Character Analysis Michael Henchard


Michael Henchard is a strong man with great energy. He has fine points in his character, but they are contrasted sharply with other less admirable qualities. Thus, he will try to make up for what he has done to Susan, but he will still remain rash and impetuous in his dealings with people. He is honest and upright, so much so that he insists on binding one of his arms when fighting Farfrae, and he refuses to hide one cent of his property from the administrators of his bankrupt business. Even the administrators praise his honesty. He is generous and kind to Abel Whittle's mother. Donald Farfrae owes much to Henchard's giving him a start. These are but a few instances of Henchard's honesty and generosity.

But the darker side of Henchard's character is even more evident. He has no compunction in punishing Abel Whittle too severely for lateness, and the quality of his kindness and friendship to Farfrae becomes overbearing and possessive. His pride is noteworthy, but often it grows into hideous egoism. Thus, his pride refuses to let him reveal his past to Elizabeth-Jane, and at the end of the novel he cannot bring himself to tell her the true account of his lie to Newson. Again, it is his pride which prompts the rivalry and jealousy he feels toward Donald Farfrae. But, despite obvious flaws in his character, Henchard has the ability to love deeply. He achieves the strength to take silently upon himself the suffering caused by his own sins, and it is this will to endure the wrath of the heavens that gives him great stature.