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Mayor Of Casterbridge By Hardy Analysis Essay

, Research Paper

Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge does an excellent job of displaying

Casterbridge’s realistic Western England setting through the architectural

buildings, the behavior of the townspeople, and the speech used throughout the

novel. All of these aspects combined provide a particular environment Hardy

called "Wessex" which infuses the work with reality and a life. The

love which Hardy had, for architecture, is displayed throughout this novel with

the descriptions of the surrounding countryside, the buildings, the commerce,

the roads, and the amusements that make up the environment of Casterbridge. The

town of Casterbridge in Wessex, an ancient name for the West Saxon kingdom of

the Middle Ages, is no longer used geographically. It comprises of Doreshire and

parts of other western England countries. The country and the town meet at a

mathematical line. The town is shut in by a square wall of trees, like a plot of

garden grounded by a box-edging. When overlooking Casterbridge, there are

towers, gables, chimneys, and casements standing tall and strong to show the

development of the buildings. The chief hotel in Casterbridge-namely, the Kings

Arms, is a spacious bow-window projected into the street over the main portico.

The homes of Casterbridge consist of timber homes with overhanging stories,

whose small-paned lattices were screened by dimity curtains on a drawing-string.

There were other houses of brick-nogging, which derived their chief support from

those adjoining. The roofs consisted of slate patched with tiles, and

occasionally there was a roof of thatch. Detail to buildings of Casterbridge

gives readers a visual insight to the composition to the social classes of the

town. Leading onto the townspeople who keep Casterbridge alive and productive.

Social classes of the townspeople determine each individuals behavior and how

others treat each individual based on social class or status. The characters may

seem odd to some audiences, yet these characters are at all times real. They are

based on people Hardy had grown up with, people whose tragic histories had

unearthed during his early architectural apprenticeship, people he had heard

about in legends and ballads. The agricultural and pastoral character of the

people upon whom the town depended for its existence was shown by the class of

objects displayed in the shop windows. The lower-class was classified as

mischievous knaves by Hardy for he personally, along with others of status, was

not very fond of them. There is one obvious example in the story which displays

the greed and importance of show, of the upper class. In Casterbridge’s best

hotel when the Mayor was having a big dinner party, the blinds were left

unclosed so the whole interior of this room could be surveyed from the top of a

flight of stone steps to the road-wagon office opposite, for which reason a knot

of idlers had gathered there to watch what they couldn’t have. The higher

classes took what lavishing capabilities they had and frolicked in them for all

below to envy and want. Although the behavior and mannerism of the townspeople

is blunt, it is realistic and influenced by real life situations through the

mind of the author. A less obvious yet realistic part of the setting which can

normally be over-looked but is emphasized throughout this novel is the speech,

or dialect of the characters and townspeople. Social class is very obviously

shown through the speech of every individual. Higher class residents of

Casterbridge often spoke much more vulgar terms. They have their own folk

dialect which modernly is referred to as slang throughout regions influential on

the environment of the speaker. Speech is also an issue with age and maturity

which is excellently presented throughout the entire course of the novel in

Elizabeth-Jane. Hardy shows the gradual change that takes place in her speech

through the years. In the first portion of the novel when Elizabeth-Jane is

young, she has a sense of playfulness and good times. But as she grows older and

her sorrow increases. Elizabeth-Jane turns more to study and reflection. Towards

the end of the novel, Elizabeth-Jane is a full grown woman who has her life

established and knows where she stands in social status. She is melancholy and

kind. A matronly woman whose speech seems highly studied and affected. Hardy

does an excellent job of taking the little things society tends to overlook and

accenting them to show how realistic each individual is in the town of

Casterbridge. The townspeople, the buildings, and the speech of every individual

throughout the novel.