Mayor of Casterbridge - Menache Literary Styles What Role...

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Menache Literary Styles 2/17/13 What Role Do Women Play? The male gender has always been dominant and society has always accepted it that way. The submissive gender, females, have always agreed with this. Everyone was brought up in that society and nobody had questioned it. In the 1800's, freedom for women was very limited. They were expected to be quiet, humble, and ladylike. Otherwise, they would not be considered normal. Men were thought to complete women. Thomas Hardy’s portrayal of a male dominated society in The Mayor of Casterbridge leaves the main female characters helpless and dependent. This power struggle is clearly shown in The Mayor of Casterbridge . There are three main female characters in this novel. Susan and Lucetta are both the “Ruined Women” in the novel due to their acts and personalities, which lead to their illnesses and finally to their deaths. On the other hand, Elizabeth Jane is a beautiful, young woman who has every desirable characteristic that a man would want. She is a humble girl and, in the end, marries Farfrae, the man she loves. Although these three characters have very different personalities, they are only relevant to the novel through their association with marriage and men. Susan, Michael Henchard's wife, is a humble woman. But near the beginning of the novel, she makes a choice that most women are not supposed to make. When a drunk Henchard attempts to sell her, she ends up not staying by Henchard's side. Infuriated, she goes along with Henchard's plan and decides to live with her new “husband”. “'Mike!,' she said. 'I've lived with thee a couple of years, and had nothing but temper! Now I'm no more to 'ee; I'll try my luck elsewhere. 'Twill be better for me and Elizabeth-Jane, both. So, good-bye!'” (11). In this
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dramatic scene, it is clearly shown that Susan is treated as less than a person.
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