• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What do you find most effective in Hardy's technique as a writer of short stories featuring the supernatural? Give consideration to his portrayal of character and his use of narrative development.

Extracts from this document...


What do you find most effective in Hardy's technique as a writer of short stories featuring the supernatural? Give consideration to his portrayal of character and his use of narrative development. By: Zahrah Macci Throughout literature history writers have made use of people's fascination with the macabre. Hardy like many other Victorian writers enjoyed writing short stories which have a lot to do with his fascination with the supernatural. He was an eminent writer who wrote in different types of genres. Two of the famous novels written by Hardy are "The Return of the Native" and "Jude the Obscure". The word supernatural is defined as 'things that cannot be explained according to natural laws the Withered Arm is full of inexplicable events such as Rhoda's vision and Conjurer Trendle's way of intuiting that Gertrude's ailment was the work of an enemy. The withered arm like many of Hardy's stories has an unexpected ending mainly due to complex relationships between the main characters. Hardy tries to convey the idea of Wessex as a historical landscape by using personification and thereby comparing things to the human anatomy. For example Rhoda's cottage which has 'channels of depressions' which are reminiscent of the skin of an aged person. The simile 'the thatch above a rafter showed like a bone protruding through the skin' gives the impression the rafter is rather like a human being. ...read more.


However Gertrude's character changes significantly as the affliction on her arm deteriorates. Consequently she becomes involved with the world of superstition and witchcraft. The condition of her had bought up question marks on her marriage to farmer lodge especially when she suggests her husband could have "struck" her there which demonstrates an element of physical abuse Gertrude receives from farmer Lodge. After visiting Conjuror Trendle with Rhoda she had began using wizardry hoping it would cure her arm after having visited the conjurer for a second time he told her a remedy which was infallible he said she must "touch with the limb the neck of a man who's been hanged," as "it will turn the blood and change the constitution" because of this Gertrude's character changes incredibly as she begins to pray for no reprieve which shows how evil she has become. Conjurer Trendle, another interesting character created by Hardy, lives alone, well away from society in general. His house is five miles away from Holmstoke and it is in the "heart of Egdon heath" he is reputed to be able to cure illnesses that are the work of the devil. He is described as an "exorcist" who has infallible powers. The atmosphere in the location where he lives is sinister. Egdon Heath is reminiscent to the heath in king Lear with it's associations with insanity "thick clouds made the atmosphere dark though it was as yet only early afternoon. ...read more.


The money gained he left for young boys and Rhoda however Rhoda did not accept the money. According to some people Hardy is the master of short stories. Most of these short stories have a focus on one main narrative thread. The Withered Arm is mainly about Gertrude Lodge and when she became involved with the supernatural. The three main characters in the Withered Arm are, Farmer Lodge, Gertrude Lodge and Rhoda Brooks. Short stories have limited amounts of characters as this builds up to the unexpected endings. Hardy uses various techniques to arouse the reader's sense of intrigue and thereby compel the reader to its natural conclusion. At the time the Withered Arm was written, women in this rural society were either tied to the land like Rhoda or to their husbands like Gertrude. Furthermore, women had relatively few rights of property and movement and therefore enjoyed rather little freedom. The story reveals the life, beliefs and values of a countryside community. In Hardy's time there was no access to the modern media which resulted to oral tradition which was the art of story telling. Stories which include supernatural tales, such as this one were popular with the reading public in late Victorian Britain. Personally I enjoyed reading the Withered Arm mainly because of the situation of Rhoda Brooks which grabs attention due to her illegitimate son. I particularly found it interesting because of Gertrude's beliefs in the supernatural. I thought it was worth reading to the end of the story. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Thomas Hardy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Thomas Hardy essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Tess says, Once victim, always victim thats the law. In the light ...

    3 star(s)

    In fact she exclaims, "Pooh - I don't believe any of it!" which is seen to be a very authoritative statement from a girl of her time. The word 'pooh' shows her disgust at the lack of respect held

  2. Marked by a teacher

    The Mayor of Casterbridge - Henchard Vs Farfrae

    3 star(s)

    by using Language. Historical and social background is used in all of Hardy's novels to help him create a good atmosphere for the reader. This was achieved by Hardy producing his own county called Wessex which he made up of different places; some with real names e.g.

  1. Analysis of Jude the Obscure

    The passages concerning Jude's education may have a little more relevance today however, particularly his dreams as a young boy, his self-teaching and large volume of work. He is at a disadvantage because of his social status and access to education.

  2. Examine Thomas Hardys portrayal of women in twi if the stories you have read, ...

    Gertrude loses all of her self-confidence and emotions. Gertrude feels that Farmer Lodge thinks she is unattractive and that he does not love her "he loves me less."

  1. Analysing The First Two Chapters of 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' and How They Act ...

    This is imperative as it clearly depicts the relationship between the two Henchards; they don't have a close affiliation and only communicate when necessary. Most of the early chapters are based on the theme of marriage. This is because, Michael and Susan were married and Michael sold Susan because he was saying how fed up he was with marriage.

  2. The attitudes and beliefs which influence the outcome of the story 'The Withered Arm' ...

    Farmer Lodge contributed in a large way to their deaths because of his attitude to the women he had. He made Rhoda's class become lower than it ever had been; he did nothing to support Rhoda. He made a big deal out of the arm, causing a lot of distress

  1. Discuss Hardy's use of the supernatural element in The Withered Arm. To what extent ...

    blight on Gertrude; this is the first sign of the supernatural in the novel. We know this because when Gertrude visits Conjuror Trendle he comments,' Medicine can't cure it, Tis the work of an enemy' and when Gertrude looks at the egg in the basin of water, she visualises the face of Rhoda.

  2. Compare two mystery stories; 'The Superstitious Man's Story' by Tomas Hardy and 'Night-Fears' by ...

    While the watchman tries to think about the good things in his, (to get away from fear) like family, money and his job, suddenly a stranger appears: "...someone was sitting on the barrier, his back turned on the night watchman's little compound."

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work