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A Comparison between 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens and 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas Hardy.

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Introduction

A Comparison between 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens and 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas Hardy. 'The Signalman' written in 1866 by Charles Dickens and 'The Withered Arm' written in 1888 by Thomas Hardy. They were both written in the 19th century but 'The Signalman' was written earlier in the 19th century than 'The Withered Arm'. Both of the stories are mysteries but 'The Signalman' is also a ghost story and 'The Withered Arm' deals with the supernatural in a different way. Both 'The Signalman' and 'The Withered Arm' the stories are influenced by the writer's backgrounds. For example Hardy lived in Dorset and Dickens was also in a train crash that could have made him put the crash in the story as he could have been thinking about it at that time. In 'The Withered Arm' Gertrude was seen more as a high classed lady and Rhoda as an average type of person. But in 'The Signalman' there was only a slight hint. The titles of both stories do not explain much about the stories; though 'The Withered Arm' deals with more superstition rather than natural causes. ...read more.

Middle

After this happened she is run down that she wondered whether her past name calling of a 'witch' could be true or not. As she thought now that she might have 'malignant powers'. All this causes her to feel guilty and the one to blame. The end of Hardy's story is Gertrude trying to find a cure for her 'ailment'. The cure most successful is for her to 'touch with the limb the neck of a man who's been hanged', 'Before he's cold - just after he has been cut down'. Gertrude did not like the idea of doing this but she went along with it and went to a hanging to touch the criminal's limb. In the end the criminal turned out to be the son of Rhoda and Mr Lodge. Gertrude and Mr Lodge both die and Mr Lodge leaves his money to Rhoda. In 'The Withered Arm' there are a lot of different settings however in 'The Signalman' there is only one main setting. In both Hardy and Dickens's story there is a setting, which is 'isolated', quiet and away from everyone and everything. ...read more.

Conclusion

In 'The Withered Arm' and 'The Signalman' the theme is supernatural. In 'The Withered Arm' there is a good balance of narrative, description and dialogue. Hardy uses dialect because it was set in Dorset and this dialogue would have been used there in that time. Words like 'a' ready', 'tis' and 'ha'n't' where used in that period of time. 'The Withered Arm' uses different syntax as this is how it would have been used in the time it was set. For example 'he do bring home his bride tomorrow' would be written in this time as, he brings back his bride tomorrow. Hardy uses antiquated language typical of the period written in, Dickens also. Both writers make use of brackets much Dickens more than Hardy. In 'The Signalman' the signalman uses many rhetorical questions, showing that he could be nervous or scared of the spectre. I prefer 'The Withered Arm' as this is more interesting and is an easy story to read and understand. The storyline is better although there are more characters, settings, and relationships between people, which make it more interesting. 'The Signalman', I think is harder to understand although there are fewer characters, settings and relationships. Overall I think 'The Withered Arm' is the better of the two and I prefer it, as it is easy to understand. ...read more.

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