The first and possible most immoral decision Henchard makes involves his wife Susan. Within the first few chapters of this novel, Michael Henchard, in a drunken state, auctions his wife and child off to a passing sailor for five guineas. This action has an immediate impact on the reader: not only is Henchard selling two human beings, he is selling the entirety of his immediate family. By introducing a character by having him commit such a heinous act, Hardy sets readers up to immediately dislike Henchard and label him as unethical. However, even with this unscrupulous act, Henchard’s subsequent actions help to soften the reader’s view of him. Upon waking the next morning and realizing his actions, Henchard swears an oath to “avoid all strong liquors for the space of twenty-one years” (Hardy) and then embarks on a search that lasts several months. The first part of Henchard’s attempt to right his wrong — the swearing of an oath— shows that Henchard is trying to remove what he sees as the root of his problem which shows a distinct want to change. The second part of Henchard’s atonement — the months long search—displays a type of perseverance that anyone can relate to and admire. [Insert Colcluding Sentense]
The instance of Henchard’s unjust treatment of other regards his step-daughter, Elizabeth Jane. When Susan and Henchard are reunited, Henchard believes that Elizabeth Jane is his biological daughter and does his best to provide all that ...
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...tead their letters get revealed and Lucetta is again ridiculed. Despite Henchard’s best efforts to make things right, his actions continue to fall short. In this way, Henchard has a distinctly human quality about him. Even when he tries his hardest, his continuous mistakes allow the reader to relate to him and sympathize with him on a certain level.
Even with Henchard’s initial introduction as an evil man, looking at his efforts to make things right garner him more sympathy than outright hate. In his dealings with Susan, Elizabeth Jane, and Lucetta Templeman, Henchard is always sincere in his attempts to reverse the wrong he has done. In the end, the reader’s exposure to Henchard’s perseverance and his honest intentions make him more human and thus more relatable. Overall, Henchard’s series of faults categorize him as more of a “man of character” than an immoral one.
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