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The Withered Arm - Trace the developing relationship between Rhoda Brook and Gertrude Lodge. How does Thomas Hardy use the supernatural to engage the readers' interest, build up tension and keep the story going?

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Coursework The Withered Arm By Thomas Hardy Trace the developing relationship between Rhoda Brook and Gertrude Lodge. How does Thomas Hardy use the supernatural to engage the readers' interest, build up tension and keep the story going? 'The Withered Arm' is set in 1888 in a place called Wessex - now known as Devon. It is set in a typically English rural location, mainly farms and small cottages for farm workers. There are two main characters; Rhoda Brook - a milkmaid and Gertrude Lodge - newly married to local landlord Farmer Lodge. Back then everybody knew each other and so knew everybody's business. Men are more respected and did all of the work whilst the women stayed at home and did the house work. If women were single they lived with their parents or on their own in a cottage. If the had a child whilst out of wedlock then they were frowned upon by society and were very much disrespected by everybody else. ...read more.


She throws it to the floor and as she does so awakens. Rhoda could still "Feel her antagonists arm within her grasp even now." However when she looks on the floor Gertrude is nowhere to be seen. Hardy first introduces the supernatural in to the story when Gertrude and Rhoda travel to meet Conjuror Trendle. Gertrude has a problem on her right arm that is in the shape of a hand. Gertrude has heard about what the Conjuror can do and she thinks he can help her. When they get there they are very surprised (well at least Gertrude is) to be told that mark on her arm is that of an enemy and is not easily cured. " Medicine cant cure it...'Tis the work of an enemy." The conjuror then goes on to say that if Gertrude wishes to know the identity enemy is then she should go inside with him alone. ...read more.


This time the reader wants to read on because they don't know whether Gertrude will go to the gallows to touch the man. The reader doesn't think she will but there is a chance that she will so the reader carries on to find out if she does. In the end Gertrude does decide go to the gallows. She arranges with the hangman, Davies, the night before what will happen the following day. She goes to the prison and touches the body but just as she does so two people come through the door. It is Farmer Lodge and Rhoda; the hanged boy is their son. The trio are deeply shocked, Gertrude by Lodge and Rhoda and Lodge and Rhoda by Gertrude. Rhoda storms over to Gertrude and starts to attack her. She says "This is the meaning of what Satan showed me in the vision!" She does something to the younger woman and she slides down the wall unconscious. Gertrude's condition was so serious that after a few days she died. Rhoda returns to the village and lives there for many years. There the story ends. ...read more.

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