.
    • After a year they both remarried. Hardy married his secretary, Donald waited a year and married Elizabeth who was Lucetta's friend.
    • Their second marriages were to people who were close to them, they did not marry strangers.
    • They both married young wives.
    • Hardy's history influenced the ideas and characters in his novel.