Study Guide

The Mayor of Casterbridge Chapter 18

By Thomas Hardy

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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.

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