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Michael Henchard - At the end of The Mayor of Casterbridge the ruined Michael Henchard wills that no one remember his name after his death This request is profoundly startling and tragic especially when one considers how very important Henchards name has been to him during his life After committing the abominable deed of selling his wife and child Henchard wakes from a drunken stupor and wonders first and foremost if he told any of the fair-goers his name Eighteen years pass between that scene on the heath of Weydon-Priors and Henchards reunion with Susan in Casterbridge but we come to know the value that Henchard places on a good name and reputation immediately Not only has he climbed from hay-trusser to mayor of a small agricultural town but he labors to protect the esteem that this higher position affords him When Susan and Elizabeth-Jane come upon the mayor hosting a banquet for the towns most prominent citizens they witness a man struggling to convince the masses that despite a mismanaged harvest he is an honest man with a worthy name As he stares out at an unhappy audience made up of grain merchants who have lost money and common citizens who without wheat are going hungry Henchard laments that he cannot undo the past He discusses a metaphor relating grown wheat to the mistakes of the pastneither can be taken back Although Henchard learns this lesson at the end of Chapter IV he fails to internalize it If there is indeed a key to his undoing it is his inability to let go of his past mistakes Guilt acts like a fuel that keeps Henchard moving toward his own demise Unable to forget the events that took place in the furmity-womans tent he sets out to punish himself for them again and again While he might have found happiness by marrying Lucetta for instance Henchard determines to make amends for the past by remarrying
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