The Mayor of Casterbridge
The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Marriage

In almost all of his novels, Hardy explores and questions the institution of marriage. We see it from the very beginning of The Mayor of Casterbridge, when Henchard complains about being unhappy in...

Love

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 the...

Friendship

It's hard to say what first attracts Henchard to Farfrae, but whatever it is, he trusts him immediately – not just with his business, but with his personal life and secrets. The two men are p...

Gender

For such a long novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge has relatively few main characters: two men (Henchard and Farfrae) and three women (Susan, Lucetta, and Elizabeth-Jane). Their great differences of...

Memory and the Past

The events of The Mayor of Casterbridge span more than twenty years – most of Henchard's adult life. In a sense, you can read Henchard's downfall as a commentary on the way the past always co...

Man and the Natural World

Casterbridge is about as "natural" of a town as you can imagine. It's set in the middle of agricultural fields and doesn't have a lot of the "unnatural" industrial mills and factories that were spr...

Fate and Free Will

It's clear that almost all of Henchard's misfortunes are caused by his own mistakes; it's hard to blame "fate" or "destiny" for the bad things that happen to him. But at the same time, how much con...

Dissatisfaction

There are a lot of broken dreams in The Mayor of Casterbridge. Elizabeth-Jane is hopelessly in love with Farfrae for most of the novel and is forced to watch him marry her best friend. Henchard has...

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