Who are four major characters in The Mayor of Casterbridge?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Clearly I am only going to be able to give you a brief summary of four major characters, so I have also given you a few links below to the enotes study section of this novel that will be able to provide you with more information.

The mayor of the title of this novel is called Michael Henchard, who is the tragic hero that, in the opening chapter, sells his wife in a drunken rage and then goes on to become mayor of Casterbridge and re-marry his former wife. He is a strange mixture of good and bad, as he is very reliable and honest in his business dealings, but also sometimes is very cruel and can punish excessively.

Donald Farfrae is presented as being the opposite of Michael Henchard in many ways. He becomes Henchard's business manager, but brings with him a new set of ideas and change that in many ways brings improvement but also has some disadvantages. Young and handsome, Farfrae is everything that Henchard is not, and Farfrae's success emphasises the failures of Henchard, creating a massive tension between these two characters.

Elizabeth-Jane is supposedly the daughter of Henchard and his wife that he sells in the opening chapter. As she re-enters his life, she is shown to be a beautiful and confident young lady who is depicted as being very sensitive and is eager to improve her position. However, we later discover that she is not actually Henchard's daughter. She becomes romantically involved with Farfrae and marries him.

Lastly, Susan Henchard, the mother of Elizabeth-Jane and former wife of Henchard, is presented as being a very passive character. She is sold in the opening chapters and does not resist this, seeming to be powerless to avoid a higher fate that others have decided for her. She does however exert herself to re-enter the life of Henchard to ensure her daughter's future and provision. The townspeople refer to her as "the ghost" which seems to consolidate her passive role in the novel.

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The Mayor of Casterbridge

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