HAPPINESS WAS BUT THE OCCASIONAL EPISODE IN A GENERAL DRAMA OF PAIN MICHAEL HENCHARD AS A TRAGIC HERO

Length: 3 Pages 670 Words

In Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Michael Henchard represents an incarnation of the Classical ‘tragic hero.’ In Greek literature, a tragic hero is a well-known and respected individual whose tragedy usually involves some kind of fall from glory. His downfall has been precipitated by his own flaw of character or judgment, some mistake or series of mistakes that has serious consequences. A key element is that the hero's experiences don't simply end with the mistake or catastrophe; true tragic heroes must come to discover or recognize what has happened to them and ultimately pay their ramifications. Surely such a description fits the hubristic Michael Henchard and maps out the tale of events set forth in The Mayor Of Casterbridge. The definition of a tragic hero includes his fall from glory, which in early 20th century literature would be social-class related. Henchard’s rapid decline from Mayor to pauper qualifies as such a fall. It is even more of a tragedy si Continue...


Though modern usage of the word 'hero' indicates a nobler persona, at its roots a hero is simply the main character of any story, and not necessarily a knight in shining armor. This grimly pessimistic view of man's nature qualifies Michael Henchard as a Classical Tragic Hero; his own inner faults ultimately bring him down from his high post. A tragic hero's sad story comes from his own flaws, and Michael Henchard was certainly not lacking in faults and poor judgments. His affliction begins almost immediately as his mistake is realized; he vows to abstain from alcohol for twenty-one years ("'. The theme and spirit of tragedy found a new vehicle in the novel in the 19th century, its form being originally used only in plays. (Page 261) His ragged appearance at a royal procession shows just how deep he had fallen into depression and oblivion. nce there was so much embarrassment and scandal surrounding his deterioration from a pillar of the town of Casterbridge. He is also a very proud man, which turns into simple stubbornness. "Everybody else, from the Mayor to the washerwoman, shone in new vesture according to means; but Henchard had doggedly retained the fretted and weather-beaten garments of bygone years. ' Page 25) But, as the reader begins to realize, Henchard has only gone through the motions of repentance, and as soon as he is faced with adversity, his rougher qualities still surface.