The Mayor of Casterbridge By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Chapter 43 - Henchard Leaves Casterbridge

Summary

Henchard realizes that the town is filled with gossip about Donald and Elizabeth-Jane. The "philosophic party" among the rustics are the only ones entirely pleased at the thought of their marriage. Henchard begins to worry about the life he will lead once the two are married. One day he goes to spy with a telescope on Donald and Elizabeth-Jane, but discovers Newson waiting instead of the two lovers.

Henchard returns and Elizabeth-Jane tells him of a letter she has received requesting her to meet a stranger on the Budmouth Road or at Farfrae's house in the evening. Henchard realizes that the stranger is Newson come to claim his daughter. Michael immediately says to her "as if he did not care about her" that he is leaving Casterbridge. Despite her pleas, Henchard will not reconsider and at dusk he leaves town once more as an itinerant hay-trusser. She accompanies him a short distance and sadly bids him farewell. As she is returning to Casterbridge, Donald meets her and brings her to his home where she is reunited with Newson. After Newson informs her that Henchard had lied about her death, Elizabeth-Jane's feelings toward Henchard grow cold and bitter. She and Donald actually turn against Michael so strongly that Newson takes his part. However, the past is put aside for the moment and preparations for the wedding are begun.

Analysis

One wonders how Newson had discovered Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane. Hardy leaves out this incident possibly to prevent the inclusion of another chance occurrence. Yet Hardy may have skipped over these details to bring the climactic moment to a faster resolution and to make a number of points. The focus remains on Henchard and his emotional suffering. Because Henchard has learned to sacrifice for love and is truly suffering in expiation for his sins, the sympathy shifts directly upon him, and the reader begins to experience a more intense pity for the one-time esteemed Mayor of Casterbridge.

Glossary

éclat distinction or brilliance (French).

Mai Dun a large fortress of the ancient Britons.

via road, path (Latin).

Cain in genesis: for killing his brother Abel, Cain was branded (Mark of Cain) and cursed by God to wander among men, and to be shunned by them.

schiedam gin (named after the town in Holland where it had been made).

Glossary

éclat distinction or brilliance (French).

Mai Dun a large fortress of the ancient Britons.

via road, path (Latin).

Cain in genesis: for killing his brother Abel, Cain was branded (Mark of Cain) and cursed by God to wander among men, and to be shunned by them.

schiedam gin (named after the town in Holland where it had been made).

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




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