The Mayor of Casterbridge

The Mayor of Casterbridge: An In-Depth Look at the Insignificance of Human Life College

Cormac McCarthy, the author of No Country for Old Men, said about the purpose of human existence, “The point is there ain’t no point.” This nihilistic outlook on life became common long before McCarthy's time. The highly industrial and scientifically groundbreaking 19th Century marked a dramatic authorial shift from the optimistic, spiritually centered ideas of the Romantics one-century prior. In literature, humanistic, flawed protagonists replaced the traditional heroes of yore, as authors were no longer afraid to question the veracity of God and the purpose of life. One of the earliest works to reflect these new, controversial ideas was Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. Detailing one man’s rise and fall during the late 19th century, the novel became known for Hardy's accurate portrayal of rural life and his unique perspective on how industrialization affected British society during that time. Significantly, Casterbridge is an early manifestation of the nihilist movement because of its innovative, individualistic, anti-heroic, and cynical themes.

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless, and that human beings can never really know or communicate...

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