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In the Withered Arm, by Thomas Hardy, who do you feel more sympathy for Rhoda or Gertrude.

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Introduction

In the Withered Arm, by Thomas Hardy, who do you feel more sympathy for Rhoda or Gertrude. The Withered arm is typical of Hardy's novellas, as it is a tragedy. It involves two main characters, Rhoda and Gertrude. Rhoda and Gertrude both have their own different problems that the must face. Rhoda and Gertrude become friends after they first meet. Rhoda had an illegitimate child to farmer lodge who marries Gertrude. Before Rhoda and Gertrude meet Rhoda does not know what Gertrude is like so is bitter about the idea of her marrying farmer lodge who hardy hints Rhoda is still in love with. Rhoda is described to be old before her age and works as a milkmaid. She receives no help in the upbringing of the boy she had with farmer lodge so she works hard to care for him. The other milkmaids talk about her and they start to talk about the subject of farmer lodges new wife. This part makes you feel some sympathy for Rhoda as she is being talked about when she is still there. Because of the times Rhoda was not at all respected for bringing up a child on her own but instead she was treated as a social outcast. ...read more.

Middle

In allot of the other parts of the story you feel sorry for Gertrude and her afflicted arm but this chapter must be remembered as Rhoda was scared and the vision gave an incorrect view of Gertrude she could not be to blame for Gertrude's arm. When the two women meet, they become friends. They are both alone as they don't have a social equal. Rhoda is scorned as she gave birth to an illegitimate son and Gertrude is the farmer's wife, which is quite an important position so she also has no social equal. The friend ship between farmer's wife and milkmaid seems an unlikely one but in retrospect it makes allot of sense. At this point in the story when the two women first meet you feel sorry for Rhoda more than Gertrude as you do not know the full extent of the injury and the only thing to feel sorry for her is the fact that she is a nice women who Rhoda hurt. Rhoda on the other hand has to live with the guilt that she hurt this woman who is being so nice to her and her family. ...read more.

Conclusion

In those times women did not travel far without men. The town is only about 15 miles away but that is still too far. She borrows one of the farm horses when Farmer Lodge says that he is away on holiday. You feel sorry at her desperation as she is only doing this so farmer lodge will like her for her physical beauty but she does not seem to mind. The body that she touches happens to be Rhoda's son and farmer Lodge is with her. You feel sorry for both the women equally as much at the end of the story but for different reasons. Rhoda has had her whole life taken away from her however little it was and Gertrude has now died as a result of trying to improve her physical beauty. In conclusion I think that you can not feel more sympathy towards either woman as they are both in the same boat and it is because of each other that they had so much grief and hardship. If they had nether met or had anything to do with each other then they would not have been like they were. It was all a matter of situation and circumstances. ...read more.

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