The Mayor Of Casterbridge as a Tragedy

Without any grain of doubt or tragedy aims at the catharsis or the purgation of feelings with pity and awe. According to Aristotle a tragedy depicts the fall of a man of high status. This person of high status suffers from some flaw in character and this flaw causes his downfall. Shakespearean tragedies to portray the downfall of the man of high position. These too The tragic hero suffers from a flaw Which brings about the doom and disaster. In modern times, however, the concept of tragedy has undergone a spectacular change and the high status, social or otherwise has lost its relevance. Now a days, a person of ordinary background is given the heroic treatment and Hardy proves a pioneer in this respect. For instance, the most poignant Of Hardy’s novels ‘Tess of the D’urbervilles’ has a diary maid for its Heroin but one wept for the tragic end of Tess as one feels sad over the tragic fate of Kinglear.

To being with The Mayor of Casterbridge unfold Henchard as a labourer struggling hard against the vicious cobweb of life. He is an early married man, with a wife and a daughter, to take care off. Unable to meet their requirements, he behaves a frustrated soul and one day under the spell of strong wine he goes out of his mind and auctions his wife and daughter to the hands of a sailor for merely five guineas. When the intoxication feds out, he wakes up to the reality and realizes his gross mistake. He tries to find out his wife and daughter Susan and Elizabeth-Jane, and at last comes to know that they went away with the sailor. Henchard feels himself guilty and this guilty of consciousness brings in his character a sea change. He gives up wine that separated him from his family and by dint of his zeal to work prospers in business and one day becomes The Mayor Of Casterbridge. Now he commands social status and wide acclaim. But as happiness is the occasional episode in the general drama of pain, his intrinsic weakness, rashness, egoism and self assertive nature bring a new train of tragedies to him. To a great extent his agonise suffering and misfortune remind us of Shakespeare’s tragic heroes. For instance, Henchard’s Going to the weather profit for rainfall and wish to know the fortune lying in store for him reminds us of Macbeth who goes to the witches to know about his fortune.

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The artistic way in which Hardy present the tragic end of Henchard through a simple narrative is also reminiscent of the Greek practices of who are neither all flawless nor all blameless. No doubt, Henchard has all the virtues of a tragic hero but his weakness ingrained in nature causes his ruin. So The Mayor Of Casterbridge is embellished with all the essential ingredients of a tragedy. The last three paragraphs which are full of detailed and philosophical observation, are like the chorus ending of various Greek plays.

To cap it all, The Mayor Of Casterbridge starts a traditional tragedy in line with Oeadipus, Kinglear and Hamlet. Shakespeare’s tragic heroes Suffer, most often because character is destiny. Henchard too Receives the price of his inherent weakness. Other reasons like fate and chance contribute to this weakness. In a word, Hardy’s coming close to Shakespeare portrays the character as themselves responsible for their tragedies and unhappiness they come to meet in life.



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