“An Altar to Disease in Years Gone By”

Alcoholism in The Mayor of Casterbridge
  • Jane Lilienfeld


Michael Henchard, the one-term mayor of Casterbridge, is well aware that he has a problem with alcohol. Early in their relation-ship, he declines his new friend Donald Farfrae’s invitation for a drink because “‘[w]hen I was a young man I went in for that sort of thing too strong—far too strong—and was well-neigh ruined by it … ’” (M 38). He continues, explaining that he abstains from liquor because, while drunk, “I did a deed on account of which I shall be ashamed to my dying day’” (M 38). He is thus aware that had he not been drinking, he would not have sold his wife. Almost two decades later, when he once again meets the woman he had sold, the first thing he tells her is that he does not drink (M 56). Even so, Michael Henchard enacts the effects of his drinking through his struggle to achieve economic power, his denied homoerotic depen-dencies, and his familial relationships. Further, certain emotional as-pects indicative of his troubled relation to alcohol appear as narrative strategies, manifested partly in Henchard’s fatalism, and in the lives of Christopher Coney and Solomon Longways, those work-folk whose lives appear to shadow or double Henchard’s life.


Alcohol Problem External Locus Alcoholic Patient Male Violence Male Alcoholic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Jane Lilienfeld 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane Lilienfeld

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations