The Mayor of Casterbridge

The Irony of Elizabeth-Jane and Henchard 11th Grade

In Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, Susan Henchard’s innate dependence on men displays itself in multiple ways and instances. However, the most notable is when Susan reunites with Michael Henchard in Casterbridge after 18 years of separation. Instead of telling him the truth about the untimely death of their infant child, Elizabeth-Jane Henchard, who is introduced in the opening scenes of the novel, allows him to assume that his daughter and Elizabeth-Jane Newson, the daughter of Susan and the sailor, are the same person. Susan allows this assumption to carry on until her death, effectively deceiving Henchard in exchange for protection and funds for her daughter. Although Susan puts the needs of herself and her daughter before the truth, Elizabeth-Jane’s presence benefits Henchard as she is a strong support towards the end of his life. Susan’s deception, fueled by the need for a male figure for herself and her daughter, is ironic because even though Susan tricks Henchard in order to gain a support system, Henchard ends up being dependent on the strong-willed Elizabeth-Jane.

Susan’s need for male support is displayed by her desire to stay faithful to the men in her life despite the misery associated with her situation....

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