Travelling the dirt roads of Wessex in search of work, Michael Henchard (Ciaran Hinds) a farm worker, auctions his wife Susan (Juliet Aubrey) and baby daughter in a moment of drunken madness at a country fair.
Years later, Susan and her daughter Elizabeth-Jane (Jodhi May) return, seeking Michael in Casterbridge where he has become a rich and respected member of Wessex society. Driven by the need to make amends, he remarries Susan but in a tragic twist of fate, she dies, but not before leaving a letter containing a shocking revelation.
As a romance blossoms between Elizabeth-Jane and the mayor's charismatic business manager Farfrae (James Purefoy). Henchard become convinced that the young man is determined to destroy him and orders Elizabeth-Jane never to see him again, setting a chain of events in motion that will change their lives forever.
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