Thomas Hardy – The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)

Michael and Susan Henchard are traveling through Wessex to Weydon-Priors with their young daughter. At a furmity dealer, Mike gets drunk and sells his wife to Captain Newsome. Mike moves to Casterbridge, where slowly raises himself to the most powerful, richest position as mayor, but not before swearing himself off liquor for twenty years. Susan returns to Casterbridge with Elizabeth-Jane. The Scottish Donald Farfrae is persuaded by Henchard to stay and be his foreman. Mike courts Susan and marries her. She dies, Mike tells E-J that he is her father. Then he finds a letter from Susan saying that E-J is Newsome’s daughter. E-J moves out of the house to Lucetta Templman’s house. Lucetta was a young woman that wanted to marry Mike before Susan turned up. Before he can stop by, she meets Farfrae and falls in love. All this time, Donald is superceding Henchard, who hires some lowlife named Jopp and through speculation manages to bankrupt himself. He proposes to Lucetta but she refuses; he threatens to tell Farfrae about their past, but does not and gives up her letters to be burnt. He moves out of the house and starts working for Farfrae, who is still super nice. Despite wanting to kill him, Henchard can’t bring himself to do it. Farfrae marries Lucetta. The poor folk that live in the swamp make an effigy of Lucetta and Mike and parade it through town, which literally kills Lucetta (but not before she confesses all to Donald). Donald turns around quickly and marries E-J pretty quickly. Hencahrd almost committs suicide but sees his effigy swirling in the pool that he was planning to dive into. Newsome returns but Hencahrd says E-J is dead. But Newsome returns again later on. Henchard leaves and wanders around until he eventually dies.

Imbedded Narrative Arcs

 Alternative Economies

Dangers of Speculation


Burial Ground


Describing Movement (and failing)



Flaubert, by ironizing Frederic, shows the bourgeois aesthete to be an idiot (and so am I and you, and art is complicit in world)

Hardy: the reason the world is terrible is because it’s not like art, I need to sacrifice Jude to a fasle structure of causality (plot) that is a social world unlike art…

So that the work of art can be ameilorist…


Oscillation between oscillation between omniscience and engaged spectator who speculates on reasons and causality, etc…

Node of all orbits (malignant star) (165) as means of reconciling, materially, the epistemological toggling between resident and omniscient

Can’t describe movement…the minute detail deflates


Tragedy exhibits a state of things in life of individual which unavoidably causes some natural aim or desire of his to end in a catastrophe when carried out.

Played out like Sophoclean tragedy (timing)…the social is structured such that own functions as a chorus…

Use of time gaps to convey change, tragedy…disunity of time is what allows it to function as a tragedy

Performative language, no predicting what performative structure will do…

Pure contingect, pure fate…they somehow are opposites that becomes identical.

Three big tropes: drink, gambling (pure contingency seems to open up, but it proves to be an illusion later on), marriage

Connecting narrative movements: making the small large, making the large small (the conclusion contains both)

Pleasure is only ever parenthetical…



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