Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The question of what an author intended appears in the critical analysis of Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge. Of particular interest is the article by Dr. Robert Schweik entitled "Character and Fate in Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge". In the article, Dr. Schweik reviews the two differing opinions of John Paterson and Frederick Karl concerning the character of Henchard. Paterson proposes that "Henchard is a man guilty of having violated a moral order in the world and thus brings upon himself a retribution for his crime." Karl, on the other hand, says: "Henchard is an essentially good man who is destroyed by the chance forces of a morally indifferent world upon which he has obsessively attempted to impose his will." Now the problem that arises is how can both critics be correct. Upon studying the Wessex text, Schweik theorized that there is in essence two treatments of Henchard. Hardy, it seems, planned the novel as a moral fable which would correspond with Paterson's view, but then Hardy finished it, by chance or plan, with Henchard being ruthlessly punished by blind fate for minor errors which agrees with Karl's contention. Schweik breaks the novel into four stages: chapters 1-31; 31-40; 41-43; and 44-4.5. Each of these segments presents Henchard in a different light.