The Mayor of Casterbridge
How we cite our quotes:
"What bitterness lies there!" (45.29)
Elizabeth-Jane is saddened but not surprised by the "bitterness" expressed in her stepfather's final will. She knows how much disappointment there was in his life.
She knew the directions to be a piece of the same stuff that his whole life was made of, and hence were not to be tampered with to give herself a mournful pleasure, or her husband credit for large-heartedness. (45.29)
Elizabeth-Jane respects her stepfather's final wishes. She knows that he meant what he said – he really was that bitter in his final hours.
And in being forced to class herself among the fortunate she did not cease to wonder at the persistence of the unforeseen, when the one to whom such unbroken tranquility had been accorded in the adult stage was she whose youth had seemed to teach that happiness was but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain. (45.32)
The final lines of the novel reflect the pervading sense of dissatisfaction. Elizabeth-Jane, we're told, has learned that "happiness" is the exception in life, not the rule. Most of life is filled with "pain." Not a very cheerful note to end on, is it?