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"Is life fair? Fate in two short stories by Thomas Hardy."

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"Is life fair? Fate in two short stories by Thomas Hardy." My task is to choose three different characters from "The Withered Arm" and "The Melancholy Hussar", both written by Thomas Hardy. I then have to answer the question "Is life fair? Fate in two short stories by Thomas Hardy." To answer this question I will take each character, say how they have "ended up" and I will say whether the way they have behaved in the story merits this ending. The three characters I have chosen from each story are : - The Withered Arm * Farmer Lodge * Gertrude * Rhoda The Melancholy Hussar * Phyllis * Matth�us Tina * Humphrey Gould Characters from "The Withered Arm" In "The Withered Arm" fate seems to have treated Farmer Lodge well - "The driver was a yeoman" - which means that he is a man of property/substance and is doing well in life. Farmer Lodge dies of a "painless decline", even though throughout the story you are made to believe that he isn't a very nice man. He ignores his own son - "The farmer, though he seemed annoyed at the boy's persistent presence..." Farmer Lodge pretends he doesn't even know who the boy is - "One of the neighbourhood. I think he lives with his mother a mile or two off." Farmer Lodge also doesn't seem to care much for Rhoda either - even though she is the mother of his child. ...read more.


She didn't however go to the execution out of an act of spite; it was pure coincidence (a bad one at that!) that it was Rhoda's son who got executed. I do not think that Gertrude deserved to die this way. Life did not treat her fair, and then she had a painful death. She never harmed anyone - she donated clothes to people, and always tried to please her husband. She died in pain, and knowing that her husband loved her less because of her arm, which she didn't deserve at all. Fate does not treat Rhoda well in this story either. She is the only character that lives though - "Her monotonous milking at the dairy was resumed." In the very first page we know she has been treated unfairly - "a thin, fading woman" - no one takes notice of her, and it's as if she's not even there. Farmer Lodge treats Rhoda unfairly too. They had a child together, then he left her and pretends that he doesn't even know Rhoda or her son. All he has ever done for Rhoda, is let her carry on being a milkmaid and has forgotten her. Rhoda is jealous that Farmer Lodge and Gertrude are married, and are in love, which makes Rhoda even lonelier. Rhoda lives her life thinking that Gertrude is something bad, and when she finds Gertrude at her son's conviction she is very angry, and thinks that Gertrude is trying to come between her and her son - "Hussy - to come between us and our child now!" ...read more.


Then when he came back to tell her, he had the cheek to ask Phyllis to cover up for him by telling his father that she never could have married him. Humphrey never did anything for anyone for himself, and when he got himself into a mess he tried to get other people to cover up for him. If anyone deserved to die it would have been Humphrey. Conclusion I have found out that in Hardy's stories life was not fair. Gertrude (The withered arm) did not deserve to die the way she did at all, she was innocent. Although Farmer Lodge, was not a very nice man throughout the story - the very last page made you realise he wasn't that bad and he deserved a "painless decline." Rhoda did not have a very good life, but she carried on to live - her life probably improved after Farmer Lodge had moved away. In The Melancholy Hussar Phyllis and Matth�us should have been able to live together, and Humphrey Gould should have died! However this would have been too perfect. Life was not fair for Phyllis or Matth�us. Matth�us was killed, but Phyllis went on living until she was old -which she deserved. Humphrey Gould did not deserve to carry on living a happy life, because he treated Phyllis unfairly. I have also noticed a similarity between both stories. Farmer Lodge did not treat Rhoda well and Humphrey Gould didn't treat Phyllis well - both women wanted to be loved and lost that person in the end. Gemma Hughes 11E English Coursework 1 ...read more.

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