Cole Magee AP Literature Block 2 10/16/2012 The Effects of a Tragic Hero in The Mayor of Casterbridge by: Thomas Hardy Within the novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, Hardy’s main character, Henchard, is displayed as a tragic hero who has started off in a high position but has fallen due to an unacknowledged tragic flaw.
Henchard becomes an instrument for the suffering of the women around him, resulting from his ultimate failure to recognize his rash behavior.
Lucetta moves to Casterbridge only knowing of Henchard being the mayor of Casterbridge, and not his tragic flaw of impulsiveness.
The Mayor of Casterbridge is one of Thomas Hardy's most unified works.
Henchard’s former wife, love affair, and “daughter” are all mutually unable to coexist with the ever-impulsive tragic hero.
At the beginning of Mayor of Casterbridge, Hardy achieves a realistic relationship in which the common man of Hardy’s era is able to make with the lifelike Therefore, Lucetta recognizes Henchard’s hamartia, or his inability to deal with his tragic flaw.One recalls that Lear rashly disowns his true and loving daughter, falls from the heights of regality into suffering and madness, and is briefly reconciled with her before his death.The realization of this structural parallel strengthens our knowledge that the unity of the work is predicated on Henchard's character.After all, his rashness precipitates the events which, once started, move unrelentingly on.The first two chapters of the novel and the very last serve as a frame for the core of the novel's story.Thus our interest in these characters is aroused in direct proportion to the catalytic effect that Henchard's character and behavior have in motivating their actions.Throughout the novel is felt the influence of King Lear, Shakespeare's massive tragedy.In this vein there are also at least four overheard conversations: Lucetta overhears Henchard reading her letters, and she naturally fears that Donald will surmise her past history; Henchard, earlier, hides behind a stack of wheat and listens to Donald and Lucetta's passionate conversation; Donald and Lucetta listen intently to the two parting lovers in the market, thus uniting their spirits in a romantic bond; and finally, Henchard, once again from hiding, overhears Donald addressing Elizabeth-Jane in tender words and knows the meeting has ended with a kiss.If the reader has assumed that these overheard conversations are melodramatic tricks, let him also note that such tricks are more melodramatic if the listener accidentally overhears.Is it not natural for Newson to attempt to reclaim his own child in order to bestow his fortune upon her as his heir?These events are justified, although the modern reader may be disturbed by the machinations behind them.