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Free Study Guide for The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy-MonkeyNotes
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

CHAPTER 23

Summary

Farfrae has come to see Elizabeth-Jane at High-Palace Hall and renew his courtship with her, due to a number of factors. First, he has received permission from Henchard to see her, and secondly, he has just concluded a business transaction that gives him enough money to marry and support a wife. Finally, he hopes that renewing the relationship with Elizabeth-Jane will narrow the gulf between him and Henchard. When he finds Lucetta instead of Elizabeth-Jane in the house, he is attracted to her; Lucetta reciprocates by flirting with him. By the time he leaves, Farfrae has forgotten he had come to see Elizabeth-Jane. When Henchard arrives a little later in response to Lucetta's note, she sends him away, for she is no longer interested in him. She now feels Elizabeth-Jane will come in handy to keep her father away.

Notes

In this chapter, the reader finds Fate playing a cruel trick on both Elizabeth-Jane and Henchard. Had Elizabeth-Jane been in the house when Farfrae visited, it is quite possible he would have proposed to her, and Lucetta might have been quite willing to accept Henchard as her husband; instead, a new development occurs, for Farfrae and Lucetta are attracted to each other, leaving Elizabeth-Jane and Henchard in the cold.


Farfrae is further developed in this chapter. He reveals more of himself to Lucetta than he has done to any other person. His business acumen is explained when he tells how he shrewdly bought wheat when prices were low and sold when they rose. Lucetta notices two sides to Farfrae's life -- the commercial and the romantic. The romantic is apparent when he talks about Scotland and when he hires a young man and his old father so that the former would not be separated from the girl he loves. It is also apparent in his attraction to Lucetta; Farfrae is so taken by her that this organized gentleman forgets an appointment that he has with a farmer.

It should be noted that Lucetta does not intentionally set out to ensnare Farfrae, but she does nothing to discourage him, even though she knows he has come to call on Elizabeth-Jane. She is drawn towards his youth and good looks and outwardly flirts with him during his visit. Like Farfrae, Lucetta is romantic at heart.

When Henchard arrives at High-Place Hall, he is snubbed. By sending him away, Lucetta communicates that she no longer wants to see him. In fact, she schemes to keep him away by using Elizabeth-Jane as a "watchdog".

The location of High Place Hall is significant. It is in the center of town, and both Elizabeth-Jane and Lucetta can observe the movements of the townsfolk from the windows. Lucetta's central location foreshadows the fact that she will be a central character in the rest of the novel.

CHAPTER 24

Summary

Both Elizabeth-Jane and Lucetta now wait eagerly for each Saturday, market day, to catch a glimpse of Farfrae from the window. One Saturday a new agricultural implement, a drill, is introduced in Casterbridge, and Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane go to see the machine. While examining the drill, Henchard approaches them, and Elizabeth-Jane introduces him to Lucetta. In a negative Mood, he condemns the machine. Then as he departs, he whispers an admonition to Lucetta, "You refused to see me". Elizabeth-Jane overhears this and is quite puzzled.

The ladies meet Farfrae examining the drill. He has been responsible for its introduction and lists its virtues, claiming it will revolutionize farming. Elizabeth-Jane notices that Lucetta and Farfrae are intimate with each other. Later, Lucetta admits she has spoken to Farfrae before, and Elizabeth-Jane realizes there is something deeper between the two of them.

One day Lucetta unfolds part of her past history to Elizabeth-Jane, for she wants some advice from her. She narrates the incident as though it has happened to someone else and asks Elizabeth-Jane what this person should do under the circumstances. Elizabeth- Jane refuses to answer the questions, as she knows that the 'she' of the story is Lucetta herself.

Notes

The window onto the town is again a vantagepoint for both Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane. It affords both of them the ability to observe Farfrae. However, in the early part of the chapter, Elizabeth-Jane is unaware that Farfrae had visited during her absence and is now attracted to Lucetta. When the new drill is to be introduced, both ladies instinctively know it is due to Farfrae and go to see it.

The drill reveals another difference between Henchard and Farfrae. Henchard is not comfortable with science, technology, and innovation, and condemns the new implement; he is only comfortable with the old order of life. In contrast, Farfrae, who is responsible for the introduction of the drill, is completely comfortable with new technology. This difference between the two men reminds the reader of Henchard's description of Farfrae in chapter 6; he called Farfrae a man of science.

Elizabeth-Jane is shocked to observe the familiarity with which Lucetta and Farfrae treat each other. She realizes that something is going on between them. She also sees through Lucetta's story, which she coyly presents as someone else's; she knows that Lucetta is talking about herself. As a result, Elizabeth-Jane remains silent, refusing to answer Lucetta's questions. The reader feels sorrow for Elizabeth-Jane and wishes Fate would not play such cruel tricks on her.

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