Discussion Questions: The Mayor of Casterbridge
And we’re back for our penultimate set of questions for LT’s Summer 2010 Classics Challenge! The next two weeks will be devoted to Mr. Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge and discussion will officially open up next Thursday, August 12. But for now, here’s some food for thought. I feel like there is so much to say about everything in this novel, so I hope anyone participating in discussion next week will feel free to riff off and bring in more parts of the story. I just got somewhat Henchard-focused when coming up with questions!
This is a story that, for me, invites thinking about fate vs. free will and a good deal of pondering on comeuppance! How much of what happens to Michael Henchard is fated to tragically play out and how much does he bring upon himself?
Let’s also look at his motives for acting as he does: half the time he is driven by a desire to do good and the other half by a burning desire for comeuppance or revenge. Does these conflicting desires affect the outcome of his actions?
Also, does Henchard deserve all that comes his way? He is an interesting character to me in his very ordinariness: he is no hero, but neither is he a villain. Not to spoil the story for you, but a lot of bad stuff happens to him and, at the end, I’m left unsure if he really deserved it.
Briefly, let’s also look at the supporting cast of characters. None of them seem to fit stock molds, which makes them at times as ambiguous as Henchard!
See you all next week for discussion!