Adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel. At a country fair, young hay-trusser Michael Henchard quarrels with his wife Susan, and in a drunken fit decides to auction off his wife and baby to a sailor for five guineas. The next day, realising his loss, he swears not to touch liquor again for as many years as he has lived so far. Eighteen years later, Henchard has become Mayor of Casterbridge, a man well respected but not well liked. The unexpected return of his wife and daughter Elizabeth Jane sets off a turn of events that force him to face the consequences of his selfish impulses and violent temper.