The Mayor of Casterbridge


Thomas Hardy

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The Effigies Symbol Icon
The effigies are symbols in several ways within this novel. Most simplistically, the effigies are symbolic within the story and for the characters who construct them and see them. The poor folk of Mixen Lane who learn of Lucetta and Henchard’s secret past wish to harm the wealthy folk by bringing the secret into the open. By constructing the effigies of Lucetta and Henchard, and parading them through the town together, the poor folk are using the effigies to symbolize Lucetta and Henchard’s improper relationship. Lucetta, Henchard, and the other folk who witness the skimmington must understand the symbolism behind the figures in order to understand what is implied about Lucetta and Henchard. In a more complex way, the effigies function as distinct symbols for Lucetta and Henchard. Lucetta panics and faints when she sees the effigies. This reaction eventually leads to her death. The effigies threaten her happiness and the love she shares with her husband. For her, they are symbolic of the dangers of public scandal, words, and knowledge. Lucetta’s death shows that immaterial things, like fear and emotion, are as dangerous as physical weapons like swords and guns. For Lucetta, the effigies symbolize the power of secrets and information. For Henchard, the effigy of himself saves his life at the second bridge. Seeing the effigy appears to Henchard to be a miracle, an intervention in a dark moment. The effigy symbolizes the power of situations and events to change human lives. Without the effigies, Henchard may have had a different fate.

The Effigies Quotes in The Mayor of Casterbridge

The The Mayor of Casterbridge quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Effigies. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Self-Destruction Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of The Mayor of Casterbridge published in 2003.
Chapter 41 Quotes

In the circular current imparted by the central flow the form was brought forward, till it passed under his eyes; and then he perceived with a sense of horror that it was himself. Not a man somewhat resembling him, but one in all respects his counterpart, his actual double, was floating as if dead in Ten Hatches Hole. The sense of the supernatural was strong in this unhappy man, and he turned away as one might have done in the actual presence of an appalling miracle. He covered his eyes and bowed his head. Without looking again into the stream he took his coat and hat, and went slowly away.

Related Characters: Michael Henchard
Related Symbols: The Second Bridge, The Effigies
Page Number: 293
Explanation and Analysis:

“That performance of theirs killed her, but kept me alive!”

Related Characters: Michael Henchard (speaker), Lucetta Templeman
Related Symbols: The Effigies
Page Number: 294
Explanation and Analysis:
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