attempt an illustration of the notion of the survival of the fittest by Thomas Hardy in The Mayor of Casterbridge.

kkr | Student

Hardy's novels represent his own fascination with the concept of the 'fate'.Derived from the oracular tradition of the Greek tragedy the 'fate' as described by hardy in 'Dynasts', as the tragic doom which engulfs the characters and in spite of their best efforts they succumb. The only characters that survive are deeply rooted in the tradition or are connected with the notion of the rationale. According to the Darwinists of the later victorian era fate is actually the unforgiving nature and the characters are always in a survival of the fittest struggle in which the unfit and infirm characters get erased though they are often more passionate and their destiny more tragic than the others.

Henchard presents all the traits of a tragic hero. His hubris led to the fatal flaw or the hamartia of selling his wife and his peripety is brought about by stubborn impulsive character. He is also in stark opposition to the victorian notions of morality and social righteousness. His overarching passion makes him quite a threat ,redundant and incompatible to the victorian social fabric. He was also posing threat to Farfrae and was becoming an impedement to the proper sexual selection of the society, an obstacle to the path of proper adapted , evolutionized progression of the species. Such a specimen must die out or it can pose a serious threat to the whole plan of natural selection. So in the Hardyesque scheme of things he dies. Lucetta sexual infidelity and her emphasis on choosing the lover when she pleases also make her equivalent to Henchard and unfit in the scheme of natural selection and so does the meek and mild Susan Henchard who can only give birth to defective offsprings. The ultimate survival of Farfrae and Elizabeth Jane Newson fits perfectly with the social rubrics of morality and rationality. The farsightedness of Farfrae, his physio-sexual prowess and the submissive nature of Elizabeth and their union isĀ  fit for healthy sexual propagation and continuation of the species in the scheme of natural selection.

Read the study guide:
The Mayor of Casterbridge

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question