The Mayor of Casterbridge
The Mayor of Casterbridge, one of Thomas Hardy’s most powerful novels, opens with a scene of shocking heartlessness. In a fit of drunken rage, Michael Henchard, an out-of-work laborer, sells his wife and baby daughter to a passing sailor. When the horror of what he has done dawns on him the next day, he determines to set his life on a different path, and through years of hard work and ambition rises to become the rich and respectable mayor of his town. Secret guilt continues to haunt this proud and brooding man, however, and when his wife and grown daughter return to Casterbridge, Henchard is set on the path to a dramatic confrontation with his own deeply flawed nature. Hardy’s keen insight into the course of wayward lives and his instinctive feel for the beauty of the rural landscape come together in this unforgettable portrait of a tragic hero.