Reading Response To The Mayor Of Casterbridge By Thomas Hardy

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

The setting of Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, is very important to the novel as a whole. As the story is set in the 1800’s in rural England, readers are told in chapter 11 that the town occupies what used to be a Roman camp. In addition, Casterbridge sits adjacent to abundant farmland which proves itself as one of the few sources of job opportunities for the residents. The fact that Casterbridge is honed in on agriculture as a driving source of revenue limits many of the characters’ growth as individuals and for the town as a whole. Many of the people do not have a choice as to what they do for a living, the answer has always been farming. I have not felt this way about the area in which I live. My parents have provided countless opportunities for my growth as an individual. From where I can attend high school and college, to the choices I have in the lacrosse teams I play for, my parents have provided it all for me. Therefore, I do not feel limited in what I can do in the future, like many of the people in Casterbridge do.

The narrator of The Mayor of Casterbridge makes an observation about the protagonist, Michael Henchard: “But most probably luck had nothing to do with it. Character is fate.” I define fate as something that is meant to be. I think that my idea of fate does not relate perfectly to Michael Henchard’s rise and fall in this novel. My reasoning behind this is because Henchard makes choices that lead him down a falling path. If something were fate, then it would just happen and that person would have no control over it. However, Henchard made the decision to ruin his family and that led to the death of his beloved daughter. This was not fate, but rather a result of poor decision making on Michael’s part. Additionally, Henchard decides to turn his life around and away from alcoholism. This was a choice made by him, it was not fate that led him to make this change in his life.

Irony is abundantly used by Thomas Hardy in The Mayor of Casterbridge. Some instances are far more obvious, while others are more subtle. An obvious ironic scene in this novel is when Michael Henchard finds out that Elizabeth-Jane is not in fact his actual daughter but Richard Newson is her real father. At least when I was reading the novel I did not see this coming. In addition to Newson being in the aforementioned ironic scene, he unpredictably returns into the story. When Newson makes a return into the novel, it is very ironic because many would have thought him to be gone. Thomas Hardy proves time and time again that he loves to keep the readers on the edge of their seats. Without the unpredictability that is exhibited in this novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge would not be the masterpiece that it is.

I most certainly agree with Hardy’s idea that there is always a price to pay for one’s actions. This is the way in which people learn from their mistakes. If someone were to do something wrong and not be reprimanded for it, then the behavior continues and that person does not get any better. There is a quote that states, “What you tolerate, you encourage.” This idea is engraved in the legal system that governs our nation. People break the law and then they must pay the price. Paying the price is the best way to ensure that people do not keep making the same mistake. A very simple way in which I have had to pay the price later for is when I decide to put off work until a later time. It is easy in the moment to say I will do it later, but then later comes around and I have so much work piled up and I can never get through it. This translates to worse grades than I would have otherwise gotten if I just did the work when I was supposed to. 


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