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The Mayor of Casterbridge

The Mayor of Casterbridge


by Thomas Hardy

Michael Henchard Timeline and Summary

  • Twenty-year-old Michael Henchard is traveling with his wife and baby daughter, looking for work.
  • They stop for dinner. He gets drunk, decides having a wife is a drag, and offers to sell her.
  • A random sailor buys her for 5 guineas.
  • Henchard regrets what he did the next day. He can't find his wife or daughter.
  • He swears not to drink alcohol for twenty years.
  • He moves to Casterbridge and starts working as a hay trusser (harvester).
  • He eventually attains success as a hay and grain merchant and becomes the mayor of the town.
  • He travels a lot for business and gets sick while he's in Jersey.
  • A young lady feels sorry for him and helps nurse him back to health.
  • She falls in love with him and doesn't worry about what anyone will think.
  • Henchard goes back to Casterbridge, and the young lady keeps sending him love notes.
  • She asks him to marry her since everyone in Jersey thinks they were sleeping together and her reputation is ruined.
  • He's about to agree when his wife Susan comes back with her daughter.
  • He hires a new manager, Farfrae, to take care of his business.
  • He remarries Susan.
  • Henchard becomes jealous of Farfrae and fires him.
  • Susan dies, and Henchard finds out that Elizabeth-Jane isn't his real daughter, but rather the daughter of the sailor.
  • Henchard sends Elizabeth-Jane away.
  • The young lady from Jersey, Lucetta, comes to Casterbridge after hearing of Susan's death.
  • She still seems to want Henchard to marry her, and he's ready and willing to do so.
  • Henchard figures out that Lucetta must be in love with another man.
  • Henchard's business fails and he declares bankruptcy.
  • He finds out that Lucetta has married Farfrae on the sly.
  • He gets hired as a day laborer for Farfrae. He's even more jealous of him now.
  • He challenges Farfrae to a fight. He wins, but can't bring himself to kill his former friend.
  • Henchard tries to help Lucetta after the skimmity-ride, but no one trusts him anymore.
  • He makes up with Elizabeth-Jane and they move in together again.
  • Then the sailor, Captain Newson, comes back, and Henchard lies to him to make sure Elizabeth will stay with him.
  • Henchard worries that Newson will return and Elizabeth-Jane will find out that Newson is her real father.
  • When Elizabeth-Jane is about to marry Farfrae, Henchard makes up an excuse to leave town.
  • He wanders around for a few weeks and then dies before Elizabeth-Jane can find him.