Sunday, August 18, 2019

Essay on Fate and Chance in The Mayor of Casterbridge -- Mayor of Cast

Fate and Chance in The Mayor of Casterbridge  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚      Thomas Hardy's disillusionment over religion was a major theme in both his novels and his poetry. In his mind there was a conflict over whether fate or chance ruled us. He explores this dilemma in the poems "I Look Into My Glass" and "Going and Staying." Each poem takes a different stance on the matter. It is up to the novel The Mayor of Casterbridge to illuminate which position he ultimately adopts. The poem "I Look Into My Glass" is similar to "Going and Staying" in many ways. Both poems deal with the effects of time. "I Look Into My Glass" is narrated by a person (I picture a man, although it could really be either) who is very old and looking at his wasted frame in a mirror. The narrator is grieving, not because he is old, but because his heart is still strong and full of feelings. He wishes that his heart had withered like his skin so that he wouln't have to feel the loss of all his loved ones, the "hearts grown cold to me" he mentions in the poem (ILIMG, line 6). The narrator blames a personification of time for this, saying "Time, to make me grieve,/Part steals, part lets abide" (ILIMG, lines 9, 10). Strength and vitality have been stolen from him while his heart has remained youthful. Emphasis in this poem is on the emotional rather than on the physical because the narrator values his emotions over his physical state. This does not mean that the narrator is indifferent to his condition. Just as much as he wishes his heart could be as frail as his frame, so does he also wish that his frame were a match for his heart. When he says time "shakes this fragile frame at eve/ With the throbbings of noontide" he means that his heart is still throbbing with the desir... ...ur own fate. Henchard dies friendless and alone not because it was part of God's plan, but because he cannot see that he operates under his own free will. Hardy's loss of faith in his own life is apparent in all of his writing, especially in the poems "I Look Into My Glass" and "Going and Staying" and the novel The Mayor of Casterbridge. Here he explores his ideas about chance and fate and ultimately comes up with the conviction that each man controls himself. It can be surmised that this was a frightening thought for Hardy since much of his work deals with his disillusionment over religion. Whether Hardy wanted to enlighten the multitudes with his writing, or if he just wanted them to see his suffering and pity him is a question only he can answer. Works Cited: Hardy, Thomas. The Mayor of Casterbridge. Ed. Phillip Mallett. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001.

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