Thursday, 3 May 2012

Henchard and Saul, Farfrae and David

You know how it is. You're reading one of your favourite passages for the thousandth time, and the truth leaps out at you.

I refer, of course, to that passage in The Mayor of Casterbridge where Henchard forces the choir, with the threat of a poker, to sing Pps 109 to the tune, "Wiltshire". And it struck me.

Henchard is Saul - Farfrae is David.

Googling around the Web, I find that I am by quite a long way not the first to notice this. In fact, you're probably all sat there reading thhis, thinking "Well, Duh.".

But you see the way it is. Henchard is the older man, already ruler of his domain. Farfrae is the young man - taken under Henchard's wing because of his energy and his ability to calm the older man's black moods.

Saul disobeys a divine command and spoils a city rather than destroying it. Henchard cocks up over his dealiing - ignores the wisdom of the conjurer (think of Saul and Samuel) and is ruined financially.

David becomes close to Saul's son: Farfrae becomes close to Henchard's former mistress. Both younger men marry the older one's daughter. The crowds run after the younger - Farfrae's triumph at the fair echoing the songs about the numbers David has slain.

Both older men have their black moods, and both their fatal weaknesses. Both dabble in the black arts. Both die prematurely (as do the beloveds of the younger men) - and in both cases the younger men inherit, thus achieving all the older men tried to prevent.

As I say, apologies if I've bored you. Sometimes you just have to share.

Now I'd better get down to the Moot House for Pouring out of Beakers and Wringing out of Bell-bottoms. Charlii's singing a solo version of Caribbean Blue. She may be after my job, but she's got a lovely voice.

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