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The Mayor of Casterbridge

The Mayor of Casterbridge

by Thomas Hardy

Love Theme

If there are a lot of marriages without love in The Mayor of Casterbridge, there's also a lot of love without marriage. Lucetta falls in love with Henchard, then their marriage is postponed and then canceled altogether. Elizabeth-Jane crushes on Farfrae from afar for most of the novel. Henchard's loathing for his stepdaughter gradually morphs into a kind of hopeless, protective, and jealous love. She might be the only person Henchard ever really learns to love.

Questions About Love

  1. What does Lucetta originally see in Henchard? Why does she fall in love with him?
  2. Why does Elizabeth-Jane fall in love with Farfrae so quickly? What attracts her to him?
  3. Why does Farfrae fall in love with Lucetta?
  4. After treating Elizabeth-Jane like dirt for most of the novel, Henchard suddenly realizes how awesome she is after Lucetta dies. He then suddenly becomes a doting and affectionate father figure. What makes him change?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

When Elizabeth-Jane first falls in love with Farfrae, it is in part because "he seemed to feel exactly as she felt about life" (8.33). In a sense, therefore, her love for him is really a narcissistic love of herself.

Elizabeth-Jane's affection for Farfrae is so pure that she is not willing to cause either him or Lucetta pain by acknowledging her jealousy and disappointment.

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