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

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

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. Compare and contrast the characters of Alec DUrberville and Angel Clare in Tess of ...

    both characters take advantage of Tess's vulnerability to fulfil their own romantic motives. At first, Alec appears to be Tess's knight in shining armour, come to rescue her from the angry Car Darch, but he rides off into The Chase, unbeknownst to Tess, and uses the opportunity to rape her.

  2. 'Father and Son' by Bernard McLaverty - short story review

    McLaverty captures the very human tendency to wound with a demeaning comment and cast up every fall from grace. Part of the conflict comes from the fact the son sees himself as the adult and his father as inferior. He tells his father that he should go to bed and chastises him for not shaving.

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

    The economy plays quite an important part in the tale as well. This is because Michael and Susan first went towards Weydon-Priors, because Henchard was in search of employment. Change is evident in the area of Weydon-Priors as the turnip-hoer told Michael of the knocking down of the houses, lack of vocation.

  2. Thomas Hardy "The Withered Arm" and "The Sons Veto".

    all demolished regularly at bedtime, after a single day of permanence, seemed a reckless waste of successful fabrication.' From this we see how intricately her hair is done, but it seems as a waste as it is removed every night and done again the following morning, it shows us of Sophy's purposeless life.

  1. Who suffers most in 'The Withered Arm'?

    This creates hatred and bitterness in Rhoda for Gertrude; she starts to envy Gertrude and tries to compare herself to her attractive and youthful looks. She sends her son to bring back a description of her, 'If she's dark or fair, if she's tall-as tall as I' As Farmer Lodge

  2. Compare and contrast at least two of the female characters in two or more ...

    Rhoda's son explained to his mother that she "gives things away to other folks", and this immediately makes the reader warm to her. The fact that she does not care for social classes becomes clear as she becomes intimate friends with Rhoda.

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

    was upper class, it was almost expected of her social class to give a bit of charity. Lower social classes were used as examples for the law, as Rhoda's son was, he was seen as unimportant because of his social class, if he had been upper class he would never have been hanged.

  2. A Withered Arm

    and not far from the border of Egdon Heath, whose dark countenance was visible in the distance as they drew nigh to their home. 'They've just been saying down in barton that your father brings his young wife home from Anglebury tomorrow,' the woman observed, 'I shall want to send

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