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The Mayor of Casterbridge

The Mayor of Casterbridge


by Thomas Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge Chapter 41 Summary

  • Elizabeth-Jane comes to see Henchard and tell him the bad news about Lucetta.
  • Henchard appreciates the fact that she came to tell him in person.
  • She looks tired because she was up half the night, so he tells her to take a nap in the other room while he fixes her some breakfast.
  • She's surprised and pleased that he's being so nice to her, and she could definitely use a nap, so she agrees.
  • While she's asleep, a sailor comes to the door.
  • He says his name is Newson.
  • Henchard is obviously shocked.
  • Newson reminds Henchard of their transaction back at the Weydon Fair twenty years earlier.
  • Henchard says he's ashamed to remember it, and Newson feels the same way.
  • He says he has come to make amends.
  • He explains that Susan had thought for a long time that the sale was binding, so she was content to live faithfully as his wife.
  • But when a friend heard the story and told her she was being stupid, Susan was discontent and worried.
  • When Newson got back and saw how Susan's attitude had changed, he felt guilty.
  • On his next sailing cruise, he had some really bad weather. He decided not to go home and to let Susan think he'd drowned.
  • He figured then she'd be free to go find Henchard, or do whatever she wanted, since she was no longer happy living as his wife.
  • Newson has heard that Susan died, but he wants to know where Elizabeth-Jane is.
  • On an impulse, Henchard says that Elizabeth-Jane is dead too.
  • Newson is sorry – he has made a lot of money and wanted to give it to Elizabeth-Jane.
  • Henchard doesn't back down, and Newson leaves town.
  • Elizabeth-Jane wakes up fresh as a daisy and very grateful to the man she still believes is her father for having made her breakfast.
  • Henchard wants to have a real relationship with Elizabeth-Jane again, but now he's terrified that Newson will find out the truth and come back.
  • If Elizabeth-Jane ever finds out that he lied to Newson to keep them apart, she'll never forgive him.
  • Later that day, Henchard is hanging out down by the bridge again.
  • He sees his own body down in the water! This totally creeps him out.
  • He finds Elizabeth-Jane and brings her to the bridge to show her.
  • Of course, it's only the model of him from the skimmity-ride. Someone must have dumped it in the river when the constable broke up the parade.
  • But Henchard thinks it's a sign from heaven.
  • Elizabeth-Jane and Henchard move in together.

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