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Compare the character of Henchard in The Mayor of Casterbridge and Emma Bovary...

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dody91 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted December 15, 2010 at 3:03 AM via web

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Compare the character of Henchard in The Mayor of Casterbridge and Emma Bovary in  Madam Bovary.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 18, 2010 at 11:59 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that you can find some levels of comparison between Henchard and Bovary.  Both of them view marriage as a prison of sorts.  Henchard believes that marriage ruined his chances at life, while Emma believes that her marriage to Charles and the domestic life crushes her own dreams.  Both characters view the need to remove this obstacle as motivation to destroy their own marriages.  Both characters start from humble beginnings and use their ability to dream and envision a new life as the impetus for their actions as they become older.  Both of them face personal and financial ruin for their actions.  In the end, both of their ends are fairly brutal from both physical and psychological points of view.  I think that there are some differences in that Henchard had a particular skill, as befitting of most men of the time period.  Emma, being a woman, was not able to cultivate this into something that would allow her to accomplish her dreams outside the domain of marriage.  While Henchard wishes no one to remember his name, Emma's ending is much more "realistic," in that the story continues after her own demise, seeing her husband die and her child sent off to work at an unhealthy age.  At this, I think that Emma's narrative is more harsh than Henchard's.

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