Essay on “The Mayor of Casterbridge” by Thomas Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge –  Final Essay

Prompt :  The Mayor of Casterbridge is a wonderful story with vivid characters and a crazy plot that rolls out in unexpected ways.  But it is also a tragic story where a deeply flawed character makes horrid decisions that I dread along the way (I can’t tell you the number of times I yelled, “No!” into my book.  While Thomas Hardy believed a person’s life was the result of forces outside of their control, at times, I don’t get that with Michael Henchard.  It doesn’t seem the universe exerts forces that change his fate.  I want so much to like the character, but is he even likable?

Write a 5-6 page essay that provides a character analysis of Henchard, discussing whether he is a victim of Hardy’s deterministic world, or whether his life is a product of his own decisions.  This essay prompt requires a summary of the novel, a brief rhetorical context, and a strong thesis that identifies Henchard as a sympathetic character (or not) and how he reconciles within the framework of Hardy’s general attitude regarding life.  This will require some research into Hardy’s ideology (include references) and specific examples from the novel that demonstrate your idea.

This essay requires a deeper dive than surface analysis coupled with research regarding Hardy’s perspective on life and how it jives with his novel.

You will need to:

Provide a summary and brief rhetorical context for the novel.

Define and explain the critical theory you will be considering (with resources).

Apply the theory to the novel with critical resources that tie to specific portions of the novel (with specific examples).

You may want to research what other critics have said about Hardy’s novel.



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