The Mayor Of Casterbridge By Thomas Hardy Is A Novel That

1634 WordsMay 5, 20177 Pages
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy is a novel that gives insight into the minds and relationships of its characters such as Michael Henchard. Through Hardy, the reader sees that Henchard’s self-concept is dependent on his status as a family figure and status as a public figure. Here, self-concept is defined as a person’s thoughts, beliefs, and feelings about oneself. His status of a family figure means being a provider and a father and his status as a public figure means being successful and powerful. His interactions with others is dependent on his self-concept. Both status as a family figure and status as a public figure fluctuate, which causes Henchard 's self-concept to fluctuate. The fluctuation of Henchard’s self-concept…show more content…
At this point in Henchard’s life, his wife Susan had died, he had lost Lucetta to Farfrae, and he had destroyed the relationship he had with Farfrae. Out of loneliness, he begins to long for Elizabeth-Jane’s. He accepts that he is not Elizabeth-Jane’s biological father, but realizes that he can act like he is because Elizabeth-Jane does not know the truth. Henchard, out of selfish intent, puts on the air that he fits into his original view of his status as a family figure even though he is very far from it. The impact of Henchard’s fluctuating self-concept is seen in the different ways that he treats Elizabeth-Jane. His attitude towards her moves from warm and caring to cold and distant and back again. While he believes that he is Elizabeth-Jane’s biological father, Henchard is warm and caring towards Elizabeth-Jane. This can be seen by them taking frequent walks together. He, however, does not show his full affection to Elizabeth-Jane though actions such as kissing her cheek because he is viewed as her stepfather by the townspeople and by Elizabeth-Jane herself. After Henchard convinces Elizabeth-Jane that he is her biological father, he reads a posthumous letter from Susan saying otherwise. Instead of feeling joy at being able to show his full affection the next day “…it was no less than a miserable insipidity to him now that it had come” (Chapter 19, para.34). The change in his self-concept of himself as her biological father cast a shadow over their budding
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