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A comparison between "The Withered Arm" and "the Darkness Out There"

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A comparison between "The Withered Arm" and "the Darkness Out There" This assignment will be comparing "The Withered Arm", a pre twentieth century story set in 1819 - 1825 but written in 1888 with "The Darkness Out There", a Penelope Lively short story, written in the middle of Margaret Thatcher's reign as the prime minister of Great Britain in 1986. "The Withered Arm" is set in the deep countryside of Wessex (Wiltshire and Dorset). Mr Lodge's new wife Gertrude sparks jealousy from Rhoda Brook (Mr Lodge's ex-partner) and results in regret for Rhoda. Hardy's ironic twists throughout the story result in yet more tragedy for Rhoda and Mr Lodge. Is the mind really so powerful? "The Darkness Out There" is set in Clacton in Essex, with the attention focused on the evil of a nearby wood "Packers End". From the outset the "darkness" of the wood is present as Kerry and Sandra make their way to the home of Mrs Rutter, "Nether Cottage". The two gain experience during the story, inevitably helping them to grow up. They now see everything isn't as it seems; the darkness is out there. The darkness of the mind. The social and historical difference between the two stories greatly affects the comparisons. ...read more.


Another manner of character that displays similarities between the two women is the squeamish attitudes. Gertrude's squeamishness is conveyed when the idea of touching her arm on the neck of a hanged man to "turn the blood" is suggested by Conjuror Trendle. She is against this method of discarding the deformity on her arm and is "started a little at the image he had raised". Correspondingly Sandra squeamish about Packer's End and doesn't like to talk about it, due to the evil of death and rape associated with it. She avoids conversation about it with Mrs Rutter; she explains to Mrs Rutter that it "gives me the willies". Gertrude is a na�ve is innocent woman; this is shown from her belief that Rhoda's son is looking at them "in the hope we might relieve him of his heavy load, rather than curiosity". This is also displayed through the description of her being young looking. On the contrary Sandra is prejudiced and even though she does not know what Kerry is like as a person she turns against and decides she doesn't like him simply through his "black licked down hair and slitty eyes". ...read more.


Mrs Rutter sought revenge for her husband's death and so intentionally saw the injured Germans as an opportunity to do so. When realising the nationality of the men they "cheered. I can tell you". Although questioning whether to acquire help for the men or not her selfishness came through, turning her against the idea, "it was bucketing down", she felt her being warm and dry was more important than other people's lives. Whereas Rhoda Brook's revenge was apparent, yet wasn't intentional. When realising what she has done she is not experiencing satisfaction, shocked she thinks, "O, can it be". The two stories I have studied seemed to be completely different when first reading. Although, after looking at them in depth we are able to see how similar they actually are. Even though I have only identified thoughts and actions of the two main female characters in the story, it is the other characters that determine how we perceive the studied characters. Reactions to other characters in the story do this. I personally did not enjoy studying the two stories for the first time. However when re-reading them and realising their morals I am able to see how the morals are displayed and can appreciate the stories more. ...read more.

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