The Mayor of Casterbridge By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Chapter 33 - Henchard's Resentment Is Inflamed

Summary

One Sunday Henchard takes part in the after-church discussion and song-fest which the townspeople and the choir members hold at the Three Mariners. He sees Donald and Lucetta leaving church, and under the influence of drink, forces the members of the choir to sing one of the Psalms, which contains a curse against the man of "ill-got riches." When Farfrae passes, Henchard tells the dismayed company that the curse was meant for him. Elizabeth-Jane arrives and takes Henchard home. While walking with him she hears Henchard make veiled threats against Donald. She resolves to warn Donald as soon as it becomes necessary.

Henchard's misery is intensified by the pitying looks he gets from Abel Whittle. Elizabeth-Jane offers to help Henchard in Abel's place. Her reason for helping is to observe Henchard and Donald when they come face to face. One day Lucetta accompanies Donald into the yard, but wanders away and accidentally confronts Henchard. Henchard bitterly feigns servility to Lucetta. The next morning Henchard receives a note from Lucetta which asks him to behave with less bitterness toward her if they should meet again.

Henchard realizes that this letter places Lucetta in a compromising position, but he destroys it rather than use it against her.

Elizabeth-Jane begins to bring Henchard tea in order to keep him away from stronger drink. One day she arrives to find Henchard and Donald standing near the open door on the top floor of the corn building. Elizabeth-Jane sees Henchard make a furtive gesture as if he intended to push Donald out the opening to his death. This so frightens her that she resolves to inform Donald of her stepfather's mental state.

Analysis

This chapter shows Henchard becoming more and more bold in his threats against Farfrae as a result of his heavy drinking. As time passes, Donald begins to look upon Henchard as an ordinary worker. Of course this is a hint that such an attitude will have its effect upon Henchard. The one implausible element in the chapter is Lucetta's ignorance of Henchard's employment. Even though Donald has taken pains to ignore the new relationship between Henchard and himself, in a town which seems to thrive upon gossip it would appear strange that such a newsworthy item as Henchard's ironic employment had not reached Lucetta's ears. Even stranger is the fact that Donald has not informed her.

The loft is a vivid and appropriate setting for the incident Elizabeth-Jane spies when bringing tea.

Glossary

Stonehenge a famous monument dating back to prehistoric times, consisting of stone pillars placed in a circular fashion.

"We've let back our strings . . ." We've loosened the strings (on the instruments).

rantipole rubbish rough or boisterous language or verses sung to accompany a procession which contains an acted out scene of a man beating his wife ( the rantipole ride).

trap a trap-door.

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After Michael sells his wife, he pledges never to drink alcohol for how long?




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