Study Guide

The Mayor of Casterbridge

The Mayor of Casterbridge Summary

The novel opens with Michael Henchard and his wife, Susan, traveling through the country with their baby daughter, Elizabeth-Jane. They stop for supper and Henchard gets totally drunk on rum. He offers to sell his wife and daughter to the highest bidder. He isn't entirely serious, but when a sailor offers five guineas (a lot of money to a poor man back then), Henchard takes it. Susan thinks it's a binding arrangement and that she now legally belongs to the sailor, so she takes the baby and leaves.

When Henchard wakes up sober and sorry, he tries to trace his wife and daughter. No luck. He swears a solemn oath not to drink any more alcohol for twenty years. After several months, he learns that the sailor has probably taken Susan and Elizabeth-Jane to North America, and he gives up hope of ever finding them. He settles down in the town of Casterbridge.

The scene changes. It's eighteen years later. Susan and her daughter, Elizabeth-Jane, are traveling to Casterbridge to track down Michael Henchard. The sailor, whose name was Newson, has died, and Susan (who now calls herself Mrs. Newson, since she thought that her marriage was actually legally transferred to Newson) has decided that it's only right to return to her first husband to see if he can do anything for Elizabeth-Jane.

When they arrive in Casterbridge, they find that Henchard has worked his way up from a lowly hay harvester to a hay and grain merchant. He's wealthy now and has even been elected Mayor of the town. When he learns that Susan and Elizabeth-Jane are not only still alive, but in Casterbridge, he decides that it's only right to take them in and support them. But, as you might guess, he doesn't want to admit to anyone that he auctioned off his wife eighteen years earlier. So he suggests that Susan live in Casterbridge and call herself the widow Mrs. Newson, and he'll pretend to fall in love with her and propose to marry her. Then they can all live together, with Elizabeth-Jane as his "stepdaughter" instead of as his real daughter. Susan agrees, they follow the plan, and Susan and Elizabeth-Jane are soon living in the Mayor's house.

Around this same time, Henchard hires a young Scottish man, Donald Farfrae, to help manage his affairs. Farfrae has a much better head for business than Henchard does, and he quickly whips Henchard's business into shape. The two men become friends, and Elizabeth-Jane develops a crush on Farfrae.

Henchard confides everything to Farfrae, including the drunken auction eighteen years earlier. He even admits to him that before Susan and Elizabeth-Jane showed up, he had had a romantic entanglement with a young lady from Jersey (the British one, not the one with the Shore). The young lady was head over heels in love with him and didn't hide it, and everyone assumed they'd been sleeping together. They hadn't, but her reputation was ruined anyway. She wanted him to marry her to save her reputation, and he was going to – until Susan showed up. Farfrae is sympathetic when he hears the story and feels sorry for the other girl. Still, he agrees that Henchard did the right thing by remarrying his original wife.

Then things start to unravel. Henchard becomes jealous of Farfrae because the employees like him better. He fires Farfrae, who starts up his own business across town and does really well. Then Susan dies. Henchard tells Elizabeth-Jane that she's his real daughter, saying that he and Susan had been "separated" from each other for a long time (he doesn't admit to having auctioned them off).

But then he reads a letter that Susan left for him before her death admitting that Elizabeth-Jane isn't his real daughter. She's actually the daughter of Captain Newson, and the original Elizabeth-Jane (the baby who was auctioned off along with Susan) died as a baby. Crazy, huh?! Henchard decides he doesn't really want Elizabeth-Jane around anymore and starts being mean to her.

And the drama continues. Elizabeth-Jane moves out of Henchard's house to live with a wealthy young woman who has just moved to Casterbridge. Turns out, that young woman is the one who was in love with Henchard before! Her name is Lucetta, but she changed her last name from Le Sueur to Templeman after inheriting a lot of money from a wealthy aunt named Miss Templeman. She has moved to Casterbridge because she heard of Susan's death and still wants Henchard to marry her. Henchard feels guilty about having messed up her reputation (even though he still swears they never slept together) so he's all for marrying her.

But then Lucetta meets Farfrae. Lucetta is a total flirt and Farfrae falls for her. Lucetta doesn't want to marry Henchard anymore, but she's worried that someone will find out about her past relationship with him. She'd written him a lot of steamy love letters and is worried that someone might show them to Farfrae. Henchard is angry that she doesn't want to marry him anymore, and he tries to blackmail her into promising to be his wife. Lucetta panics, then marries Farfrae on the sly. Farfrae knows nothing about Lucetta's past relationship with Henchard and has no clue why Henchard, who used to be his best friend, is acting like such a jerk.

Henchard's business has been failing ever since Farfrae stopped working for him, and finally he has to declare bankruptcy. Farfrae buys Henchard's house and business. Henchard ends up being hired to work for Farfrae as a lowly laborer, which really hurts his pride. He is still jealous of Farfrae and is tempted to show him Lucetta's old love letters as a way of getting back at them both.

Lucetta tries to persuade Henchard to give her all the old love letters so that she can burn them. Henchard reluctantly agrees. But he sends the letters in a package with someone who isn't trustworthy. The messenger opens the package and shows the letters to a few people in a bar. The rumors about Lucetta's past relationship with Henchard start flying around. A few drunken townspeople decide it would be funny to have a parade with a model of Henchard and Lucetta cuddling together. They have their drunken procession one night while Farfrae is out of town. Lucetta hears about it and is so upset that she gets hysterical and then dies. The drunken townspeople feel kind of bad about that. They didn't mean to kill her.

Henchard realizes that he's been a total jerk to Elizabeth-Jane and apologizes. Elizabeth-Jane moves back in with him, still thinking she's his real daughter and that Captain Newson, the man who brought her up, was only her stepfather. Then one day, while Elizabeth-Jane is taking a nap, Captain Newson shows up at Henchard's door. (Wait, we thought he was dead!) Turns out that Newson hadn't really drowned when Susan thought he did. He asks about Elizabeth-Jane. Henchard is afraid that Newson will tell Elizabeth-Jane that he's her real father and that she'll leave. So Henchard lies and says Elizabeth-Jane is dead. Newson leaves town immediately, but Henchard is paranoid that Newson will return and Elizabeth-Jane will find out about his big fat lie.

After Lucetta's death, Farfrae is at first heartbroken, but then he begins to realize that a much better woman than Lucetta has been there this whole time. Elizabeth-Jane still loves him, and they start thinking about getting married. Henchard has been uneasy ever since Newson's visit, and now that Elizabeth-Jane is going to get married, he decides he should just leave Casterbridge altogether. But he can't bring himself to go too far away from Elizabeth-Jane – he wanders around the countryside near Casterbridge for weeks.

Newson returns soon after Henchard leaves and tells Elizabeth-Jane the truth. She is understandably angry at Henchard for having lied to her about being her real father and for send Newson away. After she gets married, though, she starts to feel sorry for her stepfather. She searches for him but only finds him after he has died.

  • Chapter 1

    • A young man and woman are traveling together along a road. The woman is carrying a baby.
    • The man is looking for work as a hay trusser on a farm.
    • They stop for supper at a fair.
    • The woman proposes that they get bowls of furmity for dinner ("furmity" is kind of like oatmeal with sugar, raisins, currants, and milk in it – basically a sweet but nutritious bowl of wheat glop).
    • The man asks the furmity lady to spike his bowl with rum.
    • He has bowl after bowl of rum-spiked furmity (you'd think he'd be tired of the glop, but it seems he can't get enough).
    • He's soon quite drunk and starts ranting to anyone who will listen about how marriage sucks.
    • His wife seems used to his bad temper and pretty much ignores him – until he starts talking about how he'd like to sell his wife to anyone willing to buy her.
    • She says he's made that joke a few too many times.
    • He insists that he's serious.
    • The other people in the furmity tent think this is just the funniest thing, and they start joking about auctioning off the man's wife.
    • The man, whom his wife calls "Michael," says he won't take less than five guineas for her.
    • (Historical context note! A "guinea" is a British pound plus one shilling. Five guineas would be a lot of money for a poor person at the time.)
    • A sailor shows up and says he'll buy the wife, slapping five guineas on the table.
    • Michael is surprised – he wasn't totally serious, but he's drunk and stubborn enough to agree.
    • His wife, whom he calls Susan, thinks this is a binding legal agreement.
    • When Michael picks up the money, she picks up the baby and leaves with the sailor.
    • Everyone else in the furmity tent is kind of shocked that Michael actually went through with it, and they all leave.
    • Michael passes out at the table.
  • Chapter 2

    • Michael Henchard wakes up in the furmity tent and remembers what happened.
    • He's angry that his wife didn't have the sense to realize that the auction wasn't binding – Susan was always too meek, he thinks.
    • Then he realizes that he's really the one to blame. He goes into a church and swears a solemn oath not to drink alcohol for as many years as he's been alive – 20. He won't touch alcohol again until he's 40 years old.
    • He starts searching for his wife and baby, but it's hard because he's not willing to tell anyone how he got separated from them. After all, admitting that he auctioned them off wouldn't make him very many friends.
    • Eventually he traces them to a port town and learns that they went to Canada.
    • He gives up hope of ever finding them again and moves on, trying to find work.
    • He makes his way to the town of Casterbridge.
  • Chapter 3

    • Susan and her daughter, Elizabeth-Jane, are traveling together and talking.
    • They discuss the reasons for their journey: Captain Newson, the sailor, has died, and he didn't leave them very much money.
    • It's clear that Elizabeth-Jane thinks Captain Newson was her father.
    • They're going to find Michael Henchard, whom Susan vaguely describes as "a distant relation by marriage."
    • Their first stop is at the fair where Michael sold Susan eighteen years earlier.
    • Susan doesn't tell Elizabeth-Jane about the auction, of course, but just says that this is the last place she'd seen her "relation."
    • Susan looks around for the furmity lady and finds her still scraping together a living selling watered-down furmity at the edge of the fairground.
    • Susan has a private conversation with her and learns that Henchard has moved to Casterbridge.
    • Susan and Elizabeth-Jane get a room at an inn so they can travel to Casterbridge in the morning.
  • Chapter 4

    • Flashback! The narrator tells us that Susan has never told Elizabeth-Jane the story of her life, because she doesn't want her daughter to think less of her.
    • Susan thought she was legally and morally obliged to live with Newson as his wife. She thought the auction was a binding agreement and that she wasn't committing adultery by living with Newson.
    • The narrator makes it clear that we're not supposed to blame Susan for any of this.
    • For years Susan and Newson lived together, and Elizabeth-Jane grew up thinking of Newson as her father.
    • But then, while Newson was away (as a sailor, he was away a lot), Susan confided to a female friend that she had been sold to Newson by her first husband.
    • The friend told her that she was in no way obliged to live with Newson as his wife and that her relationship to him was a joke.
    • Susan was miserable, and when Newson returned, he saw that she was uncomfortable with him.
    • The relationship didn't last much longer – he left on another trip and got caught in a bad storm.
    • Susan received word that her husband had drowned and hadn't left them very much money.
    • Elizabeth-Jane was almost grown up, and Susan wanted to give her daughter an opportunity to see more of the world. She decided to track down Michael Henchard to see if he could help them out.
    • End of flashback!
    • The two women arrive at Casterbridge and there's some kind of commotion.
  • Chapter 5

    • Turns out a big public dinner is being held at a nice hotel. The doors and windows are all open, and they see that the mayor and town councilmen are all eating and giving speeches.
    • The mayor is Michael Henchard!
    • Susan is overwhelmed and says she doesn't want to see him.
    • Elizabeth-Jane doesn't know why her mother is responding this way – she's excited that their "distant relative by marriage" is important and probably wealthy.
    • Then some people in the crowd start making a fuss about how Henchard had sold bad grain to the bakers in town so all the bread is bad.
    • Henchard says he can't help it – the farmers sold him bad grain, so what can he do?
    • He says he won't offer a refund.
    • The crowd still seems grumpy, but they shut up.
  • Chapter 6

    • They see a young man enter the hotel. He sends a note to the mayor and asks someone if there's a less fancy, less expensive hotel somewhere in the town.
    • He's directed to the King of Prussia Inn down the road.
    • They see Michael Henchard open the note, read it, and look interested.
    • Elizabeth-Jane and her mother decide to go to the King of Prussia themselves.
    • The dinner festivities are winding down at the fancy hotel, and Michael Henchard asks where the young man who sent him the note has gone.
    • He's directed to the King of Prussia, so he heads down the road, too.
  • Chapter 7

    • Even the King of Prussia seems kind of pricey, so Elizabeth-Jane offers to help out as a waitress to cover part of their dinner and lodging.
    • The landlady is a kind woman and agrees, even though Elizabeth-Jane's offer is unusual and old-fashioned.
    • Elizabeth-Jane is asked to carry dinner up to the young man they saw sending a note to Henchard.
    • The young man is from Scotland. He doesn't notice Elizabeth-Jane when she comes into his room with his dinner tray.
    • She checks him out and likes what she sees.
    • After a while, Elizabeth-Jane returns to the room she's sharing with her mother, right next door to the young man's.
    • They can hear through the wall. There's a second person there, and Susan recognizes the voice. It's Michael Henchard!
    • The scene moves next door, where Henchard is talking to the young man.
    • The man introduces himself as Donald Farfrae.
    • Henchard thinks Farfrae is there in response to an advertisement for a job. He is looking to hire a manager for his business.
    • Henchard's background is in hay harvesting, but his business is in both hay and grain. He needs a manager to help out, especially with the grain side of things.
    • Farfrae says he's actually just passing through town on his way to America and isn't looking for a job. He overheard the townspeople complaining about bad grain, and he knows of a way to fix it so that it's useable.
    • He offers to show Henchard his method for free.
    • Henchard is delighted – he'll be able to get all the townspeople to stop their complaining!
    • He's especially grateful that Farfrae – a total stranger – was willing to help him out.
    • Farfrae just shrugs and says that he's glad to help.
    • He invites Henchard to stay and have a glass of beer with him, but Henchard says no – he's sworn an oath not to drink alcohol to make up for something he did in the past that he is ashamed of.
    • Henchard repeatedly offers the job to him, but Farfrae keeps refusing, saying that he wants to see more of the world.
  • Chapter 8

    • Elizabeth-Jane and Susan stop eavesdropping through the wall and sit down to eat their supper.
    • Susan is glad to have overheard Henchard mention that he's given up drinking and that he's ashamed of something he did in the past. She assumes (rightly) that he's referring to the whole wife-auction incident.
    • Elizabeth-Jane carries down their dinner tray and sees that the young man, Farfrae, is in the main room of the inn with the townspeople who hang out there.
    • He's singing a Scottish song and chatting with people.
    • Everyone loves his singing and asks for more songs.
    • Most of the songs he sings are about loving his homeland.
    • Elizabeth-Jane thinks he has the most beautiful voice ever.
    • Later he passes Elizabeth-Jane in the stairwell and sings a few lines of a song about a pretty girl to her.
    • She blushes and runs back to her room.
    • Her mother is worried that Elizabeth-Jane shouldn't have helped out as a waitress. If they do introduce themselves to Henchard, it might embarrass him that his "distant relatives by marriage" helped at an inn.
    • But Elizabeth-Jane can't focus on her mother's worries – she keeps thinking about how well-educated and kind the Scottish young man seemed.
    • Henchard goes home wishing that he'd been able to persuade the young man to stay – partly because he does need a manager for his grain business, and partly because he's lonely and he liked the young man personally.
  • Chapter 9

    • When Elizabeth-Jane gets up, the first thing she sees when she looks out the window is the young man, Donald Farfrae, leaving the inn.
    • She's sad to see him go.
    • Henchard joins Farfrae in the street and offers to walk with him to the edge of town.
    • Meanwhile, Susan (to whom the narrator is now referring as Mrs. Henchard, since after all, she was never really married to Newson), has decided to send Elizabeth-Jane to see Mr. Henchard with a note.
    • The note just says that they're in town and to send a note back with Elizabeth-Jane if he wants to see them.
    • Susan is nervous about it, but Elizabeth-Jane is more optimistic.
    • When she arrives at Henchard's house, the housekeeper tells her he's in his office around back (his house is next to his business).
    • She heads over to the office and discovers Mr. Farfrae there.
    • She is surprised, and Farfrae appears not to recognize her from the inn.
    • Farfrae goes to fetch Henchard for her.
    • The narrator explains that Henchard persuaded Farfrae to stay on as his manager on their walk that morning.
    • Farfrae had come straight to the office to sign some papers and to get started working.
    • Henchard needs the manager for the grain half of his business, since he's better with hay.
    • He also needs a manager to handle the business side of things, since he isn't that great at bookkeeping.
  • Chapter 10

    • Before Elizabeth-Jane goes in to see Henchard, another man arrives and sees him first.
    • He says his name is Joshua Jopp, and that he's there to be the new manager.
    • Henchard says sorry, he's already hired a new manager.
    • Jopp says that Henchard almost promised him the job – he traveled all this way for the advertised job and Henchard had said it was his, assuming his references checked out.
    • Henchard just shrugs and sends the man away.
    • Elizabeth-Jane then goes in.
    • Henchard reads her note and is very surprised, especially when she tells him her name is Elizabeth-Jane and that she is Susan's only daughter.
    • He invites her into the house and asks about Susan.
    • She tells him that "father" died last spring.
    • He doesn't like to hear her refer to Newson as her father, but what does he expect?
    • He doesn't say anything about it, of course.
    • He says that he'd like to see Susan and writes a note to her.
    • Elizabeth-Jane takes Susan the note.
    • Susan reads it privately: Henchard asks her not to say anything to Elizabeth-Jane about the real story until they've spoken, and asks that she come and meet him at the edge of town in the ruins of a Roman coliseum.
    • He also encloses five guineas.
    • The five guineas are partly to help pay for their lodging at the hotel, but it's also symbolic: he's "buying her back" after having sold her to Newson for five guineas so long ago.
  • Chapter 11

    • The Casterbridge Ring, as people call the old Roman coliseum, is at the edge of town just off the main road.
    • It's a good place for secret meetings, since it's close to town but the tall walls of the amphitheater block the view from the road.
    • Secret lovers don't usually meet there, though, because of its sad history: it used to be the place of public execution.
    • Henchard and Susan meet there after dark.
    • The first thing he tells her is that he doesn't drink, and hasn't since that night.
    • It's his way of apologizing to her.
    • He says he looked everywhere for her and asks why she never tried to contact him.
    • She says she thought she owed Newson the faithfulness of a wife after he'd paid for her and everything. She thought it was a binding arrangement.
    • She says she only came to find Henchard since Newson had died. She considers herself Newson's widow.
    • Henchard doesn't know what to do about Elizabeth-Jane, though – neither he nor Susan wants to tell the girl everything; they're afraid she would hate them.
    • Henchard is also afraid of losing his position in town if he goes public with the story.
    • So he comes up with the idea of giving Susan enough money to rent a cottage in town and call herself the widow Mrs. Newson.
    • Henchard will pretend to fall in love and propose to her, and then they'll be able to get married again and live together as a family.
    • Elizabeth-Jane will think of Henchard as a stepfather, but that's the price you pay.
    • Susan agrees to the plan and they both walk home.
  • Chapter 12

    • Henchard goes home and finds Farfrae still there working on the bookkeeping.
    • He invites him to come into the house and hang out for a while.
    • Henchard doesn't have any friends and he wants to confide in someone.
    • Farfrae seems trustworthy, so he starts telling him the whole story.
    • He tells every detail of the wife auction, then glosses over his rise to wealth and importance in Casterbridge.
    • Farfrae says he's done a lot of good to balance out the bad.
    • Then Henchard says that his wife has come back.
    • Great, says Farfrae.
    • Yeah, says Henchard, but there's a problem: if he takes Susan back, he'll hurt someone else.
    • A couple years earlier, when traveling on business in Jersey, Henchard got sick.
    • A young lady there took pity on him.
    • She was poor but well-educated, and her parents were dead.
    • She helped to nurse him back to health.
    • He swears they never slept together or anything, but they didn't worry too much about how things looked.
    • All the girl's friends and acquaintances assumed she'd been sleeping with Henchard.
    • Now, this is 19th-century England, and sex out of wedlock was a Very Big Deal.
    • Basically the girl's reputation was ruined, so obviously she wanted Henchard to marry her to make up for it.
    • He was planning to, because he assumed Susan was dead, but then Susan showed up!
    • Farfrae says it's too bad for the young lady from Jersey, but there's no help for it – Henchard should take care of Susan, since she's still alive.
    • Henchard agrees, and asks Farfrae to write a letter to the young lady to explain things to her.
  • Chapter 13

    • Susan and Elizabeth-Jane move into a cottage toward the edge of town, just as she and Henchard had planned.
    • Once they've moved in, Henchard starts visiting regularly.
    • Townspeople start gossiping about it – they can't imagine what Henchard sees in Susan, since she's so thin and worn.
    • They talk about the upcoming marriage between their mayor and the widow Mrs. Newson as though it's a sure thing.
  • Chapter 14

    • Susan, who is now officially Mrs. Henchard again, moves into Henchard's big fancy house with Elizabeth-Jane.
    • Elizabeth-Jane is happy to live in such a nice house, but she isn't overly triumphant about it. She knows how uncertain things can be and doesn't want to get too attached to their newfound prosperity.
    • Elizabeth-Jane dresses more nicely than she used to, but she doesn't wear a lot of the frills and bows that other young ladies wear.
    • Henchard is glad Elizabeth-Jane has grown up into such a pretty and sensible young lady.
    • He wonders, though, why her hair is so light. When she was a baby, it was a lot darker.
    • Susan says that hair color changes as babies grow up and warns him not to drop hints to Elizabeth-Jane that he knew her when she was younger.
    • He suggests one day that Elizabeth-Jane should change her last name to Henchard and be known as Miss Henchard around town instead of Miss Newson.
    • She says she'd rather not, since it would seem disrespectful to her dead father, Captain Newson.
    • Henchard can't argue with this, since she doesn't know the whole story.
    • Elizabeth-Jane likes watching Henchard and Farfrae working in the offices, which she can see from her window.
    • She is developing a crush on Farfrae!
    • She notices that Henchard and Farfrae seem to be inseparable.
    • Henchard thinks very highly of Farfrae and relies on him for advice on almost everything.
    • One day Elizabeth-Jane gets a note to go and meet someone at one of Henchard's storage houses.
    • She assumes it's a quick question that has to do with his business, so she heads on over.
    • When she gets there, she ends up getting covered with husks of wheat.
    • Then Farfrae comes in.
    • She assumes the note must have been from him and asks him what he needs.
    • He didn't send the note; he got one, too.
    • They wait around together for a while and then realize that someone must have been playing a trick on them.
    • Before they go, Farfrae has to point out that Elizabeth-Jane has wheat husks all over her.
    • He blows them off for her, which is kind of an intimate thing to do to your employer's daughter.
    • He notices that Elizabeth-Jane is pretty hot, and offers to walk her home.
    • She gets embarrassed and they go their separate ways.
  • Chapter 15

    • Elizabeth-Jane is beautiful, but the young men of Casterbridge aren't all in love with her.
    • She doesn't dress flashily enough to attract anyone's interest.
    • Farfrae is the only one who really notices her.
    • One day she does splurge and buys a new bonnet and gloves and a new dress to match. She is shocked at how much attention she receives.
    • She wishes she were better educated and starts reading more on her own to fill in the gaps in her education.
    • Abel Whittle, one of Henchard's employees, shows up late to work again.
    • Henchard yells at him – Whittle can't seem to wake up on time (this was before cell phone alarms), and doesn't know what to do about it.
    • Henchard says that if it happens again he'll go in person to Whittle's house to wake him up.
    • That scares the crap out of Whittle, but of course, it does happen again – the very next morning.
    • Henchard is as good as his word: when Whittle doesn't show up, he marches up the street to Whittle's apartment, barges right in, stands at the foot of the bed, and yells at his employee to wake up.
    • He doesn't even give Whittle a chance to pull on his trousers – he makes him march up the street to work in his undies and undershirt.
    • Whittle is, of course, about ready to die of shame.
    • Farfrae shows up then and tells Whittle to go home and put on some trousers.
    • Whittle is afraid to do so unless Henchard tells him it's OK.
    • Farfrae argues with Henchard about it and tells Henchard it's not right to shame the man publicly like this.
    • Henchard backs down, but he's mad that Farfrae undercut him in front of everyone.
    • Later that day, Henchard gets a message from some clients and starts to answer it, but the boy who carried the message says his parents would rather see Farfrae.
    • Of course, Henchard isn't happy to hear this.
    • He starts to feel jealous of Farfrae and is rude to him.
    • Farfrae says he's sorry if he's hurt Henchard in any way, because of course it was unintentional if he did.
    • Henchard immediately apologizes for being rude, and they're friends again, although Henchard is beginning to regret having told Farfrae all the secrets of his life.
  • Chapter 16

    • Farfrae and Henchard aren't such close friends anymore, but they still do business together as always.
    • One day, Farfrae asks Henchard to borrow some big cloths to use as tarps to create a tent for some outdoor entertainment on a holiday.
    • Henchard immediately agrees, but then starts thinking that he should do something similar.
    • He even decides to do it on the same day, and to have a much bigger, fancier affair than Farfrae's.
    • He decides to have his entertainment up on a hillside, while Farfrae is setting up his pavilion in a narrow lane under some spreading trees.
    • Everyone is excited about both parties, especially Henchard's since his entertainments will be free and Farfrae is charging a little bit for his.
    • But on the day of the holiday, the weather is bad.
    • No one comes to Henchard's party because it's too exposed out on the hill.
    • Farfrae's is under a tent, so everyone goes there instead.
    • Henchard is very jealous.
    • He ends up taking Susan and Elizabeth-Jane down to Farfrae's tent to see what's up.
    • There's music, and people are dancing.
    • Henchard overhears some people talking about how much better Farfrae's party is than Henchard's.
    • He's not happy.
    • Elizabeth-Jane is, though – Farfrae asks her to dance!
    • And then he walks her home afterwards!
    • He seems almost ready to propose to her, but doesn't.
    • Henchard is so angry and jealous that he says he doesn't need a manager anymore.
    • Farfrae agrees to go.
    • Henchard regrets it later, but Farfrae is determined to go anyway.
  • Chapter 17

    • Farfrae finds an opportunity to say goodbye to Elizabeth-Jane in private.
    • He says he might have to move to another part of the country.
    • Elizabeth-Jane is sad, which Farfrae sees as a good sign.
    • He doesn't say anything to her, just says good-bye and leaves.
    • But he doesn't leave Casterbridge.
    • He actually buys the business of another hay and grain merchant and becomes a businessman himself.
    • He's determined not to steal business from Henchard, though, and refuses to take clients who used to go to him.
    • Even though he's being very fair about it, Henchard is furious.
    • He makes Elizabeth-Jane promise not to talk to Farfrae anymore.
    • Henchard sends Farfrae a note telling him never to talk to Elizabeth-Jane again.
    • Farfrae accepts this – after all, he's just starting his own business and wouldn't be able to afford to get married for a long time. And besides, he was only just beginning to develop feelings for her.
  • Chapter 18

    • Susan is sick. Henchard calls for the best doctor in town and she soon recovers.
    • One morning soon after her illness, Henchard receives a letter.
    • It's from the young lady in Jersey who ruined her reputation by spending too much time alone with him.
    • She apologizes for having sent him so many love letters – and for the angry tone in the last few letters – after he informed her that he couldn't marry her because of Susan.
    • She says she would like him to return all her letters so she can destroy them.
    • She requests, though, that he give her the letters in person.
    • She plans to travel from Jersey to Bristol to see her old, wealthy relative, and she'll stop briefly in Casterbridge on the way.
    • She tells him the time and place that she'll change coaches in downtown Casterbridge, and asks Henchard to meet her there to hand her the packet of letters.
    • Henchard figures this is only fair and wraps up the letters.
    • He feels sorry for the young lady, whom we now know is named Lucetta.
    • Henchard decides that if he's ever in a position to remarry (i.e., if Susan should ever die), he should marry Lucetta.
    • When he goes to the place where she is supposed to change coaches, though, he finds that she isn't there.
    • He figures she must have changed her plans at the last minute and goes on home.
    • Meanwhile, Susan is getting worse.
    • She writes a note to Henchard and seals it up with the heading: "To Mr. Michael Henchard. Not to be opened until Elizabeth-Jane's wedding day."
    • She locks the note in her desk.
    • Elizabeth-Jane is obviously upset at her mother's failing health.
    • Her mother tells her that she's the one who wrote the notes that brought Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae together in the grain storage houses.
    • She wanted Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae to be married, but that doesn't look likely now that Henchard and Farfrae aren't even on speaking terms.
    • Then Susan dies.
  • Chapter 19

    • Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane are alone in the house now.
    • Henchard regrets not having told his daughter that he is her real father, not Captain Newson. He decides to tell her.
    • He says he and Susan were married when they were young.
    • He skips over the whole wife-auction part. He just says they lost each other and that Susan had thought he was dead when she married Captain Newson. He, Henchard, is her real father!
    • Elizabeth-Jane is, of course, upset. She's always loved Newson and thought of him as her father.
    • He tells her she can go to bed and sleep on it, and in the morning he'll show her papers that will prove it to her.
    • In the meantime, she agrees to use the last name Henchard from now on and even has a paragraph put into the town paper that announces the name change.
    • Henchard goes upstairs to find his old marriage certificate.
    • In her desk, he finds the letter she'd written for him.
    • He sees the note that he shouldn't open it until Elizabeth-Jane's wedding day, but the seal is already broken and he figures it doesn't matter, anyway.
    • The letter tells him that Elizabeth-Jane isn't the same child that he sold – that baby died shortly after the auction at the fair.
    • Susan had another child, with Newson, and named her Elizabeth-Jane after the first child.
    • So Elizabeth-Jane was Newson's child, after all!
    • But Henchard doesn't feel he can go back downstairs and take it all back again, especially after Elizabeth-Jane agreed to take his last name and even put the advertisement in the newspaper.
    • So he has to go on allowing Elizabeth-Jane to believe she's his daughter. But he begins to resent it.
    • The next morning, Elizabeth-Jane comes downstairs ready to call Henchard "father" and to begin thinking of him as her real father.
    • Henchard hardly appreciates it anymore.
  • Chapter 20

    • Ever since telling her that he was her real father, Henchard has started scolding Elizabeth-Jane over every little thing.
    • She uses country dialect occasionally and doesn't always know how to act like a fine lady.
    • She even helps the servants sometimes.
    • He scolds her for all of this, and it hurts her feelings.
    • She figures she must be doing something wrong, so she starts studying really hard to make up for her lack of education.
    • Henchard acts coldly toward her now.
    • Elizabeth-Jane starts taking walks to the cemetery where her mother is buried.
    • One day she sees a strange woman there – not much older than herself, but very beautiful and richly dressed. She seems like a fine lady.
    • They don't speak but they do notice each other.
    • Elizabeth-Jane goes home and once again faces Henchard's scolding.
    • Henchard begins to regret having told Farfrae to back off Elizabeth-Jane.
    • Since he doesn't enjoy having her in the house anymore, he wouldn't mind seeing her married off.
    • So he sends Farfrae another note, saying that he can talk to Elizabeth-Jane after all.
    • The next day, Elizabeth-Jane sees the strange woman in the cemetery again.
    • The woman sees that Elizabeth-Jane looks unhappy and asks her why.
    • Elizabeth-Jane says her mother is dead (they're sitting by her mother's grave, after all), and that her father is displeased with her.
    • She says he gets angry with her because of her faults, but that her faults are due to her past and her lack of a formal education.
    • The woman seems interested, so Elizabeth-Jane briefly tells her her story: how her parents were separated, her mother remarried a sailor, then her parents found each other again.
    • The woman is sympathetic and Elizabeth-Jane feels better.
    • The lady says she is a newcomer to Casterbridge. She's renting a big house in the middle of town (most big houses are on the outskirts), and she needs a young woman to live with her as a companion.
    • Historical Context Note! It was considered improper for a young, unmarried woman (such as this young lady) to live alone, even if their parents had died and they had no living relatives. So it was common for women in that situation to hire a "companion" – or a woman who was reasonably well educated but without a lot of money, to live with them. Basically, a companion is like a friend-for-rent. It's someone you pay to live with you, in some weird position between friend and servant.
    • She offers to have Elizabeth-Jane come live with her as a companion if her father really seems to want her out of the house.
    • This sounds like heaven to Elizabeth-Jane. Living with a fine lady like this will give her the opportunity to learn good, aristocratic manners, and Henchard won't be able to make her life quite so miserable.
    • She goes home to ask Henchard for permission.
  • Chapter 21

    • Elizabeth-Jane goes for a walk that evening and checks out the house where the young lady said she was going to live.
    • It really is right in the middle of downtown – the living room windows face the town square where the market is held.
    • There are lights on in the house, and Elizabeth-Jane imagines the young lady is probably there already.
    • Elizabeth-Jane starts to leave but she sees Henchard coming up the street.
    • She slips into a doorway so he won't see her and scold her.
    • Henchard seemed to be heading to the young lady's house.
    • Elizabeth-Jane doesn't see him knock, though.
    • She hurries home and he arrives only a few minutes after her.
    • She asks him if he would mind if she took a position as a companion in a respectable young lady's home.
    • He has no objection at all and even promises to give her a monthly allowance.
    • The next morning Elizabeth-Jane goes to meet the young lady at the cemetery to tell her that everything is arranged.
    • The young lady finally tells Elizabeth-Jane her name: Miss Templeman.
    • She goes back to Henchard's house to pack.
    • When Henchard sees her on her way out, he regrets sending her away, but it's too late to convince her to stay.
    • He asks her where she's going and she says the name of the house.
    • Henchard seems surprised, but doesn't say anything.
  • Chapter 22

    • Flashback to the night before.
    • Henchard received another message from Lucetta, saying that she had moved to Casterbridge.
    • She apologizes for having missed him when changing coaches in Casterbridge, but says that her plans changed because of a family emergency.
    • She says she is moving into the big house downtown, called High Street Hall.
    • Henchard figures Lucetta is going to be the housekeeper or governess there, since when he knew her she was well-educated but relatively poor.
    • He goes to visit that night and asks if Miss Le Sueur is there.
    • The servant at the door says no – only Miss Templeman.
    • Henchard figures Lucetta hasn't arrived yet, and heads home.
    • When Henchard hears that Elizabeth-Jane is going to live with Miss Templeman at High Street Hall, he suddenly wonders whether Lucetta might have changed her name. What if Lucetta Le Sueur and Miss Templeman are the same person?
    • He doesn't have to wonder for long – Lucetta sends him another note that explains everything.
    • Her wealthy relative was named Templeman. She died and left Lucetta all her money.
    • Since Lucetta's reputation was ruined (thanks in part to Henchard), she decided to change her last name to Templeman.
    • No one knows her as Miss Templeman, so the disgrace associated with the name Le Sueur won't follow her.
    • And now she's rich!
    • She ends her note by saying that Elizabeth-Jane is staying with her and she hopes that's cool with him.
    • Henchard realizes that Lucetta must have asked Elizabeth-Jane to stay with her in part to make it easy for him to come and visit. That way he'll be able to see a lot of Lucetta as well, and no one will think it's weird if he asks her to marry him.
    • Elizabeth-Jane, meanwhile, is very happy at Miss Templeman's house. She thinks Lucetta is a very beautiful woman, and hopes that some of her fancy education will rub off on her.
    • But Lucetta admits that she hasn't been rich for very long.
    • She mentions a few things about her past, then regrets it. She was planning not to tell anyone that she was originally from Jersey because she's afraid the scandal will catch up with her.
    • But of course Elizabeth-Jane isn't a gossip.
    • The next day they wait around, hoping that Henchard will visit.
    • Lucetta hasn't, of course, told Elizabeth-Jane anything about her history with Henchard.
    • Elizabeth-Jane says it isn't likely her father will come – he hates her.
    • The next day Lucetta sends Elizabeth-Jane on some made-up errands.
    • Elizabeth-Jane immediately realizes that Lucetta is trying to get her out of the way, and doesn't know why. But she goes on the errands anyway.
    • While she's gone, Lucetta sends a quick note to Henchard saying she's at home alone.
    • But who should come in but Farfrae, instead.
    • Farfrae had gotten Henchard's note saying that it was OK for him to talk to Elizabeth-Jane again. He heard that Elizabeth-Jane was living with Miss Templeman.
  • Chapter 23

    • Farfrae is bowled over by Lucetta's beauty.
    • The narrator tells us that, in fact, Elizabeth-Jane is more beautiful, but Lucetta knows how to show it off better – she's flashier.
    • Lucetta is also kind of a flirt.
    • Farfrae says he's there to see Elizabeth-Jane, and Lucetta assures him she'll be back soon.
    • She and Farfrae have a long chat, even touching on some personal subjects, although they've just met.
    • They're clearly very interested in each other.
    • He leaves before Elizabeth-Jane gets back.
    • A few minutes later, Henchard arrives.
    • Lucetta tells the servant to send him away and to tell him she has a headache.
    • She came to Casterbridge to try to get Henchard to marry her, but now that he's ready and willing, she's no longer so sure she wants to.
    • Elizabeth-Jane gets home, and Lucetta is very warm and affectionate with her.
    • She says she wants Elizabeth-Jane to stay there for a long time.
    • She figures that Elizabeth-Jane will be like a guard dog to keep Henchard away.
  • Chapter 24

    • Elizabeth-Jane is happy that Lucetta wants her to stay.
    • She helps Lucetta decide what new dress to wear one day for a walk out in the market.
    • It's a beautiful, busy day in the square, and they see Henchard.
    • Henchard makes some small talk with them and points out a new machine for sowing seeds that Farfrae has brought to town.
    • Henchard says it'll never work and makes a few insulting remarks on Farfrae's business sense.
    • Clearly, Henchard is still jealous.
    • He mutters something to Lucetta that Elizabeth-Jane can't quite hear.
    • She thinks this is weird, since (as far as she knows) they don't know each other.
    • Then Henchard leaves.
    • They see Farfrae and stop to chat.
    • Lucetta is very flirty with him.
    • Elizabeth-Jane notices, and wonders about this.
    • Lucetta explains that they'd met the other day, then changes the subject by remarking on how cold and distant Henchard was to his own daughter.
    • Elizabeth-Jane agrees and says it's because Henchard doesn't think she's respectable; she wasn't educated as a fine lady.
    • Lucetta hints that she can sympathize with what it's like having people think you're not respectable.
    • The next day Lucetta goes out by herself.
    • Elizabeth-Jane suspects that Lucetta is hoping to run into Farfrae, and when Lucetta gets back, she finds out she did see him.
    • That night, Lucetta tells Elizabeth-Jane part of her story. Only, the way she tells it, it all happened to "a friend," and she doesn't use real names.
    • Elizabeth-Jane suspects that Lucetta is talking about herself but doesn't let on.
    • Lucetta asks what "this poor girl" should do – should she marry the man to whom she was once engaged, who had accidentally trashed her reputation, or should she marry this new guy that she likes better?
    • Elizabeth-Jane says she can't say.
  • Chapter 25

    • The next day, Farfrae comes to visit.
    • He hardly notices Elizabeth-Jane at all – he only has eyes for Lucetta.
    • This hurts Elizabeth-Jane's feelings, but what can she do about it? At least she likes Lucetta.
    • She figures Farfrae must be the second man in the story Lucetta told her about "her friend."
    • The following day, Henchard comes to see Lucetta.
    • He says he's ready and willing to marry her, but Lucetta says it's too soon after Susan's death.
    • He adds that it's a little awkward for him to marry her now that she's so wealthy – everyone will think he's after her bank account.
    • Just then, Farfrae rides by the window on horseback.
    • Lucetta's face lights up, and Henchard notices, but he doesn't see Farfrae. He just thinks Lucetta is playing hard to get, and he doesn't know why.
    • Once he leaves, Lucetta tells herself that she is in no way obliged to marry Henchard.
    • Elizabeth-Jane sees that both Henchard and Farfrae are falling more in love with Lucetta every day. She feels like a total third wheel whenever one of the men is there visiting.
  • Chapter 26

    • Henchard and Farfrae meet by chance in the street one morning.
    • They nod to each other, and Henchard stops Farfrae to chat.
    • They haven't talked in ages, and Farfrae is happy to be friends again.
    • Henchard reminds him of the secret he'd told him a long time ago – about the young lady whose reputation was ruined and whom he'd been planning to marry before Susan reappeared.
    • Farfrae remembers.
    • Henchard still doesn't mention the lady by name.
    • He says he has offered to marry the young lady but that she has refused.
    • Farfrae says hey, Henchard has done his duty and doesn't owe the young lady anything anymore.
    • Henchard agrees, but he doesn't want to let it go.
    • He figures there's someone else – a rival – and he's not the kind of guy to back down.
    • The next day, both Henchard and Farfrae visit at the same time.
    • It's kind of awkward.
    • Henchard realizes Farfrae must be his rival, which drives him crazy.
    • Henchard decides to take out his anger against Farfrae by trying to out-compete him in business, so he hires a new manager.
    • He looks up Joshua Jopp, the man who had wanted the job originally.
    • Jopp is still out of work, and Henchard hires him on the spot.
    • Jopp reminds Henchard that he had done business in Jersey, too, and had often seen Henchard there.
    • It doesn't occur to Henchard that Jopp might therefore know something about Lucetta.
    • He tells Jopp that his big plan is to out-compete Farfrae and drive him out of business.
    • Henchard decides to play the market. If he buys a lot of grain for cheap before the harvest, then the harvest is bad, the supply will go down and the price will go up. He'd therefore be able to re-sell all that grain at a huge profit.
    • The problem is that the weather is hard to predict.
    • So Henchard resorts to asking a kind of old wizard who lives out in the country to predict the weather for him.
    • The man tells him that the harvest will be crummy.
    • Henchard is delighted and buys a ton of grain.
    • But then the weather turns beautiful.
    • The price of grain falls and falls.
    • Henchard decides he can't afford to wait any longer and sells his grain at a huge loss.
    • Henchard is disgusted and fires Jopp in his anger.
    • Jopp is angry and determined to find a way to get revenge.
  • Chapter 27

    • Just before the harvest, the weather turns nasty, and the price of grain spikes.
    • Farfrae makes a ton of money because he'd bought grain when the prices were low.
    • The rivalry between Farfrae and Henchard is now a matter of town gossip.
    • Their servants and laborers take part in the rivalry, too.
    • One day, Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane see some of Henchard's employees accidentally knock over a wagon of Farfrae's in the street by driving too close to it.
    • The men get in an argument over whose fault it was.
    • Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane take Farfrae's side, and Henchard is enraged.
    • Henchard is called away by the town police officers.
    • Some old woman has been arrested for being drunk and disorderly and swearing next to the church. Henchard is the Justice of the Peace since his term as mayor is over, so he'll need to deal with the woman the next day.
    • Later, he overhears Farfrae speaking alone to Lucetta.
    • He doesn't quite propose marriage, but he comes close to it, and she is clearly encouraging him.
    • When she goes home, Henchard follows her and barges in.
    • He asks why she came to Casterbridge if not to marry him.
    • She says she came because she thought she had to marry him, even though she didn't love him as much as she used to.
    • Henchard says that if she doesn't promise to marry him, he'll reveal their past relationship.
    • Lucetta gives in to the blackmail.
    • Henchard wants a witness to Lucetta's promise.
    • Elizabeth-Jane comes downstairs to hear it.
    • Lucetta promises to marry Henchard.
    • After Henchard leaves, Elizabeth-Jane asks Lucetta what power Henchard has over her, that he can force her to make this promise against her will.
    • Lucetta won't tell her.
  • Chapter 28

    • Henchard has to go to the Town Hall to deal with the old drunk woman from the day before.
    • He hears all the evidence about the woman from the witnesses.
    • The woman is then allowed to present a statement in her own defense.
    • She says that twenty years ago she was a relatively prosperous furmity saleswoman at a fair in Weydon. One day, a man and woman came in with their baby. The man auctioned off his wife for five guineas, and the woman left with the sailor who bought her. And that man was Henchard, the Justice of the Peace!
    • Henchard admits that it's true.
    • Of course there's a big commotion at the Town Hall.
    • Everyone wants to hear the story about how Henchard, the former Mayor and current Justice of the Peace, sold his wife at a county fair.
    • Lucetta hears the story and is miserable. She promised to marry a guy who would sell his wife at a county fair?
    • She spends the rest of the day out and about, and Elizabeth-Jane doesn't see her until late.
    • The next day, Lucetta leaves for a trip to Port-Breedy, a town by the seaside.
    • She says she needs some fresh air.
    • A few days later, Henchard comes by to see Lucetta.
    • Lucetta is back from her trip to Port-Breedy, but out on a long walk.
  • Chapter 29

    • Lucetta is walking back along the road that leads to Port-Breedy, the town she just returned from.
    • Elizabeth-Jane walks quickly to catch up with her.
    • When they meet, they're about to turn back toward Casterbridge.
    • They see a big bull coming toward them.
    • It's got a ring in its nose and a long pole stuck through the ring. Ouch.
    • Farmers used to use the rings to guide the bulls to market without getting too close to the horns.
    • This one clearly got loose somehow.
    • When the bull gets closer to them, they start to worry.
    • They see a barn close by and make a break for it.
    • The bull charges after them and follows them into the barn.
    • The two ladies try to climb up onto a haystack, but Lucetta doesn't make it in time.
    • Just before the bull gets to her, a tall man comes running into the barn and grabs the pole sticking out of the bull's nose ring.
    • The man gets the bull under control and asks the ladies to come out.
    • It's Henchard.
    • Lucetta is understandably hysterical, since the bull almost killed her.
    • Henchard offers to walk them back to town, and they set off together.
    • Lucetta remembers that she left her muff (a furry hand warmer) in the barn, and Elizabeth-Jane runs back for it.
    • When she gets back to the road, she sees Farfrae in an open carriage heading toward Casterbridge.
    • She figures that's why Lucetta had chosen to walk out this way – she was hoping to meet Farfrae.
    • She hitches a ride with Farfrae and tells him what happened with the bull, and that Henchard is walking Lucetta home.
    • Farfrae doesn't try to overtake Henchard and Lucetta, but just gives Elizabeth-Jane a ride back to town and goes back to his own apartments.
    • The movers are there. Apparently, he's planning on moving to a new house.
    • Meanwhile, Lucetta and Henchard have had a good long talk.
    • Henchard apologizes to Lucetta for having forced her into promising to marry him.
    • He says it's fine if they postpone their marriage for a couple years.
    • She asks if she can do something else – for instance loan him money, since he just lost so much before the harvest.
    • He says he doesn't want her money, but that it would be nice if she could drop a hint to his banker that they're engaged, so the banker will extend the loan period for him.
    • She isn't willing to do that.
    • Finally, she says it's because she's already married. She got married to Farfrae in Port-Breedy!
    • Henchard is shocked – after all, she'd promised to marry him.
    • She begs him to forgive her and explains that she was in love with Farfrae and afraid that Henchard would tell him everything. So she decided to risk everything and marry him while she could.
    • Henchard is furious.
  • Chapter 30

    • Farfrae is moving into Lucetta's house.
    • Lucetta meets him there and tells him that she hasn't had a chance yet to tell Elizabeth-Jane that they're married.
    • She goes upstairs to tell her.
    • She reminds Elizabeth-Jane of the story about the "friend" who had promised to marry one man but was prevented from it, then fell in love with someone else.
    • Elizabeth-Jane remembers very well and drops the charade – she knows Lucetta was talking about herself.
    • She has also figured out that the men were Henchard and Farfrae.
    • Without telling Elizabeth-Jane that she has just gotten hitched to Farfrae, Lucetta asks her what she should do now that she knows Henchard wasn't exactly a model husband.
    • Elizabeth-Jane says the only honest thing to do is not to marry either of them and to stay single.
    • Wrong answer!
    • When Lucetta reacts badly, at first Elizabeth-Jane thinks it's because she married Henchard. She's delighted that Lucetta did the honest thing and kept her promise.
    • But of course, Lucetta married Farfrae.
    • When Elizabeth-Jane finds out the truth, she is disappointed – both because she secretly loved Farfrae and because she thinks Lucetta did something dishonest by breaking her word to Henchard.
    • Lucetta insists that Elizabeth-Jane should stay and live with them, but of course Elizabeth-Jane doesn't want to.
    • She leaves almost immediately, rents a small apartment, and moves into it that very night.
  • Chapter 31

    • Henchard has been disgraced by the furmity woman's announcement at the Town Hall.
    • He'd already lost a ton of money because of the bad gamble he'd made before the harvest, but now no one wants to extend their loans to him any longer.
    • Added to that, several people who owed him money aren't able to pay up.
    • Finally, he has to declare bankruptcy.
    • Most people in his position would lie and keep a little bit of money socked away when the bankers asked them to give up all their assets, but Henchard is completely honest.
    • He even offers to give them his pocket watch.
    • Henchard has to move out of his fancy house.
    • He moves into Joshua Jopp's cottage because he has nowhere else to go.
    • Elizabeth-Jane tries to visit him, but he doesn't want to see anyone.
    • Farfrae has bought Henchard's business, including all the warehouses and offices, and even the big house.
  • Chapter 32

    • Henchard is standing on an old bridge at the edge of town.
    • He's totally depressed.
    • It's not a happy bridge. Other people have killed themselves by jumping off of it before. Henchard isn't that kind of guy, though.
    • Joshua Jopp comes up behind him with some more bad news: Farfrae has bought Henchard's old house, including all the furniture, and has moved into it with Lucetta.
    • Jopp leaves.
    • Then Farfrae walks up.
    • He asks Henchard if it's true that he's planning to leave the country.
    • Henchard says yes.
    • Farfrae offers to let him stay in his old house for a while.
    • Henchard thinks that would be really weird, and says thanks, but no thanks.
    • Farfrae then offers Henchard any of his old furniture that he has a sentimental attachment to.
    • Henchard is touched by the offer.
    • Meanwhile, Elizabeth-Jane is supporting herself by making lace and netting and other fancy things to sell.
    • She also devotes some time to studying every day.
    • Unfortunately, her new apartment is just across from Henchard's old house, so she sees Lucetta and Farfrae going in and out all the time.
    • She hears that Henchard is sick and goes to see him.
    • He doesn't want to see her, but he gets better quickly.
    • He begins to feel sorry about leaving Elizabeth-Jane in Casterbridge by herself and decides to find work there if he can.
    • He gets hired by Farfrae.
    • There are only twelve more days until he can start drinking again. His oath when he sold Susan was to go without it for twenty years.
    • A couple weeks later, Elizabeth-Jane hears the news that Henchard had started drinking again, and she hurries out to find him.
  • Chapter 33

    • Henchard is at the King of Prussia Inn, drinking beer with some of the townspeople.
    • Most of the others have just come from church, so they're not drinking much.
    • Some members of the church choir are there, and Henchard, who loves music, asks them to sing him a song.
    • They feel sorry for him, so they agree.
    • He chooses a Psalm that's all about revenge and making your enemy totally miserable.
    • They're kind of uncomfortable singing it, but he finally bullies them into it.
    • Once they're done, he tells them it was about Farfrae, and they're all really creeped out.
    • Then Elizabeth-Jane arrives and persuades him to come home.
    • Elizabeth-Jane is worried that Henchard will try to hurt Farfrae in some way and wonders whether she should try to warn him.
    • Lucetta, meanwhile, doesn't realize that Farfrae has hired Henchard. Farfrae doesn't know about her past with Henchard, so why should he tell her?
    • Lucetta accidentally runs into Henchard in the warehouse one day, and he's very sarcastic to her.
    • She sends him a note later telling him not to treat her like that again.
    • Elizabeth-Jane tries to keep Henchard from drinking too much by bringing him tea at five o'clock every day after work.
    • One day she comes in with the tea and sees Henchard talking to Farfrae near the edge of a hay loft.
    • Farfrae doesn't see that Henchard is clearly thinking of pushing him off.
    • He doesn't, and probably wouldn't have, but it makes Elizabeth-Jane awfully uncomfortable.
    • She resolves to warn Farfrae that Henchard might be planning something.
  • Chapter 34

    • Elizabeth-Jane goes to Farfrae's office the next morning.
    • She tells him her father is bitter and unhappy and that she is worried he might try to "insult" Farfrae in some way.
    • Farfrae shrugs it off. He thinks he and Henchard are friends again.
    • But after Elizabeth-Jane leaves, he remembers how sensible she is. He resolves to be more careful.
    • Nevertheless, he goes ahead with his plan to help Henchard: he's going to open a seed store in town and hire Henchard as the manager. This will give Henchard more independence and a chance to earn money if the store does well.
    • But when he goes to finalize the plan, he hears that Henchard has been talking a lot of trash about him at the King of Prussia.
    • He decides not to go through with the plan.
    • But then Henchard hears that Farfrae had planned on giving him the management of the shop and then changed his mind.
    • Henchard is even angrier at Farfrae now.
    • Farfrae goes home and is obviously anxious about something.
    • Lucetta is worried that Farfrae has heard something about her, but she can't bring herself to ask.
    • Then one of the town councilmen arrives to ask Farfrae if he'd be willing to be the mayor if the councilmen elected him.
    • Farfrae is awfully young to be mayor, but sure, why not?
    • The next day, Henchard remembers the packet of letters Lucetta had written to him.
    • They're still in the safe at his old house!
    • He knocks on the door and asks Farfrae if he can get a parcel out of the safe that he'd forgotten.
    • Of course, Farfrae agrees.
    • The parcel is just a collection of old letters, Henchard says.
    • Since Farfrae already knows the story about the young lady Henchard was supposed to have married (but still doesn't know her name), Henchard starts reading snippets of the letters to him.
    • Farfrae has no idea why Henchard is reading him these letters, but he listens politely.
    • Henchard is on the verge of telling Farfrae that the young lady was Lucetta, but he can't bring himself to.
  • Chapter 35

    • Lucetta overhears Henchard reading her old letters to Farfrae, and she's terrified that Henchard will reveal the truth.
    • At the end of their conversation, she hears Farfrae advising Henchard to burn the letters, and Henchard refuses to do so.
    • The next day Lucetta sends a note to Henchard asking him to meet her at the Casterbridge Ring.
    • This, of course, is the same spot where Henchard was first reunited with Susan.
    • She begs him to give her the letters so she can destroy them and to stop fooling around and promise never to tell Farfrae the truth.
    • He feels sorry for her and promises.
  • Chapter 36

    • On Lucetta's way home, she sees Joshua Jopp.
    • He stops her and asks if she'll vouch for his character to Farfrae so he can get a job.
    • She says she doesn't know him at all – how could she vouch for his character?
    • He says he used to live in Jersey when she did.
    • This might be true, but she still didn't know him.
    • She leaves. He's angry at her and goes home.
    • Henchard is still crashing at Jopp's house.
    • He doesn't want to be seen carrying the parcel of letters to Farfrae's house, so he asks Jopp to do it.
    • Jopp agrees but doesn't go straight there.
    • He stops for a few drinks at a pub in the seedy part of town.
    • He opens the parcel and reads a few of the letters.
    • He even passes some of them around so the other seedy characters in the pub can read them, too.
    • The people in the pub start talking about doing a "skimmity-ride."
    • A newcomer in the pub asks what a skimmity-ride is.
    • The innkeeper explains that it's something people do to expose a woman's bad reputation, but she doesn't go into further details.
    • Jopp seals up the letters and the package again and delivers it to Lucetta first thing in the morning.
    • She burns them immediately, little suspecting that half the town already knows their contents.
  • Chapter 37

    • There's a big hubbub in Casterbridge: a member of the British royal family is planning to travel through town.
    • Farfrae, as the mayor, is in charge of welcoming the royal procession.
    • He and Lucetta are all decked out in their finest clothes.
    • Henchard is determined to take part in the welcoming ceremony, even though he's no longer mayor and holds no official office at all.
    • Elizabeth-Jane is worried that Henchard is up to something and tries to get him to accompany her to see the procession.
    • But he pushes his way to the front and thrusts out his hand to shake hands with the guest of honor.
    • This could be seen as an insult to the royal guest, so Farfrae leaps forward and shoves Henchard aside.
    • Of course, this makes Henchard totally furious.
    • He backs down for the moment because they're in public, but he plans to get his revenge.
    • Meanwhile, some of the townspeople who know about Lucetta's letters are planning to set up the skimmity-ride for later that night.
    • A lot of them think it's not a good idea – Farfrae is a good man, and Lucetta has been proper enough since coming to Casterbridge. If she has secrets from her past, it's none of their business.
    • But Joshua Jopp pushes them into it because he's angry at both Lucetta and Henchard and wants revenge.
  • Chapter 38

    • Lucetta had a great time at the royal procession.
    • She got to wear a gorgeous new dress and bonnet and sit in front of everyone in town like she was a queen herself.
    • The only hitch was the incident with Henchard, but she thinks Farfrae handled that like a pro.
    • Henchard goes back to the warehouses after the incident to wait for Farfrae.
    • He climbs up into one of the hay lofts.
    • When Farfrae comes back, Henchard calls him to come up.
    • Farfrae doesn't suspect anything and comes up.
    • Henchard says that now that they're face to face, man to man, he wants to fight Farfrae. Basically, the winner is whoever managers to push the other guy out of the hayloft.
    • The fall is over thirty feet and would likely be fatal.
    • Henchard is bigger and stronger than Farfrae, but he doesn't want to take advantage, so he's tied one hand behind his back.
    • Before Farfrae has a chance to object, Henchard attacks, and Farfrae has to defend himself.
    • Even with one arm tied, Henchard is still stronger.
    • He quickly has Farfrae dangling half out the window.
    • But he can't go through with it – he pulls Farfrae back inside.
    • Farfrae says nothing, just climbs back out of the hayloft and leaves.
    • Henchard stays in the hayloft for a while, thinking.
  • Chapter 39

    • Farfrae goes home and finds that someone has sent a note asking him to visit the town of Weatherbury on business.
    • He'd been planning to go to Budmouth that evening, but the note makes the problem in Weatherbury seem more urgent, so he goes there instead.
    • The note was actually from some of Farfrae's employees. They'd heard that the skimmity-ride was planned for that night, and they wanted him to be gone so he wouldn't be humiliated.
    • They didn't worry about Lucetta, since they all believed that the scandal they'd heard was true.
    • That evening at about eight o'clock, there's a commotion outdoors.
    • Lucetta is sitting in her living room and doesn't think much of it.
    • Then she hears her servants describing what they see out the window.
    • It's a parade with two life-sized figures tied to a donkey.
    • One of them is dressed as Henchard and the other is dressed just as Lucetta was that day at the royal procession!
    • The whole town is out to see it.
    • Elizabeth-Jane suddenly arrives.
    • She's seen the parade and heard the gossip and has come to take care of Lucetta.
    • She tries to close the windows, but Lucetta won't let her.
    • Lucetta is almost hysterical.
    • She's afraid her husband will find out and stop loving her.
    • Lucetta faints and Elizabeth-Jane calls for the doctor.
    • The doctor comes and says things are serious.
    • Lucetta is pregnant, so the excitement and fainting fits are particularly bad for her.
    • Elizabeth-Jane sends one of Farfrae's servants to go after him and bring him back.
    • Unfortunately, Farfrae didn't tell anyone about his change of plan. The servants all think he went to Budmouth.
    • Only Henchard, who saw him leave, knows he'd actually gone toward Weatherbury.
    • The constable and police go around town trying to catch the organizers of the skimmity-ride, but no one owns up, and the constable just shrugs it off.
  • Chapter 40

    • Henchard sees the parade and the parodies of Lucetta and himself as he's walking home.
    • He tries to find Elizabeth-Jane and is told she's gone to Lucetta's house.
    • Henchard goes back to the Farfraes' and learns that Lucetta is dangerously sick and that someone has gone after Farfrae to bring him home.
    • When Henchard hears this, he tries to tell them that Farfrae actually went to Weatherbury, not Budmouth.
    • No one believes him, so Henchard sets off on foot to find Farfrae himself.
    • Of course, when he finds Farfrae, Farfrae doesn't believe him, either. After all, he tried to kill him just a few hours before.
    • Henchard comes back to Casterbridge without Farfrae and learns that Lucetta has gotten worse.
    • When he sees Elizabeth-Jane, he realizes what an idiot he's been. She might not be his real daughter, but she's the next best thing.
    • When Henchard goes back to Jopp's that night, Jopp tells him that a sailor came to see him while he was out.
    • The sailor didn't leave a name, and Henchard forgets about it.
    • Farfrae gets home late that night and Lucetta calms down a lot.
    • She confesses everything to him, but by the next morning she has died.
  • Chapter 41

    • 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.
  • Chapter 42

    • Lucetta is buried at the church and Farfrae grieves for her.
    • Of course, if Lucetta had lived, he would have been angry that she lied to him about her past, but since she's dead, it's a lot easier to forgive her.
    • Henchard and Farfrae avoid each other, but Farfrae sticks with his old plan to set Henchard up with a grain and seed shop in town.
    • The shop does well, and Elizabeth-Jane helps out a lot.
    • Henchard does whatever Elizabeth-Jane says. He's terrified of offending her and making her move away.
    • He notices that she has a lot of new books and wonders how she can afford them when she's usually so good about saving money.
    • She avoids his questions when he asks about them, and he doesn't press the point.
    • He begins to suspect that Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane are an item, and he's heartbroken at the idea that Farfrae might take Elizabeth-Jane away from him.
    • But he doesn't want to interfere. He's come to realize that Elizabeth-Jane has the right to do what she likes, as does Farfrae.
    • He does, however, start spying on her.
    • He sees the two of them meet on one of her long walks.
    • He's jealous, but still promises himself not to interfere.
  • Chapter 43

    • The rest of the town soon realizes that Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane are likely to get married.
    • Henchard wonders what will happen if they do.
    • Should he live with them in their house and try to make himself as inconspicuous as possible? Tiptoe around the house and try to repress his jealousy of Farfrae for the sake of staying close to Elizabeth-Jane?
    • The engagement hasn't been officially announced, and Henchard still hasn't decided what to do.
    • Then one day he sees Newson on the road outside of town where Elizabeth-Jane often walks.
    • Henchard is terrified.
    • Newson doesn't see him, though, and Elizabeth-Jane doesn't happen to walk that way.
    • That night, Henchard tells Elizabeth-Jane that he has decided to leave Casterbridge.
    • She's very sad to hear it and is afraid that it's because he doesn't approve of her marrying Farfrae.
    • He says he's fine with her marrying if she wants to, but that things might get awkward if he stays.
    • She's sorry he won't be there for the wedding.
    • He says he must go and asks her not to forget him.
    • Elizabeth-Jane still thinks it's because of Farfrae, but it's really because Newson is back, and Henchard can't stand the idea of her learning the truth and hating him for it.
    • He leaves quietly and in secret.
    • Elizabeth-Jane walks with him to the edge of town, still hoping he'll change his mind.
    • After she says goodbye to Henchard, she meets Farfrae on her way back into town.
    • He says he has a friend waiting to see her.
    • It's Richard Newson! He's been in town for a while, and has been hanging out at Farfrae's house.
    • He's the one who's been sending money to Elizabeth-Jane to buy the books, but she didn't realize who it was.
    • It's now obvious to Elizabeth-Jane why Henchard left.
    • Newson explains that he's her real father, and Henchard isn't there to defend himself by explaining that he honestly believed Elizabeth-Jane was his real daughter until he read Susan's note.
    • Elizabeth-Jane is understandably angry at Henchard, especially when she hears how he told Newson she was dead.
    • Newson, surprisingly, isn't all that angry about that.
    • Newson is excited about the wedding between Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane.
    • He's gotten to know Farfrae pretty well over the past couple of weeks, and he thinks he'll make a good husband for his daughter.
  • Chapter 44

    • Henchard, meanwhile, walks straight out of town and keeps walking until he can't go any further.
    • He sleeps the first night in a hayfield.
    • Eventually he arrives at Weydon, the town where he sold Susan.
    • He can't stop thinking about Elizabeth-Jane, and instead of walking still further away from Casterbridge, he starts walking in an orbit around the town.
    • He constantly imagines what Elizabeth-Jane might be doing – going on a walk, working on her sewing, etc.
    • Meanwhile, back in Casterbridge, Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae are celebrating their wedding.
    • Everyone is dancing, Newson just as exuberantly as any of the young folks.
  • Chapter 45

    • About a month after the wedding, Elizabeth-Jane starts thinking about her stepfather.
    • She feels bad for him – she knows he must be penniless and possibly homeless.
    • Farfrae immediately agrees to help find him.
    • They drive around, asking if anyone has seen him.
    • They search and search, and eventually they find Abel Whittle, the old employee who now works for Farfrae.
    • Whittle is just going into a cottage.
    • Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane call to him and ask what he's doing so far from Casterbridge.
    • He explains that he found Henchard on the road – cold, wet, and sick – and took him to an empty cottage to take care of him.
    • Whittle explains that Henchard was kind to his mother when she was poor and sick, and so it only seemed right.
    • Henchard died just 30 minutes before Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae arrived.
    • They go in and see that Henchard has written a will. He doesn't want to be buried in the churchyard, he doesn't want a funeral, or flowers on his grave, and he doesn't want anyone to remember him.