The Mayor of Casterbridge

by Thomas Hardy

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Hardy describes "Mr Henchard as a man of strong impulses." Discuss briefly with the reference to the wife selling episodes.

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Michael Henchard’s impulsivity is evident in his actions. Of course, his most recklessly spontaneous act occurs in the first chapter of the text. While surreptitiously imbibing rum from his bowl of furmity, he shockingly sells his wife (and child) for a pittance.  The following morning, he is seemingly repentant, even manifesting an adequate degree of sorrow for his actions. However, he repeats his spontaneous and impulsive behavior. After only briefly beginning his search for his forsaken wife and child, “he resolved to register an oath, a greater oath than he had ever sworn before.”  Although this decision resulted in a loss of time, he failed s to consider the impact that this might have on his search. Rather, he finds the nearest church and pledges to abstain from alcohol consumption for twenty-one years. (This decision is as rash and immoderate as the first.) These actions are not isolated incidents. On the contrary, they are indicative of an impulsive personality. For instance, when Henchard has established himself as the mayor of Casterbridge, Susan (the wife he sold like chattel) remarks that she notices his “sudden liking for that young man” (Donald Farfrae). On the next morning, despite Farfrae’s protestations, Henchard convinces him to remain in Casterbridge. He hires him as his manager although he has a previously agreed to hire another man (Joshua Jopp).

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