The Mayor of Casterbridge By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Chapter 27 - Henchard Forces Lucetta to Consent

Summary

Farfrae begins buying grain now that promise of a fair harvest has driven prices down. The weather quickly turns damp, and it is clear that Farfrae has once again been shrewd.

An accident occurs beneath Lucetta's window, involving Henchard's and Donald's hay wagons. Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane both side with Donald's driver. Henchard is brought to the scene where he gives instructions to Constable Stubberd. The constable tells him that there is only one case pending in the town court, that of a disorderly old woman. Henchard tells him that he will hear the case in the absence from town of Mayor Chalkfield.

After setting things right for the moment, Henchard attempts to call on Lucetta, who has returned home. She sends word that she has "an engagement to go out."

Henchard decides to wait in the shadows in order to learn if Donald might be her caller. Donald arrives at nine o'clock, and together he and Lucetta walk to the fields where the townsmen are reaping by moonlight. Henchard decides to follow them. The couple take a twisting route and soon double back upon Henchard who is forced to hide. From hiding he hears them declare their love for each other. He leaves and returns to Lucetta's home. Without knocking he enters the house and waits for her. Upon her return he threatens to reveal the past if she refuses to marry him. With Elizabeth-Jane as a witness, Lucetta agrees to the marriage. Lucetta faints, and Elizabeth-Jane upbraids Henchard for forcing her, for Lucetta "cannot bear much." Henchard leaves, and Elizabeth-Jane remains baffled by the strong hold he has over Lucetta.

Analysis

Donald's business prosperity rankles morbidly in Henchard's mind. Hardy again emphasizes Henchard's "fetichism" by showing him wondering if someone has placed a curse on him. Henchard even believes that Donald will soon become mayor. We see that Henchard's brutal threat of blackmail against Lucetta is not a result of his desire to marry her, but of an unholy wish to beat Farfrae, to hurt him, to take something away from him. As usual, there is no love motivating Henchard's behavior.

Glossary

zwailing swaying, shifting.

gawk-hammer way awkward, ridiculous.

"you would have zeed me!" you would have seen me.

thill horse the horse which is harnessed between the shafts of the wagon.

dand The word "dandy" is left uncompleted.

giddying in a rotating or whirling fashion.

no'thern a dialect word; wandering in mind, or incoherent.

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