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81 THE HALO OVER LUCETTA TEMFLEMAN By Ruth Marie Faurot (University of the Faclfic) Scholars have noted the revisions and restorations In the editions of The Mayor of Casterbrldge. Thomas Hardy explained in the preface to the MëTlstock Edition that he had restored portions at the Instance of some good Judges across the Atlantic, who strongly represented that the home edition suffered from the omission. Some shorter passages and names, omitted or altered for reasons which no longer exist, In the original printing of both English and American editions, have also been replaced or Inserted.1 The minor replacements In one paragraph, however, lead to a puzzling Interpretation, to an ambiguity which surrounds the role of Lucetta Templeman. In Chapter XXVI, Lucetta Templeman, awaiting Donald Farfrae, is unexpectedly visited by Michael Henchard. She finds herself, aided by Elizabeth, who Is also in love with Donald Farfrae, entertaining two suitors at the tea table. In the First Edition, and the restored text of the Mellstock Edition, the situation Is described: They [Henchard and Farfrae] sat stiffly side by side at the darkening table, like some Tuscan painting of the two disciples supping at Emmaus. Lucetta, forming the third and haloed figure, was opposite them; Elizabeth Jane, being out of the game, and out of the group could observe all from afar, like the evangelist who had to write It down: that there were long spaces of taciturnity, when all exterior circumstance was subdued to the touch of spoons and china, the click of a heel on the pavement under the window, the passing of a wheelbarrow or cart, the whistling of the carter, the gush of water Into householders* buckets at the town-pump opposite; the exchange of greetings among their neighbours, and the rattle of the yokes by which they carried off their evening supply. "More bread-and-butter?" said Lucetta to Henchard and Farfrae equally, holding out between them a plateful of long slices. Henchard took a slice by one end and Donald by the other; each feeling certain he was the man meant; neither let go, and the slice came in two.2 The underlined words changed after the first edition. Instead of Lucetta's being a "haloed" figure, she becomes "chief figure;" "all from afar" becomes "from afar all things;" and "like the evangelist who had to write It down" is omitted. The changes might seem minor, but surely not in conjunction with the beginning of the paragraph In which Hardy openly Invites the 82 comparison with Christ and the two disciples supping at Emmaus, observed by the recording evangelist. The haloed figure, Lucetta, becomes Christ, Elizabeth Jane must be Luke the evangelist, and Henchard and Farfrae are the two disciples ("as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed It, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him." Luke 24: 30-31).3 For Lucetta to be identified as a Christ figure opens interesting possibilities as to her role in the novel. That Hardy changed the wording from "haloed" to "chief" and removed Elizabeth Jane's comparison to St. Luke suggests that Hardy realized It did Invite a strange Interpretation. But then, he restored the original. In view of these revised words, the role of Lucetta merits a close examination. Hardy wrote, on January 2, 1886, the publication day of The Mayor of Casterbrldge In serial form: "I fear It will not be so good as I meant, but after all. It is not Improbabilities of Incident but Improbabilities of character that matter." He continues In the journal the next day with a pertinent statement: "My art Is to Intensify the expression of things, as is done by Crlvelli, Bellini, etc., so that the heart and inner meaning Is made vividly visible." The next recorded item from his journal, dated March 4, elaborates upon the inner meaning made visible by the use of the terms "visible essences" and "abstract realisms."^ Such comments made upon the completion and during the serial appearance of The Mayor of Casterbrldge justify the search for the abstract truth behind-¥he appearance of the characters In the novel.5 That Hardy believed...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 81-85
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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