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Like most of Hardy's novels, The Mayor of Casterbridge is a powerful and harsh study of characters defeated in their struggle with the physical and social environment, victims of their own impulses as well as capricious chance. While drunk, unemployed Michael Henchard sells his wife and daughter at a country fair to a sailor. His remorse leads him to forsake drinking and embark on a fruitless 18-year search for his family. When a reunion at last occurs, it is marked by deception and tragedy.
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