in novel mayor of casterbridge
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During his apprenticeship, Hardy developed a greater respect for the simplicities of country life and its traditional institutions and architecture. This appreciation is obvious in the careful descriptions of architectural structures in The Mayor of Casterbridge. Mentions of various prominent buildings and ancient Roman foundations and architects such as Maumbury Rings and the Fairfield, which has been home to Dorchester’s famous historic open, are found in the novel.
The nineteenth century Britain experienced a population explosion. The problem of this population explosion, serious in itself, was aggravated by the collection of these masses of people in the new urban centers resulting from introducing of the factory system during the Industrial revolution. When Farfrae arrives, he brings with him new and efficient systems for managing the town’s grain markets and increasing agricultural production. Thus Casterbridge is clearly a Wessex town, caught in the past and just awakening to nineteenth-century social change. And Michael Henchard is certainly a Wessex character, attempting to deal with his fate. In this way, Henchard and Farfrae come to represent tradition and innovation, respectively. As such, their struggle can be seen not merely as a competition between a grain merchant and his former protégé but rather as the tension between the desire for and the reluctance to change as one age replaces another. Nevertheless, Hardy reports the passing from one era to the next with a quiet kind of nostalgia. Throughout the novel are traces of a world that once was and will never be again.