As the novel’s protagonist, Henchard is the “Man
of Character” to whom the subtitle of The Mayor of Casterbridge
When the novel opens, Henchard is a disconsolate twenty-one-year-old
hay-trusser who, in a drunken rage, sells his wife and daughter
at a county fair. Eighteen years later, Henchard has risen to become
the mayor and the most accomplished corn merchant in the town of Casterbridge.
Although he tries to atone for his youthful crimes, he focuses too
much on his past misdeeds and enters a downward trajectory that embroils
him in a fierce competition with a popular Scotchman named Donald
in-depth analysis of Michael Henchard.
The daughter of Susan and Newson. Elizabeth-Jane
bears the same name as the child born to Susan and Henchard, who
actually dies shortly after Henchard sells Susan and his daughter.
Over the course of the novel, the independent and self-possessed Elizabeth-Jane
transforms herself from an unrefined country girl into a cultured
young lady. Though she experiences much hardship over the course
of the novel, she maintains an even temperament throughout.
in-depth analysis of Elizabeth-Jane Newson.
Scotchman who arrives in Casterbridge at the same time as Susan
Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane. Farfrae’s business efficiency, good
humor, and polish make him extremely popular among the town’s citizens.
These same qualities, however, eventually make him Henchard’s rival.
Despite this tension in their friendship, Farfrae remains fair-minded,
patient, and even kind in his dealings with the ruined Henchard.
in-depth analysis of Donald Farfrae.
A woman whom Henchard meets, courts, and proposes
to marry. Lucetta bucks convention, choosing to love whom she pleases
when she pleases. Like Henchard, she is guided by her emotions,
and her reactions are thus not always rational.
in-depth analysis of Lucetta Templeman.
meek, unassuming woman married to Michael Henchard when the novel
opens. Overly concerned with propriety, Susan attempts to keep secrets
about Henchard’s and Elizabeth-Jane’s identities in order to give
the appearance of perfect family harmony.
sailor who buys Susan and Elizabeth-Jane from Henchard. Newson is
absent for most of the novel; his eventual reappearance contributes
to the feeling that Henchard is besieged by fate.
in-depth analysis of Newson.
man Henchard intends to hire as his assistant before meeting Farfrae.
of the workers in Henchard’s hay-yard. Whittle is also the source
of the first disagreement between Henchard and Farfrae, as Farfrae
thinks that Henchard is too rough with Whittle when he is constantly
late for work.
One of Henchard’s creditors.
A peasant in Casterbridge. Coney represents the
bleak reality of peasant life.
A peasant who is instrumental in planning the skimmity-ride.
A peasant in Casterbridge.
A peasant in Casterbridge.