However, when he realises that he has acted wrongly, feelings of regret and remorse occur. He is seen to intrude on almost all the other characters of the novel, as well as on society in general. From the beginning of the novel right to the end we are presented with a character full of twists and clashing ideals — the worker who wants to become a respected citizen, indifferent to the pain he causes to his family when drunk; the quick-tempered rogue, whose anger quickly turns to remorse at various points in the novel; the lonely isolated man who truly loves the daughter that never was his at the end of the novel.
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The first and foremost character Henchard can be seen to intrude on is Susan, his once lost and then regained wife. This makes a great impression on the reader. By letting Henchard appear phlegmatic, Hardy manages to point the reader to the fact that Henchard, although he should be caring for his family by trying to find work as quickly as he can really only cares for himself. But not only does Henchard intrude on Susan, he also intrudes on the town of Casterbridge.
The Mayor of Casterbridge
This initial impression is underlined by the next two paragraphs, in which Hardy again describes the quaintness of Casterbridge, as opposed to the openness of the surrounding landscape. The reader immediately sees the approaching women as intruding on the closeness of the town — we assume that this feeling was also associated with Henchard when he first entered the town, although no narrative of his first dealings with Casterbridge, and Casterbridge society, is given.
These examples help to demonstrate the fact that Henchard, although most the powerful man in Casterbridge, has qualities in him that are better kept under lock and key — for the best of him, his relationships with other characters especially Susan and Farfrae, but also Elizabeth-Jane , and his social status. This mixture of natural and unnatural character traits further serves to alienate Henchard from his fellow townsmen.
Henchard believes him and thus loses money and prestige, which results in his having to pronounce his bankruptcy and to leave Casterbridge as a broken man. In opposition to Henchard, Donald Farfrae, the charming, romantic stranger, is introduced in chapter 6. He is shown to be generous, attractive, soft-spoken, patriotic, and a fine ballad singer.
He is also ambitious, clever, a whiz at mechanical inventions and, as we soon learn, a superb businessman.
Farfrae is marked as an outsider from his first appearance in the novel. Even Elizabeth-Jane is at once attracted to him.
The Mayor of Casterbridge
The young Scotsman serves as a foil for Henchard. Whereas will and intuition determine the course of Henchard's life, Farfrae is a man of intellect. He brings to Casterbridge a method for salvaging damaged grain, a system for reorganising and revolutionising the mayor's business, and a blend of curiosity and ambition that enables him to take interest in, and advantage of, the agricultural advancements of the day such as the horse-drill.
Although Henchard soon comes to view Farfrae as his adversary, the Scotchman's victories are won more in the name of progress than of personal satisfaction. His primary motive in taking over Casterbridge's grain trade is to make it more prosperous and usher the village into the advancing agricultural economy of the later nineteenth century, rather than to dishonour Henchard.
This was enough to set Elizabeth thinking, and in thinking she seized hold of the idea, at one feminine bound, that the caged bird had been brought by Henchard for her as a wedding gift and token of repentance.
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He had not expressed to her any regrets or excuses for what he had done in the past; but it was a part of his nature to extenuate nothing, and live on as one of his own worst accusers. She went out, looked at the cage, buried the starved little singer, and from that hour her heart softened towards the self-alienated man. When her husband came in she told him her solution of the bird-cage mystery; and begged Donald to help her in finding out, as soon as possible, whither Henchard had banished himself, that she might make her peace with him; try to do something to render his life less that of an outcast, and more tolerable to him.
Although Farfrae had never so passionately liked Henchard as Henchard had liked him, he had, on the other hand, never so passionately hated in the same direction as his former friend had done, and he was therefore not the least indisposed to assist Elizabeth-Jane in her laudable plan.
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But it was by no means easy to set about discovering Henchard. He had apparently sunk into the earth on leaving Mr. Farfrae's door. Elizabeth-Jane remembered what he had once attempted; and trembled.
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But though she did not know it Henchard had become a changed man since then--as far, that is, as change of emotional basis can justify such a radical phrase; and she needed not to fear. In a few days Farfrae's inquiries elicited that Henchard had been seen by one who knew him walking steadily along the Melchester highway eastward, at twelve o'clock at night--in other words, retracing his steps on the road by which he had come. This was enough; and the next morning Farfrae might have been discovered driving his gig out of Casterbridge in that direction, Elizabeth-Jane sitting beside him, wrapped in a thick flat fur--the victorine of the period--her complexion somewhat richer than formerly, and an incipient matronly dignity, which the serene Minerva-eyes of one "whose gestures beamed with mind" made becoming, settling on her face.
Having herself arrived at a promising haven from at least the grosser troubles of her life, her object was to place Henchard in some similar quietude before he should sink into that lower stage of existence which was only too possible to him now. After driving along the highway for a few miles they made further inquiries, and learnt of a road-mender, who had been working thereabouts for weeks, that he had observed such a man at the time mentioned; he had left the Melchester coachroad at Weatherbury by a forking highway which skirted the north of Egdon Heath.
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Into this road they directed the horse's head, and soon were bowling across that ancient country whose surface never had been stirred to a finger's depth, save by the scratchings of rabbits, since brushed by the feet of the earliest tribes. The tumuli these had left behind, dun and shagged with heather, jutted roundly into the sky from the uplands, as though they were the full breasts of Diana Multimammia supinely extended there. They searched Egdon, but found no Henchard. Farfrae drove onward, and by the afternoon reached the neighbourhood of some extension of the heath to the north of Anglebury, a prominent feature of which, in the form of a blasted clump of firs on a summit of a hill, they soon passed under.
That the road they were following had, up to this point, been Henchard's track on foot they were pretty certain; but the ramifications which now began to reveal themselves in the route made further progress in the right direction a matter of pure guess-work, and Donald strongly advised his wife to give up the search in person, and trust to other means for obtaining news of her stepfather.
They were now a score of miles at least from home, but, by resting the horse for a couple of hours at a village they had just traversed, it would be possible to get back to Casterbridge that same day, while to go much further afield would reduce them to the necessity of camping out for the night, "and that will make a hole in a sovereign," said Farfrae. She pondered the position, and agreed with him.
He accordingly drew rein, but before reversing their direction paused a moment and looked vaguely round upon the wide country which the elevated position disclosed. While they looked a solitary human form came from under the clump of trees, and crossed ahead of them. The person was some labourer; his gait was shambling, his regard fixed in front of him as absolutely as if he wore blinkers; and in his hand he carried a few sticks. Having crossed the road he descended into a ravine, where a cottage revealed itself, which he entered.
The possibility led them to alight, and at least make an inquiry at the cottage. Farfrae hitched the reins to the gate-post, and they approached what was of humble dwellings surely the humblest. The walls, built of kneaded clay originally faced with a trowel, had been worn by years of rain-washings to a lumpy crumbling surface, channelled and sunken from its plane, its gray rents held together here and there by a leafy strap of ivy which could scarcely find substance enough for the purpose. The rafters were sunken, and the thatch of the roof in ragged holes.
Leaves from the fence had been blown into the corners of the doorway, and lay there undisturbed. The door was ajar; Farfrae knocked; and he who stood before them was Whittle, as they had conjectured. His face showed marks of deep sadness, his eyes lighting on them with an unfocused gaze; and he still held in his hand the few sticks he had been out to gather.
As soon as he recognized them he started. You see he was kind-like to mother when she wer here below, though 'a was rough to me. Didn't ye know it? He's just gone-- about half-an-hour ago, by the sun; for I've got no watch to my name. He was kind-like to mother when she wer here below, sending her the best ship-coal, and hardly any ashes from it at all; and taties, and such-like that were very needful to her. I seed en go down street on the night of your worshipful's wedding to the lady at yer side, and I thought he looked low and faltering.
Henchard in The Mayor of Casterbridge Essay - Words | Bartleby
And I followed en over Grey's Bridge, and he turned and zeed me, and said, 'You go back! Go back! Then 'a said, 'Whittle, what do ye follow me for when I've told ye to go back all these times?