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A Discussion of the way Hardy's own life is reflected In his short stories.

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Introduction

A Discussion of the way Hardy's own life is reflected In his short stories. Thomas Hardy was one of the great writers of his time, producing novels such as 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' and 'Far from the Madding Crowd'. He is also renown for his short stories and poetry, which seem to all focus on women. In this essay I intend to analyse certain aspects of Hardy's life, and see how they are reflected in his writing. Thomas Hardy was born on the 2nd June, 1840 in Higher Bockhampton, and although this was only 160 years ago, the period in which he lived in was very different to the one we live in today. The social classes were extremely important; those from the upper classes did not socialise with those of lower classes. If they were to talk to them, they would use a different tone and manner. Hardy was from a lower class, but his grandmother was not and it was she, and Hardy's mother, who taught him to read and write. This enabled Hardy to write and become a respected author. He was able to used terms that impressed and captivated his reader, but he also had the insight of a working-class life. His stories seemed to involve much of this class difference, one of his characters either moved up a social status, or downward, and there would be social reaction to this change. The attitudes of people towards those of a different social class were clearly illustrated in his stories, and it is clear to see that Hardy's own personal experiences of this influenced the subject matter and characters in his stories. ...read more.

Middle

Hardy enjoyed the countryside life, and the people around him, which is the same as Sophy. She was happy at the beginning of the book when she was in the countryside with Sam. When Sophy moved to the city things started to go bad for her; she was lonely and isolated from people, and her condition became worse the longer she remained. When Sam visited her, she became a bit better: "Sam's presence had revived her: her cheeks were quite pink- almost beautiful." This shows that the city made Sophy very ill, but as soon as something from the countryside (Sam) comes into her life she feels a bit better. Thomas Hardy disliked the cities and he too suffered when he visited one for any length of time; when he spent time in London he became very ill. Hardy expressed his dislike of cities clearly and bluntly in this story, everything seems to go wrong when they are there, and Sophy is continually wishing that she could return to North Wessex where everything would be all right again: "I long for home- our home! I should like to be there, and never leave it and die there." Here Sophy expresses her feelings of loneliness and her desire to return to the countryside and try and start again. Emma Grifford, Hardy's wife, would also have had to spend a lot of time at home, looking out of the window, just as Sophy did, while Hardy was working in London. ...read more.

Conclusion

As Gertrude and Rhoda became friends, Gertrude showed Rhoda the disfigurement on her left arm: "There was nothing of the nature of a wound, but the arm at that point had a shrivelled look, and the outline of the four fingers" When Rhoda sees the wound she feels responsible, and tells Gertrude to go and see Conjuror Trundle, who was a conjuror who may be able to help her. The cure that the conjuror gives Gertrude is to turn her blood, the very same remedy that a woman, living in Hardy's village when he was growing up, had to do to get rid of a disease. The conjuror in 'The Withered Arm' was probably based on a conjuror called 'Planet-ruler' who Hardy's mother knew, and was said to have healed many patients. One piece of advice that has been passed on to writers for centuries is to 'write about something you know' and this is exactly what Thomas Hardy has done. He not only reflected situations and people he had encountered in his life, but he used them and twisted their lives to fit his stories. The realism and sense of true emotion, which is captured in Hardy's work, confirms that he did use people from his past, and successfully wove them into his plots to form fictional stories. In conclusion, it is clear to see how Thomas Hardy used people he knew and situations that actually happened to help him write short stories with realistic characters, but there is no way of telling how much of his stories are factual and how much an invention of his own imagination. By Sarah Buchanan-Brown ...read more.

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