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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.

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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