The Mayor of Casterbridge

Describe henchards meeting with elizabeth jane

chapter 10

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Once again, the two sides of Michael's personality are revealed. At first, he behaves kindly towards Elizabeth-Jane, treating her with tenderness when he learns who she is and who sent her. In addition, he shows great tact in inquiring after Susan's finances, foreshadowing other times when he will care for those in financial need. He even appears to buy Susan back by enclosing the five guineas, showing a great chivalry in the symbolism. From all outward appearances he is a very respectable man, even owning the three books that every respectable household of Hardy's time owned--the Bible, a copy of Josephus (who chronicled Biblical times), and Whole Duty of Man (a book of devotions).

Yet his dark side now begins to manifest itself more openly. He coldly turns Joshua Jopp away, ignoring the promised interview and thus creating a new enemy. Although he is kind to Elizabeth when she is present, later he explodes into a rage, convinced that the women are impostors, and is barely able to calm himself down. Most importantly, his own pride leads him to meet Susan in a secret place--he is too ashamed to meet her openly, lest some villagers learn the truth and mock him. Over time, pride, anger, and tactlessness will continue to bring him down.