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Thomas Harding does an admirable job narrating the, The Life and Death of The Mayor of Casterbridge, Mr. Henchard, as well as the various other characters that influenced the phases of Mr. Henchard's downfall to prosperity and than again to his self-inflicted destruction. As self-inflicted as King Saul's death in Samuel 1 in the Bible. The narrative of King Saul's life follow comparable steps as Mr. Henchard's. In both narratives both men engage in a trusted consanguinity with another man who were existent for the majority of the protagonists' chronicle. In Thomas Hardy's, The Mayor of Caterbridge, the relationships between Mr. Henchard and Donald Farfrae are overwhelmingly alike as distinct as that to King Saul and David.
In the beginning of the novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Mr. Michael Henchard is described "of fine figure, swarthy, and stern in aspect" and had a "walk of the skilled countryman" and "showed in profile a facial angle[…]to be almost perpendicular." (I,1). Also stated is that Mr. Henchard's "elbow almost touched (his wife's) shoulder" while walking beside each other, implying that he was a very tall man. (I,1) Saul from the Bible is also described as "as a handsome young man" who "stood head and shoulders above the people." (1 Sam 9:2) While both men were accompanied with someone of inferior status, Henchard with his wife and Saul with his servant, they were in search of something, Saul of his asses and Henchard of work, when their lives were altered. Mr. Henchard and Saul both fell asleep in a dining establishment and awoke to find that their lives had changed perpetually. Spouseless and childless Mr. Henchard moves and spends the bulk of his life in Casterbridge. It is later revealed in the story that he the mayor of Casterbridge. Saul is also chosen to be a governmental leader of all of Israel as Mr. Henchard of all of Casterbridge.
In Casterbridge, Mr. Henchard sought for an assistant, and this is where Donald Farfrae is first introduced. Alike in the Bible King Saul seeks a man to "remain in [his] service" (1 Sam 19:22) for, he also needs a partner to help him in some manner. Both new characters are described as musicians, but Mr. Farfrae is just passing though Casterbridge, and has no intentions of staying. At first, Farfrae declines Henchard's invitation to stay and help him run business of Casterbridge, but later agrees to stay because of Henchard's persistence.
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As King Saul's kingdom is threatened by the six and a half foot, uncircumcised Philistine named Goliath, he advises David not to fight the enemy as a caring father would his son, but when David insists "Saul answered David, Go! The LORD will be with you." (17:37) Contrariwise, Henchard after reuniting with his former wife, discloses his affair with another woman to Mr. Farfrae, as would a companion to his best-friend. The relationship between Henchard and Farfrae appear to be more on a same level, unlike King Saul and David, where David endeavors to please Saul. As the novel revels and Henchard tries to punish one of his employees for oversleeping Farfrae challenges Henchard's preference in discipline of humiliation, thereupon, Henchard is first faced with competition. For example in this passage: " …when one of the men inquired of him [Mr. Henchard] […] he said shortly, "Ask Mr. Frafrae. He's master here!"" (XV, 103). Unlike in the Bible, David never challenges King Saul, but continues fighting wars in the name of the LORD and in honor of Saul.
The relationship between Henchard and Frafrae and Saul and David become less affectionate and more rivalry when the central male character hears gossip of how the other is preferred more. To cite an instance the Bible clearly states: " The woman played and sang: "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." Saul was very angry and resentful […] And from that day on, Saul was jealous of David" (18:7-9) The resentfulness between Henchard and Farfrae began just the same. While Henchard conversed with a child of why everyone requested Farfrae when inquiring about the value of haystacks the child, without knowing Mr. Henchard's appearance replies, "I suppose they like him so […] And he's better tempered, and Hechard's a fool to him, they say." (XV 104) Both men in each relationship become more reserved as the stories continue. Although, Henchard's step-daughter marries Farfrae and David marries Saul's daughter their kinship does not mend. Farfrae becomes more popular with the people of Casterbridge and David later becomes a fugitive and seeks refuge far from Saul who in turn wants to murder David. Bloodshed and disaster were common while Saul tried to terminate David's life, which in turn forces David to hide for several years because of David's fear of Saul. Meanwhile, Farfrae is not intimidated by the presence of Henchard. One of the principle reasons why Frafrae does not run as David did is because all of Casterbridge discovers how Henchard sold his wife and infant during a crazy drunkenness. Just as Saul's kingdom unveil Saul's despotic prosecution of David and of many others. King Saul later repents and says to David " I have done wrong. Come back, my son David, I will not harm you again."(26:21) Henchard also has no desire to harm Farfrae and keeps a secret that Frafrae's first wife is the woman Henchard had an affair with, so he does not deepen the hurt between the couple. The respect and admiration between all characters always remain, though each thought they hated the other.
As both major main characters near the final stages of their lives it was very clear to both Mr. Henchard and King Saul that the other was certainly the superior person. Mr. Henchard abandons the place that for many years calls home, Casterbridge. He leaves with no intention of ever returning. Meanwhile, King Saul seeks help and is denied, yet he continues to fight. Unfortunately, both men die miserable deaths. King Saul refused bestow and " took his own sword and fell upon it." (31:4) Henchard on the other hand died a sorrowful and gradual death, by starvation because he learns and repents for the arm he cause to the people who most adored him. At the news of the death of King Saul, David is deeply saddened by his action and "Mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul". (2 Sam1:12) Unlike David, Frafrae learns of Henchard's death simply says "What are we to do?" (XLV 326)
The circumstances between the four characters are as distinct as comparable in both stories. Although, Mr. Henchard and King Saul could have easily saved themselves and others by adopting some of their companions traits, both were destined to end as they did.