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Examine Thomas Hardys portrayal of women in twi if the stories you have read, "The Withered Arm" and "The Distracted Preacher".

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Introduction

Examine Thomas Hardys portrayal of women in two of the stories you have read Thomas Hardy portrays the main female character in "The Distracted Preacher." We are first told about Lizzie Newbury at the very start of this story at the very beginning when she agrees to let Mr Stockton lodge with her as no accommodation had been arranged for the "stand in" minister. We are told that are not unsuitable for the lodge, these are the curates, the parsons friends or such like." The reasons for this unfold as the story progresses. Thomas Hardy portrays Lizzie as a gentle woman with great kindness to others. She is an excellent landlady who should be held in high esteem and is a respectable widower, "he saw before his eyes a fine and extremely well made young woman," (pg. 144) Lizzie was also a religious woman and goes to church daily. "She was one of the trimmers who went to church every day." However, Lizzie also shows a rebellious side to her character very early, when she takes Mr Stockton to find a cure for his cold, "something more likely to cure it than that cough stuff." ...read more.

Middle

The main female characters in "The Withered Arm" are Rhoda and Gertrude. They are both portrayed in very different ways. The first character we are introduced to is Rhoda. We are told she works in a milking parlour. She is the mother of farmer lodge's son who she sends out to spy on the newly wed Mrs Lodge when she gets back from her honeymoon with Farmer Lodge. This mainly because she is both curious and jealous about anyone who becomes a companion with Farmer Lodge, especially when everyone in the milk parlour talks about her Because of all the jealousy Rhoda feels towards Gertrude, she stayed up thinking about the information she had found out about Gertrude her arrival. Rhoda was still thinking about Gertrude when she went to bed, this caused her to dream of the young wife dressed in "a pale silk dress and white bonnet", but she had features shockingly distorted and wrinkled as by age. In the dream Gertrude was sitting upon her chest with her blue eyes peering cruelly into her face. In the dream Rhoda felt suffocated by Gertrude who was sitting on top of her and so she grabbed "the confronting spectre by its obtrusive left arm, and whirled it backward to the floor." ...read more.

Conclusion

She becomes obsessed with getting rid of the withered arm and therefore hoping to retrieve his love once again. This causes her to revolve all of her thoughts and actions around him. Hardy shows Gertrude to be a very determined lady who could overcome many hurdles to achieve her final goal, even if it was something completely out of character for her and the idea of it disgusted her. The story concludes with Gertrude returning to her "weak lady like ways as she when she collapsed when she realised that the dead body was the son of Rhoda and Farmer Lodge. "Her delicate vitality sapped _ _ _ (pg. 69) and Fragile young Gertrude died" Rhoda still appears the stronger character at the end of the story and admits to Gertrude that she had a vision about her "this is the meaning of what Satan showed me in my vision." After reading both "The Withered Arm" and "The Distracted Preacher", I feel that Thomas Hardy likes his female characters to show two sides to their character - typically timid females who rely on men and then a strong, independent character. In both stories the women end up relying on their weaker side, "toeing" the line by obeying menfolk. ...read more.

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