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From reading the selected pre-1914 prose what do you learn of Hardy's use of vivid description, dramatic incident and reference to Nineteenth century customs and traditions?

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Introduction

Catherine Evans 11s January 26th, 2004 Coursework Pre-1914 Prose Thomas Hardy: The Withered Arm The Mayor of Casterbridge (Chapter one) The Return of the Native (pg 414 - 447) near end of novel From reading the above, what do you learn of Hardy's use of vivid description, dramatic incident and reference to Nineteenth century customs and traditions? Which of the three pieces was your favourite and why? From reading the two extracts and the story, I can see that the main difference in the book is how life is in the book compared to our modern 21st century. People in the 19th century depended very heavily on agriculture and farming especially in 'Wessex', where nearly all of Hardy's novels were set. Wages for agricultural labourers were the lowest in the country in Dorset, averaging out at the equivalent of 37p a week in 1840. Magic and superstition was rife in the 19th century, and many people believedin dark powers. Every village in Wessex was supposed to have their own witch. Magic play a big role in two of the stories which I am studying, 'The Withered Arm', and 'The Return of the Native'. ...read more.

Middle

In this case, Eustacia is very depressed and unhappy, so the weather is atrochiously stormy, raining and windy. Because, it has rained so much, the pool has created a whirlpool, and Eustacia falls in. To describe the scene more effectively, Hardy uses metaphors such as: 'Boiling cauldron', referring to the whirpool, the current, and emphasising the amount of water in the pool. Hardy's use of dramatic incident in all three of his stories manage to shape the whole story, especially in 'The Mayor of Casterbridge'. In think amin the dramatic incident in the extract is when Michael Henchard sells his wife at auction when he becomes drunk. The day after, Michael realises how stupid he has been and vows never to touch another drop of alcohol for however many years as his age. I think this is very effective because the day after Michael sells his wife and baby, he realises that alcohol changed him into something he doesn't want to be. In 'The Mayor of Casterbridge', when Hardy uses dramatic incident, we learn that Hardy builds up suspension before the dramatic climax. ...read more.

Conclusion

Gertrude obviously has no idea how this happened. Hardy's use of vivid description in the book is very effective throughout, but especially in Rhoda's vision. Rhoda is obsessed with the idea of Farmer Lodge being with another woman, and sends her son to look at Gertrude and report back to her. When he says that Gertrude is shorter that Rhoda, she seems pleased and smug about herself. I like the way how Hardy has interlinked everything, e.g. Rhoda's son's father is Farmer Lodge, the young man who was hanged was Rhoda's son. I think it is a very clever story, and at the end, Gertrude dies at the fright of seeing Rhoda's son dead, lying limp in the coffin. I think that the story shows that Rhoda is perhaps so obsessed about Farmer Lodge and Gertrude it is almost unhealthy, and because of this, maybe this is why she had the vision in the first place. I learn that Gertrude is forgiving, even though when she went to see Conjuror Trendle and he created the concoction of egg white and water, Rhoda's image formed. Gertrude was surprised, but she doesn't question it because she had no idea that Rhoda had anything to do with her arm. ...read more.

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