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This epic work is one of the most tragic of Thomas Hardy’s stories. The novel comes full circle as Michael Henchard rises from poverty and drunkenness to wealth and position, ultimately to die poor and bitter. The Mayor’s own story is linked to the almost mythological struggle of the old with the new, as his power, his business and even his love for a woman are challenged by the young and thrusting Donald Farfrae. Progress must ultimately triumph over the old way of life, leaving Henchard defeated and disgraced.