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Free Study Guide for The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy-MonkeyNotes
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CHAPTER NOTES AND SUMMARY

CHAPTER 13

Summary

Henchard hires a cottage for Susan and starts visiting her regularly. In accordance with the plan, he proposes marriage after a reasonable period. His motives in remarrying her are three. The first is to make amends for his past behavior; the second is to provide a home for Elizabeth-Jane; and the third is to punish himself for his past misconduct towards his wife and daughter. For many people in town, Henchard's courting of Susan is puzzling. Much to dismay of the townsfolk, the couple remarries on a rainy November day with Farfrae as witness.

Notes

Henchard's marriage to Susan does not bode well. Everything in this chapter points to the disparity between his and Susan's positions. He is wealthy, handsome, and blustery, whereas she is sickly, indigent, and lacking confidence and stamina. He is the center of town gossip as he woos her, a woman whom the young boys in town call "The Ghost;" she barely makes an impact on anyone other than a constant reference to how he has not married someone of his caliber. Despite the ominous signs that reveal all is not going to go as planned in this new venture of Henchard, he blusters ahead with resolve to absolve himself of his crime against his wife and daughter. Even the rainy November weather seems to foreshadow what is to come.


This chapter is noted for the ribald humor of the townspeople who have gathered to discuss the wedding of their mayor. Again the use of dialect and quaint, merry rejoinders serve to deflect some of the seriousness of the conversation of how unlikely a match Michael Henchard has made.

CHAPTER 14

Summary

After the marriage, Elizabeth-Jane finds that Henchard, whom she regards as her stepfather, treats her with kindness and affection. She is happy with her new life, but does not become proud or haughty. Henchard proposes that Elizabeth-Jane should now be called Miss Elizabeth-Jane Henchard instead of Miss Elizabeth- Jane Newson, but Susan objects to this change of name. Henchard also comments to Susan that she had once announced that Elizabeth-Jane's hair would be dark, and yet it is lighter than he remembered. Susan reprimands him for almost disclosing their secret.

Meanwhile, there is greater prosperity for Henchard, for his corn and hay business flourishes under Farfrae's management. As a manager, Farfrae is systematic, unlike the disorganized Henchard.

One day Elizabeth-Jane receives a note asking her to meet the writer at a granary at Dornover Hill. Farfrae receives a similar note. When both of them meet each other, each thinks the other has summoned them. Both of them disown responsibility and agree that someone has taken a great liberty with them.

Notes

The change in the circumstances of Susan and Elizabeth-Jane from poverty to prosperity is welcome to both and reveals a reversal of fortune often seen in Greek tragedy. But a few incidents which occur hint at future disturbances. First, Henchard does not understand why Susan opposes the change in Elizabeth-Jane's name, nor does he understand why Elizabeth-Jane's hair has changed color. These incidents pique the reader's interest as well as Susan's demeanor.

Although Elizabeth-Jane has all she wants, she continues to be cautious about life and modest in expenditures. She knows that Fate can turn hostile to human beings at any time. Like Farfrae, she is very observant and notices the growing intimacy between Henchard and his manager. She sees how Henchard treats Farfrae as a younger brother; she also sees how her stepfather's tendency to domineer is beginning to irritate the younger man.

The meeting between Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae accounts for another step in the plot development. Due to an unaccountable shyness on her part, Elizabeth-Jane does not want to meet him alone. This points to a natural delicacy in her. Though both of them do not talk of anything that is significant, due to a restraint on both sides, they part with a heightened awareness of each other, especially on Farfrae's part. At the end of the chapter, the reader is left wondering who sent the letter.

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