The Mayor of Casterbridge

by Thomas Hardy

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I want a heart-to-heart understanding of Elizabeth-Jane in The Mayor of Casterbridge and some questions to ask about her.

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Elizabeth-Jane has natural assets like good-nature, loving attitude and beauty but has no education or breeding to enable her natural abilities to stand out to notice. She's self-effacing and diffident meaning she doesn't seek attention and is reserved and lacking confidence. This is especially shown by her behavior when Farfrae rejects her for Miss Templeman. She is ready to forgive and quick to accept. Both of these traits are shown in her attitudes and behaviors toward Henchard, such as when he breaks the news of his paternity and at his death. Finally, she is devoted as her watchfulness at her mother's bedside during her last illness shows. Questions that might help you get an even deeper understanding of Elizabeth-Jane follow.

What are Elizabeth-Jane's thoughts on the night between the news that Henchard is her father and the morning when she embraces his arm and first addresses him as "father"? We pretty clearly know her feelings, she weeps beside the fire, but what is her process of thought that leads her from one circumstance to the next? Is Elizabeth-Jane actually something of a simpleton or is she really a magnanimous soul that naturally accepts and forgives in the extreme? How would Elizabeth-Jane's character traits have been different had she been properly educated? Would her character be materially different or essentially the same?

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