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"The Withered Arm" and "The Superstitious Man's story" - Explain what makes them examples of a 'good short story'.

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Referring in detail to 2 short stories that you have read, explain what makes them examples of a 'good short story' The two stories I have chosen to examine in detail, in order to show that these are good examples of short stories are "The Withered Arm" and "The Superstitious Man's Story." Thomas Hardy wrote both short stories around the year 1914. Thomas Hardy's 'The Withered Arm' and ' The Superstitious Man's Story' are both excellent examples of short stories because they both have interesting beginnings and don't spend a long time setting the scene. This helps you understand the story and enjoy the content of the books. "The Withered Arm" has a tightly structured plot, the three main characters are quickly established and the plot is based around magic, superstition to create a sense of fear with a tragic outcome. 'The Withered Arm' is set at a milking farm with milkmaids chatting about Farmer Lodge returning back with his new bride (Gertrude Lodge), "He do bring home his bride tomorrow, I hear." Gertrude Lodge visits a milkmaid called Rhoda Brooks in a dream where Rhoda ends up grabbing tight grip of Gertrude's arm in a tight grip and all of a sudden waking up. Gertrude later becomes good friends with Rhoda Brooks and showed Rhoda the problem with her arm, "she uncovered her left hand and arm: and their outline confronted Rhoda's gaze as the exact original of the limb she had beheld and sized in her dream." ...read more.


There is a really good description of Gertrude Lodge when she visits Rhoda in the dream, "that young wife, in pale silk dress and white bonnet, but with features shockingly distorted, and wrinkled as by age." This changes the reader's perception of Gertrude's character, and also helps establish the character and the plot of the story, thus creating atmosphere for the reader. The story has a mystery and slight-horror side to it, which makes the story interesting and more effective for the reader. This proved to create a powerful atmosphere within the story line, often through a build up of tension and suspense. The effective ending in 'The Withered Arm' is that Gertrude discovers that the hanged person is Farmer Lodge and Rhoda Brooks's son. This is known as a twist in the tale. 'The Superstitious Man's Story' has a structured plot with two main characters. The plot is based around midsummer night eve, with a supernatural feature, creating a fear of the unknown and an eerie mood. 'The Superstitious Man's Story' is set at the home of William and his wife who are both the main characters. 'The Superstitious Man's Story' is about a married couple at home on Midsummer Eve, "Last night being Old Midsummer Eve." The man 'William' had gone to bed, and his wife who was up finishing the ironing. While she was hard at work 'William' walked downstairs and out of the house without saying a word, "no word was said either side, William not being a man given much to speaking, and his wife being occupied with her work." ...read more.


heavy in his hand for years - and he feared it meant a death in the parish" this gives an eerie mood to the story suggestive of something sinister about to happen. There is a build up of tension when we find out his boots are still at the stairs even though he's just left the house, "to her great surprise, and might I say alarm, on reaching the foot of the stairs his boots were standing there as they always stood when the had gone to rest." This is effective because this moves on the story by the build up of tension. When Williams's wife finds him asleep there is a good example of a simile, "as sound as a rock." At the end when William actually dies his "fellow-mower" saw a miller-moth come from his mouth and fly straight away. The effective ending in 'The Superstitious Man's Story' is that William actually dies and his spirit is seen at a different place at the time of his death. The miller moth is a sign of death and is his spiritual presence. I enjoyed reading both of these stories due to them both being written by the same author, Thomas Hardy. Both stories were based on the same style, Thomas Hardy using imagery and description to create various effects. They both had good examples of adjectives and similes within them and good story structures. The mood of both stories was eerie and sinister, suggesting something serious was about to happen. ...read more.

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