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A study of 'Tony Kytes, the Arch Deceiver' by Thomas Hardy and 'The Oakum Room' by Theresa Tomlinson.

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Introduction

THOMAS HARDY & THERESA TOMLINSON RAISE SIMILAR ISSUES BUT IN DIFFERENT WAYS. A study of 'Tony Kytes, the Arch Deceiver' by Thomas Hardy and 'The Oakum Room' by Theresa Tomlinson. 'The Oakum Room' by Theresa Tomlinson is clearly a feminist story where the female characters stand up for themselves and unite in protest. At first reading, 'Tony Kytes the Arch Deceiver', instead seems to mock women, portraying them as weak, desperate and gullible. Although, upon re-examining we see that Tony does not have a flattering description either, giving us the impression that Hardy may not have been as chauvinistic as he first appeared. Both short stories are about a man choosing a wife and the power he has over the women when doing this. In each the man attempts to choose a woman from a selection and the women have no say in the matter. However, the women in 'Tony Kytes the Arch Deceiver' appear to be quite manipulative as they are in competition and it is often difficult to decide who is being more devious, Tony or the girls. Tony seems to be less in command of the situation than any of the women, as he is continually acting on impulse. ...read more.

Middle

Theresa Tomlinson's women learned that fighting and competition was not the answer and so bound together at the climax, refusing the "generous" offer of a new life, as it was the opposite of what society, especially men assumed and wanted them to do. By doing this, each woman rediscovered some pride and so does not feel regret. The climax focuses on Polly as she had the hardest choice, yet even she managed to rebel against the system. In 'Tony Kytes the Arch Deceiver' none of the women attempts to rebel and so the situation is left for the rules of society to sort. For example Hannah would have gladly said yes to Tony Kytes's proposal, however, her father stepped in at the last moment and ordered her not to. According to society Hannah could not disobey her father and so had to decline the offer. Tony then asked Unity but she had to regrettably decline also out of pride, dignity and self-respect. This of course left Tony to ask Milly who had been his original choice and had no reason to refuse, as it was obvious he would eventually marry one of them. Upon close examination it is clear that both stories aim to show the wrongness of society. ...read more.

Conclusion

'The Oakum Room' was written by a female author in the late 20th century when women are more confident after the fight for the rights which society did not give them. However, the story was set in the 19th Century so that Theresa Tomlinson could make the point that women have always been treated the same but can always be strong no matter when or where they are. She gives the women in her story attitudes, which stem from her own personal attitudes in the 20th Century. In contrast 'Tony Kytes the Arch Deceiver' was written by a man in the 19th Century when each sex had a set role. As men ultimately had the upper hand Thomas Hardy had no obvious cause for complaint, so does this mean he was a feminist writer? Thomas Hardy could have written 'Tony Kytes the Arch Deceiver' to show that society makes everyone, including men, act stupidly. He could see how society turns one person against the other and so took advantage of this and turned it into a comical story. Perhaps his reason for decribing the women superficially as stereotypes of manipulative yet weak and gullible wiles was so that the majority of his readers and critics (mostly male at the time) would not react badly to his work. Ellen Taylor 10E English Coursework 1 ...read more.

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