“An Extreme Contrast”
Michael Henchard and Donald Farfrae are the two main characters in “The Mayor of Casterbridge,” who the reader will discover are complete opposites. “Character is Fate,” said Novalis, “and Farfrae’s character was just the reverse of Henchard’s” (Page 117). Henchard and Farfrae have a night-and-day contrast. Henchard is quick-tempered, while Farfrae is a man of calmness. While there is an extreme contrast between Henchard and Donald, it helps advance the plot.
Henchard and Farfrae are contrasted in more than just their actions but also in the way the book portrays them. Henchard is not well-educated, stands around six feet tall, has dark hair, and the novel repeatedly makes references to his dark eyes. Farfrae, on the other hand, is intelligent, short, and well-informed about the business of corn and grain. The contrast between Henchard and Farfrae begins to show that Henchard depends more on his hard labor, whereas Farfrae relies on his intelligence. The contrast begins to show the night-and-day personalities of the two men.
Donald Farfrae is passing through Casterbridge, and he is on his way to America in search of wealth when he meets Michael Henchard. Farfrae, being well-educated, has a valuable technique for wheat, and it saves Henchard the embarrassment of his recent bad decision concerning cropping. Henchard convinces Farfrae to stay in Casterbridge and work for him, so Farfrae turns out to be an even better manager than Henchard could ever be by improving the technology, getting things up to date, becoming organized, and improving business discipline.
Realizing Farfrae is outdoing him, Henchard starts to become jealous. Farfrae unintentionally ends up throwing a better party than Henchard. Henchard becomes aggravated and fires his good friend and employee Farfrae. This helps advance the plot.