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The attitudes and beliefs which influence the outcome of the story 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas Hardy

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Introduction

The attitudes and beliefs which influence the outcome of the story 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas Hardy The Withered Arm is a novel based in a 1800s agricultural society. At the beginning we are introduced to the talk of the poor milk maids and men who gossip about the richer members of their community, the main person being Farmer Lodge, a rich land owner who is bringing his young new wife back to Holmstoke. They also talk about one of the milk maids called Rhoda. She has an illegitimate son by Farmer Lodge; she is isolated from the main group as she is suspected as being a witch. From the story it is very apparent to how class divisions were set. Each person knew their place in society. The story is almost a microcosm of society at the time. Throughout the story, the very different attitudes towards men and women are made clear. Men desire to be respected, they want an heir. It is almost as if they have their wives as a trophy. This can be seen from when Gertrude first goes to Holmstoke, Farmer Lodge says to her "You must expect to be stared at just at first my pretty Gertrude". Men didn't marry for love, more for convenience and their own status; however women such as Gertrude want to be loved by their husbands. When Gertrude's arm is getting worse she says to Rhoda "I shouldn't so much mind it if I hadn't a notion that it makes my husband dislike me, no, love me less. Men think so much of personal appearances." A lot can be decided from this statement. Men were more commonly the head of the house and gave out orders to their wives, which their wives normally would follow without questioning it. Farmer Lodge expects a woman to almost worship him and to do what ever he says. ...read more.

Middle

I feel Hardy told the story to make the reader realise it is not who is not accepted by society, who is gossiped about and who people say is 'bad' that is necessarily bad and you shouldn't always listen to what society say, it is better to wait till the end and find out who really is the victim then. The social, historical and cultural context of the story 'Barbara of the House of Grebe' by Thomas Hardy The novella "Barbara of the house of Grebe" is set in rural England between two small villages of Havenpool and Warborne, near to the city of Melchester. The story is about a wealthy girl, Barbara who falls in love with a very poor but handsome man called Edmond Willowes however a rich older man who is more 'suitable' for Barbara has set his eyes on her, he is called Lord Uplandtowers and doesn't wish to marry for love but for convenience and wealth. The story is sad and a tale of lost love. From the story the reader is able to get a clear view of the attitudes towards marriage and why people got married. Lord Uplandtowers made his feelings about why he wanted to marry Barbara obvious. He said, "An idea, rather than a passion," there fore showing even though he was already a rich man he wanted to have a wealthy wife, who had money, a good status and would bear him an heir to his wealth. He is quite a shallow man who believes in money over love. He sees women as an investment. Lord Uplandtowers never mentions about Barbara as a person. Women were there to look good and find a suitable husband as Barbara was by her parents. When Barbara eloped the text says, "The fears of her parents were realised," and "they continued to think of the disgrace she brought upon herself." ...read more.

Conclusion

Men think so much of personal appearances." We see how important it is to look good in a marriage; Gertrude wants to win over Farmer Lodge's love but feels she cannot while her arm is disfigured. When Edmond arrives at Barbara's house he says the same sort of thing as Gertrude, "My dearest wife, do you think you will mind when I take it off? You will not dislike me, will you?" Showing again how looks were as important in marriage as money and love. This is also backed up by Barbara's own mother when she says, "The one little gift he had to justify your rash choice of him his wonderful good looks should be taken away like this." Looks were important to a marriage in both stories. Lord Uplandtowers wanted an heir as did Farmer Lodge. This was a very important thing to a wealthy man, a son to pass their own wealth down to. Both men had one thing in common, they did have a child. Farmer Lodge had Rhoda's son and Uplandtowers had a girl with Barbara. Although one child was illegitimate this made no difference to their wealth they both received nothing of their fathers money and dint expect to. The wealth of Uplandtowers went to his nephew as did the title 'Earl'. Farmer Lodge's son was eventually hanged though Farmer Lodge did nothing to prevent this and lost Gertrude after the hanging. Both wealthy men lose their wives, the wealthy one they have fought hard to get. Uplandtowers makes Barbara have an epileptic fit when looking at deformed statue whereas Gertrude is hurt by Rhoda. The attitudes towards how people look, marriage and wealth are nearly the same in these two stories. Both stories give a message to the reader; they are both sad and make you feel pity at the end. They make the reader think about the attitudes to various things and question them when they see that innocent people are wrongly accused and consequently die. Anna Boast 11L 1 ...read more.

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