What Does the Opening Chapter of the Mayor of Casterbridge Reveal to Us About the Characters, Issues to Come in the Novel and Hardy's Style?

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come in the novel and Hardy's style?

In the first chapter of the Mayor of Casterbridge, the main characters are introduced to us from the outset (a young family with a small child approaching the village of Weydon-Priors,) with the opening line informing the reader immediately of fundamental characters in the story. Thomas Hardy then immediately moves on to establish the protagonist, prior to conveying images of the village setting to the reader. Thus, Hardy suggests to the reader that the main attention of the novel will be on this man only and the way in which the setting and other characters influence him. This immediate attention on Henchard helps to reinforce and illustrate that the sub title of the novel is "The life and death
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The secrecy of Henchard's action discloses to the reader that he is disingenuous and has a deviant nature. Henchard is unscrupulous too, "It has been done elsewhere…" here Henchard is referring to the wife sale, this exemplifies his unscrupulousness because he does not see anything wrong with this action as it has happened previously.

Hardy also portrays quite strongly to the audience, the idea that Henchard is a selfish character who is merely concerned with self preservation "She shall take the girl…I'll take my tools…" Henchard displays no concern for his daughter and all he concerns himself with is his tools as this is linked to his livelihood, shows he worries about self-protection but not about the needs of others. His selfish nature as well as greedy character is shown when he demands the money: "Saying is one thing, and paying is another. Where's the money?" Henchard uses a demanding and quite harsh tone suggesting he is greedy and concerned with materialistic possessions, this is revealing of how little he thinks of his wife he only sees her worth as a value of money. In York notes, by Rebecca Warren "many critics feel that Hardy's portrayal of Michael Henchard

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