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How does Thomas Hardy create and maintain a sense of mystery and malignant, uncontrollable forces in "The withered arm".

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Pre twentieth century literature Thomas hardy How does Thomas Hardy create and maintain a sense of mystery and malignant, uncontrollable forces in "The withered arm" Thomas Hardy creates and maintains mystery and malignant, underlying forces by using symbolic descriptions of the setting, the atmosphere and the strange unguessable plot. Thomas Hardy sets the story in the fictional village of Holmstoke. Holm means home and stoke means fire. This gives two impressions, one of a nice cosy warm story, but it also gives the impression that fire is also connected with bad things like Hell and witchcraft. This makes you start to wonder what the story will be like. Thomas Hardy uses natural settings to contrast with unnatural events or behaviour. The heath is used a lot because of this. He also uses the heath because it helps create atmosphere and because it is outside he also uses the weather to reflect the characters mood. An example of this is when Rhoda and Gertrude cross the heath to see Conjuror Trendle and Rhoda does not want to and "would have done anything to escape this enquiry", the weather and the atmosphere reflect her dread of what will happen. ...read more.


Thomas Hardy uses Conjuror Trendle a lot to help create mystery and uncontrollable forces. Just the fact that conjuror Trendle lives on the heath starts to make the reader feel a sense of mystery because the heath represents the weirdness or the story. Trendle also helps create mystery by doing magic in secret and not openly "He did not profess his remedial practises openly" and it also helps that he was in disguise. He was disguised as a dealer in furze , turf sharp sand and other local products". He had to be disguised because people in that time were very superstitious. I think Thomas Hardy uses Gertrude to help create a sense of uncontrollable forces, this is because things are happening to her mentally and physically which she has no control over. Also because the things that are happening to her are unexplainable, it helps create and maintain malignant uncontrollable forces. Hardy illustrates this physically when her incredible beauty is which is described as "the light under a heap of rose petals" becomes ruined and scarred by her withered arm; and mentally when she turns from a very nice person to an "irritable, superstitious ...read more.


Thomas Hardy uses many different languages effects. He uses similes and metaphors, to describe Gertrude "her face as comely as a live doll's" and her face "like the light under a heap of rose petals". Hardy also uses extended imagery when he uses the river outside the executioner's house to link him to the village, "it stood close to the same stream". He also uses personification in describing the river "the waters of which emitted a steady roar". Thomas Hardy shows us which characters are "common" and which aren't by having the "common" ones use dialect. The only person not to use dialect is Gertrude. Another important factor in creating and maintaining a sense of mystery and malignant uncontrollable forces was the plot. The vision coming true and Rhoda beginning to doubt herself really draws the reader in to the story. I think it was a very effective ending giving no clear answers like yes, Rhoda was a witch or not or no, it was all a coincidence and leaving it up to the reader. That really helps maintain mystery In conclusion I think that by using the characters, settings and a strange plot, Thomas Hardy successfully creates and maintains mystery and malignant forces in the withered arm. Iram Tariq 1 English coursework ...read more.

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