Redemption and Reconciliation in The Mayor of Casterbridge Essay

1498 Words 6 Pages
Redemption and Reconciliation in The Mayor of Casterbridge

In Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, rejection and reconciliation is a consistent theme. During the Victorian era, Michael Henchard, a common hat trusser, becomes Mayor of the town of Casterbridge, Wessex. However, his position does not prevent him from making a series of mistakes that ultimately lead to his downfall. Henchard’s daughter, Elizabeth Jane Newson, is affected by her father’s choices and is not spared any disappointing consequences. In the novel, the characters of Henchard and Elizabeth Jane both experience the pain of rejection in its different forms and discover reconciliation from that rejection.

Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane similarly endure
…show more content…
Upon Newson’s quiet arrival, Henchard announces that he is leaving Casterbridge which makes Elizabeth-Jane feel rejected all over again. Noticing the treatment she receives from Henchard compared to the treatment Lucetta receives “she could not help asking what she had done to be neglected so, after the professions of solicitude he [Henchard] had made”(250). Elizabeth’s question is a legitimate one. It must be acknowledged that, when contrasting the two characters, Elizabeth does no wrong to deserve rejection whereas Henchard wrongs his daughter and deserves the rejection he receives.

Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane feel pain because of rejection by others; however, that pain isn’t lessened when they do the rejecting. In the opening of the novel, Henchard rejects Susan and his responsibility to the child. However, this rejection is unintentional because he is under the influence of alcohol. We can see that Henchard regrets his actions when he searches for his wife and daughter. Later, Henchard regrets his actions when he searches for his wife and daughter. Later, Henchard rejects Elizabeth-Jane because his parental pride is hurt when he finds out, through a letter from Susan that he was not meant to read until Elizabeth-Jane’s wedding day, that she is
Open Document