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How does Thomas Hardy create tension and suspense in "The Withered Arm"?

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Introduction

How does Thomas Hardy create tension and suspense in "The Withered Arm"? The withered arm was written around 1891. The story is about a milkmaid called Rhoda Brook, who is obsessed with her ex lover's new bride. She has a dream about his wife where Rhoda grabs Gertrude, Farmer Lodge's wife, by her arm and hurls her to the floor and eventually causes Gertrude to have a withered arm. In the dictionary it states that suspense means "A state of anxiety or uncertainty." Tension means "A situation or condition of suspense or uneasiness." Examples of where you might come across moments of tension is in a horror film, there are usually noises and effects which makes you think that something is going to happen which builds up suspense. An author or film director should keep their audience in suspense because it makes the story more exciting because if there is no suspense then it makes it boring, so the audience will not want to read on. ...read more.

Middle

Strangely, the two women become close friends, but Rhoda is shocked when Gertrude says that she wants to visit a man called Conjuror Trendle. Rhoda is afraid that Conjuror Trendle might tell Gertrude that Rhoda had something to do with her injured arm, "She had been seized with sudden dread that this Conjuror Trendle might name her as the malignant influence." After they have visited the Conjuror, Gertrude hardly speaks to Rhoda because she couldn't understand why Rhoda had taken her to see Conjuror Trendle if she knew that it was her who caused Gertrude's arm to become shrivelled, "Was it you who first proposed coming here?" Mrs. Lodge suddenly inquired after a long pause, "How very odd if you did." At this point Hardy is trying to make the reader feel suspense because you don't know for sure if Gertrude did see Rhoda's face in the water, which Conjuror Trendle showed to her. ...read more.

Conclusion

Her plan is now complete. She waits inside the jail to get her chance to touch the hanged mans corpse. After the young man is hung, his corpse is carried from the gallows to the inside of the prison in an open coffin. After rubbing her arm along the red rope burn around the hanged mans neck, her arm is cured. To her amazement, she hears Rhoda's voice; standing next to her is Farmer Lodge. The hanged man is their son. Gertrude falls unconscious because the shock was too much for her to handle and she never recovered. After Gertrude's funeral Farmer Lodge sold his land and moved to a coastal town. He lived alone for two years but then died. Rhoda was not seen for some time but eventually she returned to Holmstoke and took up her old job at the dairy. In Farmer Lodge's will he left all his money to Rhoda but she refused to accept it. The unexpected ending is an exciting way to end the story, because nobody would imagine it to end the way it did, it was unpredictable. ...read more.

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