The Mayor of Casterbridge: by Thomas Hardy - Summary

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THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE (1886)

      In a state of intoxication Michael Henchard a grass cutter, sells his wife and child to Newson for five guineas. When the effect of wine vanishes and he comes to his senses, he repents much. He pledges not to touch wine for at least twenty years. Purity must prosper. His labor and sincerity bring fruits and he becomes rich and then the Mayor of the town-Casterbridge. Once Newson goes to foreign lands and does not return for a long time. He is taken to be dead. After eighteen years Henchard's wife and her daughter Elizabeth Jane return to him. Henchard supposes that Elizabeth is his daughter but she is Newson's. All the trouble in the novel emerges due to the wrong headedness of Henchard. Donald Farfrae was a good hand to him in business though he was not of a similar temperament. Henchard quarrels with him. He steps in competition after being separated and beats Henchard in business. After the death of his wife, Henchard comes to know about the reality of his daughter. In the absence of his wife he had fallen in love with Lucetta and was about to marry, when his wife returns. Now, again he proposes to her but she is won by Farfrae who was then richer than Henchard. In frustration, Henchard again starts drinking. The story of the sale of his wife comes to light and he remains no more a Mayor. The step-daughter is his only comfort, and he lives with her but Newson comes and claims her. Henchard becomes lonelier and more desolate in the hut of Weydon Priors.

      The love story of Lucetta and Henchard also becomes public after her marriage. She finds no way except dying in a fit of hysteria. Newson agrees to the union of Farfrae and Elizabeth and they are wedded. Henchard comes to Casterbridge to see the wedding of Elizabeth but is treated very badly by Elizabeth. He returns totally dejected and dies after some time.

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