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
to, the festive. 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
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