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mayor of casterbridge

One of the most striking aspects of The Mayor of Casterbridge, for example, is the role of festival and the characters perceptions of, and reactions The novel opens with Henchard, his wife and baby daughter arriving at Weydon-Priors fair. It is a scene of festive holiday in which the frivolous contingent of visitors snatch a respite from labour after the business of the fair has been concluded. Here Henchard gets drunk and vents his bitterness and frustration at being unemployed on his marriage. Henchard negates the festive and celebratory nature of the fair by his egotism. What the people perceive as a joke permissable under the rules of topsy-turvy, the licence of the temporary release from the world of work, Henchard means seriously and in that act which refuses the spirit of festival he places himself in a position of antagonism to the workfolk, an antagonism which grows with time. From this opening the motif of festival shadows the story and mimes the tragic history of this solitary individual culminating in the ancient custom of the skimmington ride. This motif forms a counterpoint to the dominant theme of work and the novel develops on the basis of a conflict between various images of the isolated, individualistic, egotistical and private forms of economic man (Bakhtins term) and the collectivity of the workfolk. The many images of festivity - the washout of Henchards official celebration of a national event, Farfraes opposition randy, the fete carillonnee which Casterbridge mounts to receive the Royal Personage, the public dinner presided over by Henchard where the town worthies drank and ate searching for titbits, and sniffing and grunting over their plates like sows nuzzling for acorns, the scenes of revelry in the Three Mariners and Peters Finger - culminate in the great jocular plot of the skimmington. This uncanny revel, which like a Daemonic Sabbath was accompanied by the din of cleavers, tongs, tambo...

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