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Points to Ponder

The novel is undoubtedly a comprehensive character study, and many critics even liken the novel to Shakespeare's Macbeth, due to the tragic nature of Henchard's demise. In what ways are the two tales similar? Does Hardy try to minimize or make light of Henchard's failures by paralleling them so closely to Farfrae's successes? Think back to the complete title of the novel: "The Life and Death of the Mayor of Casterbridge, A Story of a Man of Character." Also consider the "characters" of many of the other minor characters (Abel Whittle, Joshua Jopp, Mrs. Cuxsom). Does Hardy make an effective critique of mankind's diversified personalities?

Note how Hardy makes use of the setting of Casterbridge in the story. The action does not revolve from place to place, but instead, everything is centered on the town with characters leaving or entering Casterbridge as they are mentioned in the tale. How important is setting in the novel? Consider how many of the locations mentioned in the story are characterized by their visitors (the Ring, Mixen-Lane, the two bridges).

There are several means of communication that play important roles in the novel. What were some of these methods and how do they affect the plot? (Examples: Lucetta's letters to Henchard, Susan's messages to Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae about Durnover Hill, Susan's letter to Henchard about Elizabeth-Jane's real father, Lucetta overhearing Henchard read Farfrae her letters, Henchard's will, Jopp as messenger) How does Hardy balance all these methods of revealing information to the reader? Is he successful?

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1 and 2
Chapters 3 and 4
Chapters 5 and 6
Chapters 7 and 8
Chapters 9 and 10
Chapters 11, 12, and 13
Chapters 14 and 15
Chapter 16
Chapters 17 and 18
Chapters 19 and 20
Chapters 21 and 22
Chapters 23 and 24
Chapters 25 and 26
Chapter 27
Chapters 28 and 29
Chapters 30 and 31
Chapters 32 and 33
Chapter 34
Chapters 35 and 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapters 40 and 41
Chapters 42 and 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45


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