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Which of the female characters in the short story, in your opinion, suffers the most?

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Introduction

Alexander Okill 11E 13th February 2002 The Withered Arm Which of the female characters in the short story, in your opinion, suffers the most? Thomas Hardy, prolific English novelist and poet. Hardy was born in Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, on June 2, 1840. Like in 'The Withered Arm', Hardy grew up in an isolated country region on the edge of a wild stretch of heath. His father, a stonemason and builder, apprenticed him early to a local architect engaged in restoring old churches. From 1862 to 1867 Hardy worked for an architect in London and later continued to practise architecture, despite ill health, in Dorset. Meanwhile he was writing poetry, though with little success. He then turned to novels, finding them more saleable, and by 1874 he was able to support himself by writing. Straight away in the novel we are made to feel sympathetic towards Rhoda the other milkmaid's gossip about her and talk about the farmer's new wife out loud so that Rhoda has to listen "He do bring home his bride tomorrow, I hear". Gertrude is a "rosy-cheeked tisty-tosty" woman, which is a great contrast to Rhoda, who is described as a "thin, fading woman of thirty", and this is one of the reasons why Rhoda is so bitter and jealous. ...read more.

Middle

Rhoda is so upset that she violently grabs the manifestation of Gertrude and throws her across the room. "....swung out her right hand, seized the confronting spectre by its obtrusive left arm, and whirled it backward to the floor". We have to sympathise for Rhoda as she thought the dream was real and was actually being attacked by Farmer Lodge's new wife. The next day Rhoda is visited by Gertrude and Rhoda tries to hide because she is so scared after the vision. Gertrude befriends Rhoda and reveals the injury to her left arm. At this point we feel sorry for both women as Gertrude has been physically injured and cursed, and Rhoda is feeling a tremendous amount of guilt for cursing Gertrude as she finds out how naive and caring Gertrude is. "This innocent young thing should have her blessing and not her curse". "One night when I was sound asleep, dreaming I was away in some strange place, a pain suddenly shot into my arm there, and was so keen as to awaken me". Rhoda starts to believe that the villagers were right in saying the she was a witch. "0, can it be,' she said to herself, when her visitor had departed, 'that I exercise a malignant power over people against my own will?" ...read more.

Conclusion

As a result of Farmer Lodges loss of interest in Gertrude, Gertrude becomes increasingly obsessed with finding a cure for her withering arm. Gertrude's personality changes as well as her physical looks "Her closet was lined with bottles, packets, and ointments-pots of every description - nay, bunches of mystic herbs, charms, and books of necromancy, which in her schoolgirl time she would have ridiculed as folly". This shows just how desperate she is to gain Farmer Lodge's love as she is willing to try anything to cure her arm, even things she does not believe in. Gertrude is now so desperate that she will try anything even if another person has to die "O, Lord, hang some guilty or innocent person soon". When Gertrude realises that the corpse is Rhoda and Farmer Lodge's son she is shocked to the point where she can no longer take the stress "She never reached home alive". This is the point where we feel most sympathy for Gertrude but the novel end with the death of every one that Rhoda had ever cared about; her son, Farmer Lodge and Gertrude. I think that Rhoda is the one that suffers the most because she has to live the rest of her life completely on her own and with the anger of her son dying, the guilt of cursing her only friend and the feeling of rejection from Farmer Lodge. ...read more.

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