The Mayor of Casterbridge displays a theme of human flaws

The Mayor of Casterbridge is a read for any adult.

The Mayor of Casterbridge is a read for any adult.

  Widely considered one of his masterpieces as an author, Thomas Hardy writes The Mayor of Casterbridge in 1886 where in the novel’s first chapter, the  protagonist Michael Henchard, sells his own wife and child to the highest bidder: an unknown sailor for five guineas. Hardy details the story of Michael Henchard, where Henchard tragically falls victim to his own decision making and self destructive tendencies. Eighteen years later, he once again is given the opportunity to see them again and to rewrite his wrongs, but in the case of Henchard, it is never quite that simple. A series of poor decisions and chain of events will cause Henchard to encounter the consequences of his actions, but can Henchard overcome his deficiencies and finally come to a happy conclusion? 

   Hardy does an excellent job of displaying a theme of human flaws, and an individual ultimately succumbing to their own hamartia. This is shown through decision making throughout the novel, primarily through Henchard. It begins with him in the beginning of the novel, selling his wife Susan, and his daughter Elizabeth-Jane. Susan hints this behavior has occurred before, further showing he is shown an inability to change his behavior. Eighteen years later, Henchard is still making mistakes, where he shows the difficulty it is for him to change and not conform to his past behavior. This ultimately prohibits from writing his wrongs.

 Hardy draws from his own life experiences, as during his life he had difficulties in relationships with other people, primarily women. This reflects Henchard’s difficulties to form a sustainable relationship with Susan or Lucetta, as he makes decisions negatively impacted both characters. Hardy also had difficulties in staying in a particular location, as he moved multiple times, from the suburbs to Dorchester and other areas. This is paralleled to Henchard never truly being comfortable due to his deceit and shameful past. Never does Henchard truly live without worry and continues to worry about his image.

  A common criticism of the novel is that there is perhaps too many surprising moments, taking away from the novel’s realism. But this novel maintains an aspect of life where events happen out of an individual’s control. 

   Mayor of Casterbridge is an overall excellent novel to sit down and read, as there are constant twists and turns in each chapter, throughout the novel. Hardy does an excellent job of making sure the reader is always kept in interest and caught off guard, and at very few times is there a dull moment.