Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge Essay

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Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Sex is so intertwined in our society that it pervades each facet, including television, books, advertising, and conversation. Movies like The Matrix toss in gratuitous sex because the audience nearly expects it. Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, therefore, is exceptional in its lack of sexual situations. The subject of sexual motivation and its inherent ambiguity with regard to Henchard's actions is a topic that caught my attention from the very first pages of The Mayor of Casterbridge. Continually in the novel there is tension, but it is never described as sexual. Much the same, there are countless marriages during the novel but no related sexual attraction is discussed. The
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It seems that for Henchard, "maturity involves a kind of assimilation of female suffering, an identification with a woman which is also an effort to come to terms with with [his] own deepest sel[f]" (Showalter, 394). It is not until the end of the novel that Henchard realizes this, withdraws from society, and loses his will to live. However, his wrongdoings are not completely restricted to women. For this reason, I believe that this indicates not misdirected sexual energy, but a general lack of knowledge.

Henchard's act of selling his wife had clearly been mentioned between husband and wife prior to the actual incident, but that does not mean that it was well thought out. In fact, it seems that Henchard rarely thought things out to a full extent. Selling his wife in the first place would lead me to believe that he never loved Susan at all.

"I married at eighteen, like the fool that I was; and this is the consequence. But a fellow never knows these little things till all chance of acting upon 'em is past" (9).

Further, this quote shows that Henchard did not even think thoroughly about marrying Susan. He claims that he was a fool because he was eighteen; I say that at this point in the novel, he had not grown emotionally in the least.

Likewise, Henchard's relationship with Lucetta seems to be centered on a debt he felt he owed her for
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