Hardy's intent in writing the novel was to catalogue the realities of Dorset life in a fictional context. However bizarre it may seem, the opening event of the novel, where Henchard sells his wife, was based on a real account written in the Dorset County Chronicle. Hardy used this text and others to gather stories of ordinary (and extraordinary) people, and many of these tales were interwoven into his novels.
Hardy's purpose, as he saw it, was as an observer and recorder of life. His work was meant to be historical record as well as compelling narration. As was recorded in the 1912 edition of the Wessex novels Hardy said:
At the dates represented in the various narrations, things were like that in Wessex: the inhabitants lived in certain ways, engaged in certain occupations, kept alive certain customs, just as they are shown doing in these pages. . . . I have instituted inquiries to correct tricks of memory and striven against temptations to exaggerate in order to preserve for my own satisfaction a fairly true record of a vanishing life.
my teacher said in the lecture of mayor of casterbridge that this novel is a masterpiece simply because it has many conflicts not like other novels that had one line that's why mayor of casterbridge was published in series or ( installments ) by making(cliffhangers) making the reader in a continous suspense ,also no feeling in the novel is simple as the character of Henchard is phsyco complicated .he sold his wife and his daughter in thr spur of the moment then he regrets what he had done ;so this novel has a phsycological depth