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The withered arm, a short story written by Thomas Hardy, this story is written in a different way to some of Charles Dickens short story such as 'trial for murder'.

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Introduction

The Withered Arm The withered arm, a short story written by Thomas Hardy, this story is written in a different way to some of Charles Dickens short story such as 'trial for murder', 'The Signalman' and 'Confession found in a prison' by the story being long and going over a long period of time it is written in chapters, nine to be precise. This story is character driven, with character development as it shows how Rhoda becomes more jealous throughout the story, it is a retrospective like 'Trial for murder', there is a pastoral, a whole county society, Hardy writes detailed descriptions of settings where as Dickens settings are not describes in as much detail. The characters feel that the things that have happened are supernatural i.e. that if there's a supernatural cause there is a supernatural explanation but really there's a rational explanation for the things that have happened. The supernatural is judged by society. A quote said by D.H. Lawrence criticizes Hardy's characters saying: "Hardys characters do not do they endure" He said this quote to criticise Thomas Hardy because D.H. Lawrence does not write like Hardy. In this story it starts in a dairy on farmer Lodges land, with the milkers talking about him and his new wife, this is a story within a story, "He do bring home his bride tomorrow, I hear, they've come as far as Anglebury to-day". ...read more.

Middle

that she really saw" Rhoda seeing this incubus of Gertrude shows a sign of mental illness an that she feels rejected from Farmer Lodge. The incubus whom Rhoda sees is in the room trying to suffocate her, as Gertrude is a kind person she visits Rhoda at her home. Rhoda's vision of Gertrude is as how she looks but her character and manner she did not dream so that takes her by surprise. Gertrude keeps going to Rhoda's house and they become friends, sharing thoughts and feelings. This is character development but this develops more as Rhoda finds out about Gertrude's arm she feels bad guilt, and Rhoda was surprised that Gertrude was the incubus that she saw in her dream, "She had named the night and the hour of Rhoda's special encounter and Brook Felt like a guilty thing" Now Rhoda feels that she has put a curse on Gertrude when she felt hatred for her but now as she s her friend she feels guilty, "O, can it be, she said to herself, when her visitor had departed, 'that I exercise a malignant power over people against my own will" When Gertrude's arm becomes shrivelled Rhoda feels even more guilt, but Gertrude isn't as bothered about her injury as Farmer Lodge, Gertrude feels now that she has a disfigurement he doesn't care for her as much. ...read more.

Conclusion

Six years later Gertrude's arm is still the same and Farmer Lodge is losing interest in her, Gertrude goes into a state of depression, showing even more psychological depth in characters, Gertrude goes back again to conjurer Trendles the 'fake', he explains that he cannot cure her arm, but for her to be cured, is that she needs to touch a corpse of a body which has just been hanged, no supernatural cure is needed, just a rational one. "It will turn your blood: where seen to be capable of a scientific no less than a ghostly interpretation" For Gertrude to go to the hanging she needs to cross 'Egdon Heath' again Hardy uses this motif. People think that she is at the hanging to watch but she is there for another reason, the executioner lets her touch the corpse, he tells her about the hanging, an 18 year old being hanged for arson, Gertrude touches the corpse the next day, she is cured. With the shock of seeing Rhoda and Farmer Lodge standing together Gertrude dies of shock, the 18 year old arsonist was indeed their son, Farmer Lodge lived a lonely life he moves to the coast and dies two years later. Rhoda is the only survivor, maybe because Hardy feels that Rhoda should survive but to be left to feel guilty for the deaths of the others. ...read more.

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