The Mayor of Casterbridge

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The Mayor of Casterbridge Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Henchard opens the door of his office to admit Elizabeth-Jane, a newcomer enters and steps forward before Elizabeth-Jane. This newcomer introduces himself as Joshua Jopp, the man Henchard was supposed to interview that day for the position of his business manager. Henchard tells Jopp that he has hired another man, despite having agreed to hire him subject to an interview. As Jopp leaves, Elizabeth-Jane reads the bitterness in his face expression.
Henchard’s engagement of Farfrae as his manager, despite his promise to Jopp, reveals his fundamentally selfish nature. He wanted the best manager, and was willing to go against his previous promises to achieve this. Jopp’s disappointment and bitterness foreshadows and propels his need for revenge on Farfrae.
Themes
Self-Destruction Theme Icon
Loyalty to Duty and Commitments Theme Icon
Character Theme Icon
Elizabeth-Jane asks Henchard if she may speak with him on a personal matter. She informs him that his relative Susan Newson is in town and wishes to see him. Elizabeth-Jane introduces herself as Elizabeth-Jane Newson, which suggests to Henchard the truth of the situation: Elizabeth-Jane does not know Henchard’s connection to her. Henchard invites her into his house and learns the circumstances of his wife and daughter’s seeming disappearance, as they had been living for a few years in Canada. Henchard discerns that, with Newson’s death, the pair has not been left well off. He writes a note to Susan and includes a five-pound note and five shillings.
Elizabeth-Jane introducing herself as “Elizabeth-Jane Newson” is interpreted by Henchard as an indication of Susan’s desire to hide the past from their daughter, rather than an indication of the truth of Elizabeth-Jane’s parentage, as it is revealed later in the novel. Henchard does not suspect that Susan may be keeping a secret from him. He feels obligated to reconnect with Susan because of her poor situation, and, primarily, for his daughter’s sake.
Themes
Familial and Romantic Love Theme Icon
Loyalty to Duty and Commitments Theme Icon
The Past and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Elizabeth-Jane returns with the note and money to The King of Prussia. Susan is moved at the sight of the note and asks Elizabeth-Jane to recount her experience of meeting Henchard. The note asks Susan to meet Henchard at eight o’clock that evening at The Ring outside of town. The enclosure of five guineas with the note is a significant sum, indicating Henchard’s act of buying his wife back again for the same sum.
The five guineas enclosed with Henchard’s note are a symbol for both the characters within the novel and the reader. Henchard intends the money to be a symbolic representation of the reversal of his transaction with Newson. Henchard uses discretion in communicating with Susan and meeting with her privately—he wants to make up for his past shameful action, but quietly, without ever revealing the shame.
Themes
Familial and Romantic Love Theme Icon
Loyalty to Duty and Commitments Theme Icon
The Past and Forgiveness Theme Icon