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Explain how Hardy combines elements of social realism and an interest in the occult in this short story, and how he directs the reader's sympathies to show the unfairness of existence "The Withered Arm" is a tragedy of fate and is a story
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Explain how Hardy combines elements of social realism and an interest in the occult in this short story, and how he directs the reader's sympathies to show the unfairness of existence
"The Withered Arm" is a tragedy of fate and is a story of two women linked to one man. The nature of the tragedy is that the suffering is always a punishment that is disproportionate to the 'offence'. In this story it is the innocent who are punished for the sins of others (Rhoda's son, Gertrude). They exemplify the unfairness of existence.
The story begins with a group of milkmaids gossiping about the farmer's new, young wife. It is, perhaps, a comical scene, but it is quickly apparent that the humour of these sharp tongued, common folk is a bare veil over the hardship of rural life that Hardy finds everywhere. One milkmaid, Rhoda, is quickly established as a former lover of the farmer. She is separated from the others, physically, and by their alienating chatter. At the end of Chapter One, Rhoda's cottage is a painful, if obvious, metaphor for her worn-down existence. Her cottage has been attacked by the elements and is virtually at the
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