Header Ads

Chance and Coincidence in The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

 The Mayor of Casterbridge

Thomas Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy - Chance and Coincidence

Q. Discuss the elements of chance and coincidence in The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Answer: "The Mayor of Casterbridge" by Thomas Hardy is a novel that deals with the theme of fate and coincidence. The story is set in the fictional town of Casterbridge, England, and revolves around the life of Michael Henchard, who becomes the mayor of the town. The novel is characterized by a series of coincidences and chance occurrences that shape the life of Henchard and other characters. In this answer, I will discuss the elements of chance and coincidence in the novel.

One of the most significant examples of chance and coincidence in the novel is the opening scene, where Henchard and his wife, Susan, arrive in Casterbridge after walking for days in search of work. They stop at an inn, and while they are having a drink, Henchard gets drunk and sells his wife and child to a sailor for five guineas. This incident sets the tone for the rest of the novel and establishes the idea that events in the novel are governed by chance.

Another example of coincidence in the novel is the meeting between Henchard and Farfrae. When Farfrae arrives in Casterbridge, Henchard hires him as his manager. However, their relationship becomes strained, and Henchard fires Farfrae. Later, Farfrae becomes successful in the same business that Henchard was engaged in, and they meet again. This chance meeting leads to reconciliation between the two, and Farfrae helps Henchard in his time of need.

Similarly, the character of Lucetta is introduced into the novel by a series of coincidences. She is introduced to Henchard by chance, and they become friends. Later, when Farfrae arrives in Casterbridge, she falls in love with him, and they become engaged. However, her past catches up with her, and her engagement to Farfrae is broken off. She then turns to Henchard for help, and this leads to her tragic end.

Another example of chance and coincidence in the novel is the auction of Henchard's wife and child. Years later, when Henchard has become the mayor of Casterbridge, Susan and her daughter, Elizabeth-Jane, return to the town. By chance, they attend the same auction where Henchard is selling off his old furniture, and Henchard recognizes his wife and daughter. This coincidence sets off a chain of events that leads to the revelation of Henchard's past and the unraveling of his life.

Furthermore, the weather plays a role in the novel as a symbol of chance and fate. The novel begins with a description of a storm that Henchard and Susan encounter on their way to Casterbridge, which foreshadows the turbulent events that will shape their lives. Later, the weather conditions affect the characters' lives in various ways, such as the floods that damage Henchard's business and the storm that leads to Lucetta's death.

Moreover, the theme of chance and coincidence is also reflected in the title of the novel. Casterbridge is a town that is characterized by its history and traditions, which are the result of chance occurrences and accidents. The town's name is derived from the fact that it was built on a hill by a Roman fortress, which was a chance occurrence. Similarly, Henchard becomes the mayor of Casterbridge by chance when he wins a bet with the current mayor.

In brief, chance and coincidence are pervasive themes in "The Mayor of Casterbridge," reflecting the belief in Victorian society that one's fate was often determined by external factors beyond their control. The novel highlights the role of chance in shaping the characters' lives and underscores the fragility of human existence. Hardy's use of chance and coincidence adds to the novel's sense of realism and naturalism, portraying a world that is unpredictable and often tragic.

In conclusion, chance and coincidence play a significant role in "The Mayor of Casterbridge." The novel portrays a world in which events are not controlled by the characters' actions or decisions but are shaped by fate and chance. The characters are constantly at the mercy of unpredictable events and circumstances that affect their lives. The novel shows that despite their best efforts, people cannot control their destiny, and their lives are determined by the whims of fate.


Read also: 🔎

👉 Robert Frost, as a poet of Nature in American literature

👉 Transcendentalist Movement in American literature

👉 Lady Lazarus - Sylvia Plath’s view towards a fascistic male

👉 American Literature: Features, Notable Writers and their Works

Post a Comment