Many believe that a human’s personality determines their place in life. In the Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy explores the role of character in determining fate. He uses a character’s personality flaws to determine their fate. Hardy utilizes such traits as temper, naivety, control problems, and shyness. Hardy takes his character and places them in a situation where their personalities usually make the situation worse.
Throughout the novel the character, Lucetta, is portrayed as a spoiled child. She likes things to be the best for herself. She comes to Casterbridge in order to finish what she and Henchard proposed to do earlier, that is, marry one another. When she refuses to see him, because she likes Farfrae, she is intentionally provoking him. Henchard confronts her about this matter and he marriage to him. Lucetta refuses to marry until Henchard threatens to black mail her. He intends to black mail her with the love letters she wrote him earlier. She agrees to the marriage. Lucetta, however, marries Farfrae. She does this because he is good looking, better off than Henchard, and totally infatuated with her. This course was the best for her at the moment. She knew of Henchard’s past, she had experienced his temper, and was afraid he would ruin her. Lucetta also puts a great deal of emphasis on looks.
Earlier in the story, she had fallen in love with Henchard. After he left Jersey, Lucetta wrote Henchard love letters. These letters would become her down fall. She died of shock (or possibly miscarriage) after the skimmity ride. The only reason the townsfolk knew about her past with Henchard were these love letters. She had trustingly asked Henchard to deliver them back to her keeping so that she could destroy them. If she had trusted him enough to return the letters, why couldn’t she trust him to destroy them?
Henchard’s fate was strongly rooted in his character. He has several character flaws that contributed to the break down of every relationship he had. At the beginning of the novel it is his temper that starts the whole story off. At the fair in Weydon – Priors, he becomes angry with his wife while he is drunk. Henchard tries to sell her because he believes that it is Susan’s and the child’s fault that he is not successful. This is evidently not the first time. He finds an interested man who pays five pounds and five shillings for her. This of course is the beginning of the break down of his family life and his role as a father. Henchard is upset when he sobers up the next morning. There are other instance where Henchard’s temper destroys his relationships.
The next episode in the story is when Farfrae’s idea for the fair works better than his own. In a fit of jealous rage, Henchard fires his good friend. This alienates Farfrae from both Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane. It also distances Henchard from Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae. His temper has now caused a fault in his business and his family. Farfrae sets up a business in competition with him. Henchard also denies Farfrae the right to court his daughter. This of course pushes Elizabeth-Jane farther from her father.
In Henchard’s anger and other habits there is an element of control. That is lack of control. Henchard, it seems, likes his drink. In the beginning of the story he asks for some liquor to be added to his furmity. Once drunk, he losses control and becomes angry. This of course leads to the family break up. In the morning, he swears,
While he is sober for those years, he is very prosperous. Henchard becomes a wealthy corn merchant as well as the Mayor of Casterbridge. However, when the twenty-one years are over he starts drinking again. Prior to this because of his temper and the such, he is a ruined man. When he takes up drinking again it just hastens the downward spiral he is on. He is an embarrassment to himself and all that know him.
This quote is from the visitation of the Royal Personage. Farfrae had set up a reception for the royal guest. Henchard’s presence at the arrival