The Mayor of Casterbridge, Essential Revision Notes
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Table of Contents
The Mayor of Casterbridge tells the story of one man’s fall and another’s rise. Indeed, Henchard’s fortune seems inversely proportional to Farfrae’s: whatever Henchard loses, Farfrae gains. Is this a believable exchange? If not, is there something more important than realism suggested by Henchard’s relationship with Farfrae? 18
Discuss the role of coincidence in the novel. Many critics of Hardy have argued that the astonishing coincidences throughout The Mayor of Casterbridge make the story improbable and unbelievable. Do you think this is the case? 19
Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, in Higher Bockhampton in Dorset, a rural region of southwestern England that was to become the focus of his fiction. The child of a builder, Hardy was apprenticed at the age of sixteen to John Hicks, an architect who lived in the city of Dorchester. The location would later serve as the model for Hardy’s fictional Casterbridge. Although Hardy gave serious thought to attending university and entering the church, a struggle he would dramatize in his 1895 novel Jude the Obscure, his declining religious fa...