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Free Study Guide for The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy-MonkeyNotes
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND ANALYSIS

CHAPTER 21

Summary

The unknown lady rents a house called High-Place Hall. When evening comes, Elizabeth-Jane goes there and enters through one of the open doors. Suddenly alarmed by her own boldness, she quickly exits quickly through a back door. While making her way home, she hears footsteps approaching. Not wishing to be seen and the hour being late, she hides behind a truck pier. Had she looked for the person that had been approaching, she would have found Henchard entering High-Place Hall.

Elizabeth broaches the subject of her imminent departure to Henchard. He gives his permission readily, for he is quite indifferent to what she does. Elizabeth-Jane again meets the stranger at the churchyard and learns that her name is Miss Templeman. They decide that Elizabeth-Jane will move into High- Place Hall that evening. Henchard is taken aback by her prompt departure and tries, at the last minute, to persuade her to remain. Elizabeth-Jane remains firm in her decision and leaves for High- Place Hall. Her destination comes as a shock to Henchard.

Notes

Besides giving accurate and descriptive details of High-Place Hall, the reader gets the feeling that it symbolizes intrigue and portends something sinister to come, especially when Henchard goes there. The importance of its location in the center of town will also become clear later in the novel.

Elizabeth-Jane's desire for propriety is again seen in this chapter. She is shocked at herself for having gone in an open door at High- Place Hall and quickly exits out the back; and she is apprehensive about being seen in a back alley at a late hour. She certainly does not want to do anything that Henchard could scold he for.


Fate again plays its hand in this chapter. The strange lady that Elizabeth-Jane happens to meet and bare her heart to is Miss Templeman, who happens to be Lucetta, the former lover of Henchard. When Henchard himself goes to see her at High-Place Hall, he barely misses being seen by Elizabeth-Jane, who is hiding in the alley.

Henchard's indifference towards Elizabeth-Jane encourages her departure from his home. Once she decides to leave, she seems to become more independent. She announces to Henchard that she will move out the same night, which at first relieves him. Henchard even provides her with a small annuity so that she can be independent of him. When she is ready to leave, he realizes how lonely he will be and asks her to stay. Elizabeth-Jane refuses; however, she bears him no malice and graciously tells him she will be with him any time he needs her.

It is important to note that Henchard constantly offers some sort of monetary payment or financial arrangement to make up for his lack of emotional support or horrendous behavior. When he deserted Lucetta, he sent her money. When Susan came back to town, he sent her money. When Elizabeth-Jane moves out, he gives her money.

CHAPTER 22

Summary

Henchard's clandestine visit to High-Place Hall now becomes clear. He had gone there in response to a letter written by Lucetta. She expects Henchard to marry her now that his wife is dead. When Henchard goes to High-Place Hall, he inquires if a Miss Le Sueur is present. He is informed that Miss Templeman lives there. Henchard then remembers that Lucetta has told him she has been left a fortune by her late Aunt Templeman and will take on the name of Templeman to escape the scandal associated with her previous name. Lucetta has deliberately made Elizabeth-Jane her companion, hoping that Henchard would come to visit often. On this evening, however, Lucetta does not receive Henchard, who decides to delay his next visit.

Lucetta finds something quiet and restful in Elizabeth-Jane and confides her past to her; she even discloses her Jersey background, even though she had resolved not to do so. When Henchard does not return for days, Lucetta grows a bit concerned. When Elizabeth-Jane tells her that Henchard dislikes her as a daughter, Lucetta realizes that her scheming is not valid. She hastily sends Elizabeth-Jane out of the house and sends Henchard a note summoning him immediately. A visitor comes, but he is not Henchard.

Notes

The identity of the mysterious woman is finally revealed when the reader learns that Miss Templeman is really Lucetta. She has come to Casterbridge with the intention of making Henchard marry her and has made Elizabeth-Jane her companion to make it easier for Henchard to visit. Although Lucetta does not care as passionately as before for him, she still wants to get married and gain respectability.

Since Henchard calls at High-Place several times, it appears that he has an interest in Lucetta. The fact that she is now a lady of means adds to her charm. Moreover, Lucetta's ruse to get Henchard to her house makes the situation more piquant for him. He is warmed by her ardor, but finds that he does not feel any strong emotion for her. Henchard is constantly seen as being unable to keep emotional attachments to people, despite his initial interest in them. He has broken off relationships with both Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane.

The contrast between Elizabeth-Jane and Lucetta is apparent in this chapter. While Elizabeth-Jane is quiet and demur, Lucetta is effervescent. As Hardy comments, "It could be seen that though in years she (Elizabeth-Jane) was younger than her entertainer, in manner and general vision she seemed more of the sage." Elizabeth-Jane's calm, sober manner encourages Lucetta to make indiscreet revelations about her past, reminding the reader of the difference in their morals. While Lucetta is a bit wild, Elizabeth- Jane is very proper and respectable. Both of them, however, want to be respected as ladies in Casterbridge.

It is important to note that Elizabeth-Jane still seems attracted to Farfrae. When the two ladies discuss the various townspeople, Elizabeth-Jane voices a particular interest in him. She is also delighted that High-Place gives her a good vantage point over the center of town so that she can watch for Farfrae.

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