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A Comparison between the Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy and Odour of Chrysanthemums by DH Lawrence

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Introduction

A Comparison between the Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy and Odour of Chrysanthemums by DH Lawrence Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in Higher Bockhampton in Rural Wessex; he died in 1928. David Herbert Lawrence was born in 1885 in Eastwood near Industrial Nottingham, he died in 1930. Both Hardy and Lawrence wrote Novels, Short Stories and Poems frequently about lonely individuals, especially women. Lawrence's work illustrates what he was like as a person, deep-minded and genuine with extraordinary views to life. Hardy's work is often about troubled relationships between men and women which is also what a lot of Lawrence's work is based around. Both writers fell in love during their lives, Hardy married Emma Lovinia Gifford who unfortunately died suddenly in 1912, although Hardy married again in 1914 to Florence Dugdale, Gifford was the love of his life and he had his heart buried in her grave when he died. Lawrence fell in love with a woman named Jessie Chambers, he did not marry her though probably because of the dominating influence that his mother had over him. He eventually did marry, his wife was a German lady named Frieda von Richthofen. Another similarity is that both Hardy and Lawrence's work was heavily criticised. Critics said that Hardy's work was "pessimistic" with an "earthy realism" and "abstract philophizing". This resulted in Hardy to concentrate on writing poems instead of novels. In Lawrence's case, he was criticised for including a lot of graphic sex in his work and 1000 copies of one piece called "The Rainbow" was burnt in front of the magistrate. Soon after this he left England and became a wanderer for the rest of his life. Hardy came from a more stable background than Lawrence with his father being a stone mason and his parents caring for him, where as Lawrence's Father had the stressful and dangerous job of working down the mines and he also drank heavily. ...read more.

Middle

Clues about Rhoda Brook's relationship with farmer Lodge are suggested in an oblique way, so we only have partial knowledge. The way Hardy withholds information is part of his skill, it makes the reader wonder and want to know more about their relationship, making Rhoda a very intriguing character which the reader sympathises with increasingly throughout the story. The relationship in "Odour of Chrysanthemums" between Elizabeth Bates and her husband, Walter Bates is not very satisfactory. The reader, along with Elizabeth herself, realises as the story goes on that there was in fact no love in the relationship and they did not ever really know each other. There was simply a mechanical love, for the sake of the children. Walters's death allows her to finally see the true state of affairs: "There had been nothing between them, and yet they had come together, exchanging nakedness repeatedly...For as she looked at the dead man, her mind, cold and detached...I have been fighting a husband who did not exist." Her realisation of her marriage causes her to feel differently about her children, who she describes as "like ice in her womb". Elizabeth had to put up with the domestic work whilst her husband was enjoying himself in the pub and she particularly resented this, "She worked at her sewing with energy, listening to the children, and her anger wearied itself." She is proud and dominant, determined to never to lower her standards to accommodate him "What a fool she had been to imagine that anything had happened to him! He was merely drinking over there at the 'Prince of Wales'. She faltered. She had never yet been to fetch him, and she never would go." In "Odour of Chrysanthemums" There are definite contrasts between Elizabeth and her daughter, which results in a close relationship between the mother and daughter. This can simply be seen when the innocent child says "You've got a flower in your apron!' ...read more.

Conclusion

The surprise as the end is totally unpredictable and unanticipated, leaving the reader with the story still in mind for hours after reading it. Personally I did not really find the story line in "Odour of Chrysanthemums" very gripping because it was quite predictable, although I did find that Lawrence handled his characters, particularly Elizabeth Bates, very well albeit I preferred the way that Hardy kept switching the readers attention between the four main characters which really gave me an overview of what each character was feeling. I thought that Lawrence probably created the best sense of place by the use of such descriptive language but the pace was very slow, losing the readers attention quite rapidly. I feel that Hardy's strengths was his ability to create gripping plots and his skilful technique to withhold information from the reader, leaving them wanting to know more about the characters situations, relationships, past and present feelings. An example of this is near the end of the story when the reader does not know whether Gertrude knows the truth or not because of Hardy's narrative technique which forces the reader into Rhoda Brook's shoes and limits the reader to only the same information that Rhoda has. Hardy focuses the reader's attention in order to control the responses which I found remarkable. Hardy's main weakness was that it was hard for the reader to relate to his characters as they did not seem real obviously because of the super natural element to his story. But I found this to be one of Lawrence's strengths as his characters a lot more realistic as he used such descriptive language which makes the reader able to picture the setting and the characters distinctively. I thought that Lawrence's weakness was that the plot was not very gripping, especially when compared to Hardy, and the story started to drag out because of the slow pace. Hayley McKenna Page 1 of 7 ...read more.

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