The Mayor of Casterbridge


Thomas Hardy

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Mayor of Casterbridge can help.

The Mayor of Casterbridge: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

New people have joined the group observing in the street and among them is a young man who is distinct from the others by his pleasant air and his carpetbag, which marks him as a traveler. He overhears Henchard’s final words about restoring wheat and stops to write a note, which he gives to one of the waiters at the door of the hotel with instructions to give the note to the mayor at once.
The traveler contacts Henchard via a note. He is unable, because of his lower class position and his newness in town, to address himself to the mayor directly. He is described as having a pleasant air, and kindness and joviality continues to define his character.
Character Theme Icon
Elizabeth-Jane overhears this interaction and is intrigued by the young man and his Scottish accent, as well as the exchange. The young man asks the waiter to recommend a more moderately priced hotel, and he is directed to The King of Prussia. The young man leaves for the hotel and Elizabeth-Jane sees his note brought to Henchard at the table. Henchard is visibly affected by the note and stays quiet, thinking, as the other men give toasts. Elizabeth-Jane asks her mother what she would like to do, as it is late in the evening. Elizabeth-Jane recommends that they head to The King of Prussia, like the young man who she judged to be respectable.
Elizabeth-Jane observes the young man, the note he sends, and Henchard’s reaction with precise detail. Elizabeth-Jane is intelligent and perceptive. She also, in many ways, is more mother than child to Susan. She practically suggests going to The King of Prussia hotel, taking charge of their situation because her mother is overcome by Henchard’s presence and position.
Familial and Romantic Love Theme Icon
Character Theme Icon
Just after Susan and Elizabeth-Jane leave the crowd outside, Henchard leaves the table and asks the waiter about the young man who sent the note. Seeing that the toasts in the dining room are proceeding merrily without him, Henchard sets off toward The King of Prussia. Henchard buttons his overcoat over his nice shirt and attempts to tone down his appearance of wealth to his everyday appearance before he enters The King of Prussia inn, which is joined by a dimly lit passageway to the horse stalls at the back.
The note is enough to cause Henchard to seek out the young man who wrote it. He adjusts his appearance before going to The King of Prussia. Wealth is often indicated visually through the quality of the objects one owns. Casterbridge society assesses characters on their possession and treatment of property: clothes, fashionable items, houses, and furniture.
Character Theme Icon