How Is Fate And Chance Presented In Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor Of Casterbridge? St.Albans Year 12 Essay

1968 words - 8 pages

How is Fate and Chance presented in Thomas Hardy’s the Mayor of Casterbridge?
The people of the 1800s believed in many superstitions however, the 19th Century is generally remembered as a time of science and technology, when the ideas of Charles Darwin and Samuel Morse changed the world forever. Perhaps the otherworldly was a way to hold on to a superstitious past. According to Thomas Hardy “an evil power rules the human’s destinies which thwart all human efforts at making or improving our lots.” This 19th century belief in the otherworldly and evil powers is presented in ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ through the idea of fate and chance. Throughout the novel fate and chance work against Henchard and make him their victim. One critic went as far as describing Henchard becoming “a puppet of his own destiny” suggesting he has no control over the course of his life this suggests that Henchard id a helpless protagonist when it comes to the role of fate. I agree with this view to an extent however ultimately his own actions and views are the cause of his downfall and misery even though fate and chance seem to follow each of his actions and worsen the situation. So I believe that fate and chance furthers the tragedy as his downfall is not purely a consequence of his actions. This technique was used in many Greek tragedies. A Greek tragedy is a play in which the protagonist, usually a man of importance falls to disaster through the combination of a personal failing and circumstances with which he cannot deal. The circumstances in this case being the chance of each event coinciding, each one doing even more damage. A critic also made this comparison by stating that “Hardy saw a man beaten down by forces within and without himself and sought to record man’s eternal struggle with fate. This is also what the Greeks and Shakespeare do.”
Ultimately the return of Susan and Elizabeth Jane is the fault of Henchard’s as they would have not had to return if he had never made the mistake of selling his wife. However, there is an element of fate as if he had not done that it is unlikely that he would have found the same success. Also if Newson hadn’t have been lost at sea Susan would have not have sought after Henchard. Susan returns after 18 years, long after Henchard assumes her to be dead, this timing coincides with Henchard’s decision to marry Lucetta and Susan’s arrival upsets Henchard’s plans and leads to a series of misfortunes for Henchard. Henchard chooses to fix his mistakes by re-marrying Susan but recognises that “by doing Susan right I wrong another woman.” If Henchard had followed through on his promise to marry Lucetta a lot of the later events such as Lucetta’s meeting with Farfrae would not have happened. As ever since Susan’s arrival there was “something in the air which had changed his luck.” As it is from the moment Susan arrives things start rapidly declining as it is also during a bad harvest meaning most of the townspeople were not in his...

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