The Caged Bird Theory Of Evolution English Literature Essay

A A A A A A A A A A A The theory of development by natural choice has confounded both scientists and the general populace likewise since its debut in 1859, and still continues to trip argument to this twenty-four hours. Proposed by naturalist Charles Darwin in his On the Origin of Species, it was an highly extremist thought that clashed with the societal and political criterions of the clip. Darwin asserted that the diverseness in carnal species was a consequence, in kernel, of “ the endurance of the fittest ” . He believed nature selected the best altered assortments of animate beings to last and reproduce. While many people thought Darwin ‘s proposal was absurd, there were some who accepted his theory. One of those few was the British writer, Thomas Hardy, who pored over Darwin ‘s findings while he lived in London.

A A A A A A A A A A A Darwin ‘s theory of development had a profound influence on Hardy, who partly incorporated Darwin ‘s thoughts in his 1886 novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge. In it, Hardy embraces the construct through the life of the supporter, Michael Henchard. Although Hardy subtitled the novel The Life and Death of a Man of Character to propose Henchard ‘s unthreatening nature, Henchard is besides revealed to possess dark qualities. In the beginning of the novel, we see a bibulous Henchard who makes a foolish determination to sell his married woman and girl. His faulty judgement instigates a series of tragic events, finally taking to his death at the terminal of the novel. To exemplify the interior workings of Henchard ‘s head and the effects of his actions, Hardy skilfully weaves in a bird symbol, taking the signifier of lame birds and caged birds, to stand for Henchard ‘s development from get downing to stop. While the bird in the novel delineates Henchard ‘s development from a disgruntled farm worker trapped in an unwanted matrimony, to a lonely, heartsick adult male, it besides implies that optimism is an intrinsic trait of human nature despite the obstructions we face.

In the beginning, Henchard is a naA?ve and imprudent adult male, illustrated by the comparing with a weak bird and a sup, who has small concern for his household. The fresh Begins with Henchard as a immature adult male of 21 with a married woman and kid. They walk softly along a dust-covered route: “ For a long clip, there was [ no sound ] , beyond the voice of a weak bird singing a banal old eventide vocal ” ( Hardy 3 ) . Here, Henchard is “ weak ” as he is easy deteriorating-he leads a weary life and is stuck in the throes of desperation. It seems that he would wish to back up his household by procuring a occupation as a hay-trusser, but on the other manus, he does non look motivated. Like a “ weak bird ” , Henchard can non sing decently ; that is, he has small attempt to make what is his responsibility to his household and has small hope of being satisfied with his life. Possibly the mentioning of the “ banal old eventide vocal ” is an indicant of Henchard ‘s discontent with his “ old ” household. Despite the silence, there is a stale acquaintance between Henchard and Susan. Although they do non express a word to each other, it seems that they are highly comfy with each other, as if they are old psyches. As they continue to walk, they come upon a just and halt at a collapsible shelter for a drink of furmity. Henchard becomes intoxicated about instantly, and in the minute, puts Susan and his girl up for sale. As the people in the collapsible shelter listen to Henchard ‘s absurd offer, “ a sup, one among the last of the season, which had by opportunity found its manner through an gap into the upper portion of the collapsible shelter, flew to and fro in speedy curves above their caputs, doing all eyes to follow it abstractedly ” ( Hardy 7 ) . Once once more, Henchard is compared to a bird, more specifically, a sup. As the swallow causes everyone in the collapsible shelter to watch it wing about, Henchard likewise captures the attending of those in the collapsible shelter when he makes the foolish determination to sell his household. When he becomes intoxicated “ by opportunity ” , his hibernating ideas about his household are revealed ; his personality alterations dramatically as his overbearing and forceful nature come into position. Henchard is the sup trapped in the collapsible shelter, because he is trapped in his ain ideas. He is ambivalent as he must make up one’s mind between his household and freedom. In add-on, the sup is described as being “ one among the last of the season ” , which refers to Henchard ‘s last error, that is, the last portion of his former life. By selling Susan and his girl to a passerby crewman, Henchard crosses the line and is forced to get down a new life, finally taking to his ruin. He loses the lone people in his life and is left seeking a new life entirely. Henchard ‘s pessimistic nature is mirrored in Hardy ‘s ain life. Born in 1840, Hardy lived during the Victorian epoch, a disruptive period of societal and spiritual turbulence. At the clip, life was rough for Hardy who saw spiritual figures being portrayed as human non Godhead, a divergence in natural scientific discipline through Darwin ‘s extremist thoughts, and a general displacement towards a practical universe. His upbringing was put to the trial, and he became disillusioned with his Christian background and life itself. There seemed to be a new order as traditional values were being tossed to the side. Hardy lived through all of this, and transformed into a acrimonious adult male, disappointed with the alterations he saw around him. This interior bitterness is displayed in Henchard ‘s yearning to free himself of his household. Henchard is able to interrupt away, but merely to be led in the incorrect way.

After Henchard learns of his atrocious actions, the bird, or hope, in him resurfaces and he rises to the tallness of his illustriousness. Although he regrets his determination, Henchard manages to travel on and wanders aimlessly, looking for work. He comes across the little-known town of Casterbridge and begins his life anew: “ To birds of the more soaring sort Casterbridge must hold appeared on this all right eventide as a mosaic-work of hushed reds, browns, Greies, and crystals, held together by a rectangular frame of deep viridity ” ( Hardy 25 ) . Like a surging bird, Henchard heads for Casterbridge and resides at that place for most of the balance of his life. The colourss of the landscape, as seen from a bird ‘s point of position, foreshadow the events of his life. The deep green boundary line is representative of Henchard ‘s eventual wealth and power. Imparting his sorrow and compunction, he is able to lift from a humble farm worker to a outstanding adult male who owns his ain agriculture concern. The green colour is besides symbolic of the enviousness that Henchard will experience when the Scotsman Donald Farfrae takes over everything that is Henchard ‘s. Inside the boundary lines of the town, there are a assortment of colourss. Red signifies Henchard ‘s internal war with himself and the conflict with Farfrae. It besides embodies his fatherlike love for his stepdaughter, Elizabeth-Jane, and his demand for the love of others. The crude brown and Grey are marks of Henchard ‘s desire for stableness when his life unravels near the terminal of the novel. All of these predicting marks come true after Henchard enters Casterbridge and reconstruct his life. When Susan and Elizabeth-Jane hunt for Henchard at a town meeting after old ages apart, Elizabeth-Jane learns of Henchard ‘s position in the little town from Solomon Longways, who tells her, “ ‘Why, my good amah, he ‘s the powerfullest member of the Town Council, and rather a chief adult male in the state besides aˆ¦ He worked his manner up from nil when ‘a came here ; and now he ‘s a pillar of the town ” ( Hardy 33 ) . She learns that Henchard is city manager of the town and owns a successful agriculture concern. Clearly, he has denounced his old ways by giving up intoxicant and concentrating on his societal life. If Henchard were to be compared to a bird, he would be considered an bird of Jove. He is strong and powerful, act uponing the town through his place as city manager, and is free to make as he pleases. As a “ soaring bird ” , Henchard ‘s optimism allows him to make a new life filled with success.

When Susan reenters his life, Henchard is doomed because his past actions tempt his destiny and one time once more, he becomes a delicate bird. By the terminal of the novel, Henchard is entirely because he broke Elizabeth-Jane ‘s trust when he created a fiction of her decease to lead on Newson, her existent male parent. Although Henchard meant good, he finally hurt his relationship with Elizabeth-Jane. Despite his sorrow for stating the prevarication, Henchard still wants to mend their broken relationship: “ To do one more effort to be near her: to travel back ; to see her, to plead his cause before her, to inquire for forgiveness for his fraud, to endeavor strenuously to keep his ain in her love ; it was deserving the hazard rebuff, ay, of life itself ” ( Hardy 314 ) . Believing that no 1 wants him in Casterbridge, Henchard leaves the town with nil to look frontward to and no sense of way. He becomes so forlorn that he seeks Elizabeth-Jane ‘s love after bewraying her. Although she is non his blood girl as he one time thought, he still considers her as his girl. His longing for her seems to be an act of despair ; he wants to “ plead ” and “ inquire forgiveness ” in order to “ keep his ain in her love ” . Although he is a delicate bird, Henchard is still hopeful that he can recover her trust. Henchard feels that his relationship with Elizabeth-Jane is the lone 1 that he can salve, and now that his life is in shambles, he is willing to alter himself for her. For Henchard, mending his bond with his stepdaughter is “ worth the hazard rebuff, ay, of life itself ” , intending that it is the lone thing he lives for now. He attempts this by returning to Casterbridge for Elizabeth-Jane ‘s matrimony to Farfrae. Henchard buys her a present for her twenty-four hours of marriage: “ At length a caged yellowbird met his oculus. The coop was a field and little one aˆ¦ A sheet of newspaper was tied round the small animal ‘s wire prison ” ( Hardy 315 ) . The purchase of the yellowbird demonstrates that Henchard is willing to make whatever it takes to do Elizabeth-Jane trust him one time more. He is willing to pass his hard-earned money on a freshness gift. The plainness of the coop is symbolic of the blunt nudity of Henchard ‘s thoughts-his actions toward Elizabeth-Jane are his true feelings for her. His devotedness to her confirms that he is non shaming those emotions.

When Henchard is rejected by the adult female who matters most in his life, he takes a downswing and becomes trapped in the life of a caged bird that leads to his decease. Several hebdomads after Henchard leaves Elizabeth-Jane ‘s nuptials, she finds something that Henchard left behind: “ Mrs. Donald Farfrae had discovered in a screened corner a new bird-cage, shrouded in newspaper, and at the underside of the coop a small ball of feathers-the dead organic structure of a yellowbird. Cipher could state how the bird and coop had come at that place ; though that the hapless small songwriter had been starved to decease was apparent ” ( Hardy 321 ) . The dead yellowbird that Elizabeth-Jane finds is symbolic non merely of Henchard himself and his awful feelings, but besides his love for his stepdaughter. Similar to the finch, Henchard ‘s hope in resuscitating his relationship with Elizabeth-Jane is dead. When she sends him off, stating that she can non swear him any longer, Henchard takes her words to bosom, vowing ne’er to come back and bother Elizabeth-Jane. His consideration for her life and ideas shows a singular transmutation on Henchard ‘s portion ; he is able to take into history the feelings of others. The yellowbird is besides a direct mention to Henchard. When the people of Casterbridge detect a portion of Henchard ‘s yesteryear that he kept secret for two decennaries, Henchard withers off under the oculus of public examination. This is similar to the finch in the coop “ shrouded in newspaper ” , where the newspaper is symbolic of the unfavorable judgment of the townsfolk. Quickly after happening the bird, Elizabeth-Jane realizes how much Henchard loved her and she goes to happen Henchard ; she is now on the accommodative terminal. She and Farfrae find Abel Whittle along the manner, who recounts, “ ‘But he did n’t derive strength, for you see, ma’am, he could n’t eat-no, no appetency at all-and he got weaker ; and to-day he died ‘ ” ( Hardy 325 ) . Harmonizing to Whittle, Henchard literally starved to decease because he had “ no appetency ” . In a really existent sense, the manner that Whittle describes Henchard ‘s decease links Henchard straight to the dead yellowbird that Elizabeth-Jane comes across. They both have the same outcome-their cause of decease is famishment. For Henchard, his destiny was sealed in that furmity collapsible shelter decennaries ago. However, some critics have a different position. English teacher Mark Asquith asserts that Henchard ‘s wretchedness can non be attributed to the merchandising of his married woman, but instead his personality: “ If any offense has been committed at all, it is merely that of possessing excessively forceful a character in a universe that rewards credence and moderateness, a fact to which his egocentricity makes him blind ” ( Asquith ) . Although it is true that Henchard has a “ forceful ” nature, this is non sufficient plenty to explicate what finally happens to him. At the terminal of the novel, we see Henchard as a soft adult male, capable of giving and having love, unlike the immature Henchard that was foremost introduced ; it is his actions that are to fault. Readers get the feeling that Henchard is about opposite of the individual seen at the novel ‘s beginning. While Henchard is demanding and weak as a immature adult male, he is resilient and saddened when he dies. Although he is “ at bay ” , it is clear that Henchard accepts the effects of the actions he made in his former life.

Whether Henchard can be considered “ a adult male of character ” is problematic, but he is undisputedly a changed adult male at the terminal of his life. In a sense, Henchard is a really realistic character. Hardy represented the sufferings of human emotion and the effects of one ‘s actions through the innovation of the bird symbol, which illustrates the three chief phases that Henchard passes through. At the age of 21, Hardy characterizes Henchard as a “ weak bird ” for his roseola determinations and deficiency of motive to back up his household. In the 2nd phase, Henchard, as city manager, is characterized as a “ soaring bird ” , as he is a powerful individual in Casterbridge and nil ties him down. When Susan returns, Henchard passes on to the 3rd phase, in which he is compared to a “ caged yellowbird ” . At this point, Henchard is depressed and is trapped in a life of solitariness. He is forced to pass the balance of his life as a worker. Through it all, it is dry that Henchard begins and ends his tragic life as a abandoned farm worker.

Harmonizing to educational author Candyce Norvell, Hardy sought to do Henchard a realistic character non merely so that readers can place with his agony, guilt, sorrow, and solitariness, but besides so that “ readers understand that this narrative is non merely the narrative of one adult male ‘s life ; it is besides about how life works for all human existences ” ( Norvell ) . Norvell is right in doing that premise. The anguish and sympathy readers feel after detecting that Henchard dies entirely shows that Henchard is non the lone individual to hold these experiences. As worlds, we are capable of a broad scope of emotions, from compassion to resentment, and though we try our best to be gay, it is inevitable that we feel some signifier of sorrow. We believe that we can command our lives through our actions, but errors can non be avoided, and the drastic effects of our mistakes are exaggerated in Henchard ‘s narrative. However much we can link with Henchard, it must be noted that what finally happens to him is his ain mistake. If merely he had non laced his furmity drink with intoxicant all those old ages ago, his life may hold turned out wholly different. Yet, Henchard does non brood on these guesss, but faces life caput on, willing to endure in order to atone. Hardy ‘s creative activity of Henchard ‘s character reminds readers that, like the finches that Darwin observed on the Galapagos Islands, we must accommodate in order to last.

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