An Essay on Modernism vs. Traditionalism in the Mayor of Casterbridge

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An Essay on Modernism vs. Traditionalism in The Mayor of Casterbridge During the first half of the 19th century English society was making the difficult transition from a pre-industrial Britain to ‘modern' Victorian times. In agriculture, most of the transition took place around 1846 with the repeal of the corn laws. This allowed foreign grain to be imported into England for the first time. Consequently, the entire structure and methods of agriculture in Britain were greatly altered. Much of the action in Thomas Hardy's novel The Mayor of Casterbridge takes place during the years surrounding 1846. These were the years in which traditionalists took their last stand before being defeated in the name of progress. The contrasts between…show more content…
‘He asked me, and he questioned me, and then 'a wouldn't hear my points!' said Abel, to the yard in general. ‘Now, I shall twitch like a moment-hand all night long to-night for fear o' him!' (p. 94-95). A traditional form of respect for their employers found Henchard's employees fearing him as illustrated though Abel Whittle's reaction to Henchard's reprimand. Farfrae however, took a more modern approach by instilling respect in Whittle out of justice. Abel was in the wrong to sleep in. However, Henchard was in the wrong to force the man to go to work without his breeches. I don't care what Mr. Henchard said, nor anybody else! ‘Tis simple foolishness to do this. Go and dress yourself instantly, Whittle [said Farfrae] Farfrae resolved the issue efficiently and with justice which is illustrative of his modern attitude toward an employee reprimand. The contrasting views on business ethics held by Henchard and Farfrae are illustrative of the contrasts between tradition and modernization. Similarly, the contrasting attitudes that Henchard and Farfrae take toward modernization and new developments help to illustrate the conflict of tradition versus modernism in Casterbridge society. As a result of technological progress, a new machine had been developed and introduced to the town of Casterbridge. It was the new-fashioned agricultural implement called a horse drill, till then unknown in its modern shape in this

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