brief context for Mayor of Casterbridge

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  • context for mayor of Casterbridge
    • treatment of women
      • victorian era- physically weaker but morally superior
      • women- home, men-workplace
        • husbands and wives could therefore pass an entire day without meeting
      • educational advances
        • latter end of the century- elite unis (ox/camb) began to admit women
        • had to have 'self-improving accomplishments' but shouldn't 'bluestock' - be overly intellectual
    • literary movements
      • realism
        • realism evident through portrayal of Micheal Henchard and Lucetta Templeman
          • Multi-sided characters whose traits and actions reveal numerous conflicts
          • real people with both virtues and flaws
        • detailed description of local places in and around Casterbridge
      • modernism
        • novelists/ poets/ composers/ artists broke from traditional styles and forms
        • experimental, reflected new social behavioural theories
          • e.g. Karl Marx (German philosopher) and Sigmund Freud (Austrian neurologist)
        • unconventional stance towards marriage + pessimism regarding human destiny and behaviour
          • 'general drama of pain'
    • set in the reigon of Wessex, fictionalised landscape closely resembling his native county of Dorset
      • could make language appealing through traditional dialect
      • could critique social prejudice without offending real-life culprits
      • could appeal to familiar characters/ landscapes while making them seem slightly unfamiliar/ alluring
    • Thomas Hardy
      • born in 1840, in Dorset, rural region of SW England
      • apprenticed at 16 to an architect in the city of Dorchester
        • location served as a model for the fictional Casterbridge
      • declining religious faith and lack of money inspired him to pursue a career in writing
      • wrote by serialisation (would publish in periodic instalments)
        • to keep readers hooked, questions were left unanswered at the end of each instalment
          • explains convoluted, incredible plots of many 19th century Victorian novels


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