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An exploration of presentation of female characters in 3 short stories by Thomas Hardy. What does this tell a modern audience about society of the time and the role of women.

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Introduction

An exploration of presentation of female characters in 3 short stories by Thomas Hardy. What does this tell a modern audience about society of the time and the role of women. The purpose of this essay is to explore the way in which Tomas Hardy portrayed women in his stories. And to see what this tells a modern audience about society of the time and the role of women. I have studied three of Thomas Hardys short stories; The Son Veto, The Withered Arm and The Distracted Preacher. All these stories where set in the rural county of Wessex. A county mad up by Thomas Hardy himself. They all feature women as the pivotal characters i.e. the catalyst of the story, the story wouldn't work if they weren't in it. All three of the stories feature strong independent women that are dominated by men. (Sophy Twycot, Rhoda Brook and Lizzie Newberry) this fits strongly with the idea of the time that women should bow down to men and do as they are instructed. The Withered Arm One of the stories we studied is "The Withered Arm". This features Rhoda Brook. A single mum living with her son as the pivotal character. Rhoda son is from Farmer Lodge who Rhoda works for as a milkmaid. From the very beginning you realise that Rhoda has been rejected from the rest of the milkmaids and even the rest of the villagers. ...read more.

Middle

the same social status as her. Many years past and sophys husband dies but leave's her a small house in central London. By this time Randolph is grown up at is at university. Sophy desperately wants to move back to her village to be with Sam. But Randolph wont let her. This is a major example of her being dominated by men. One-day sophy is looking out the window when she sees a figure that look likes Sam going past in a van. Over time she speaks to him and accompanies him on a trip to Covent Garden market. This is a total change in sophys personality. Its as if she is young again. He asks her to come back home with him to help run a village shop that he owns. She desperately wants to but she can't because she thinks she will loose her son. Sophy ends up dieing a very unhappy lady. When sophy was younger she was a big flirt and enjoyed the company of men. But as time went on and she got married she became very withdrawn from the community. When she meets Sam again you she a change in her personality. She becomes flirtatious again and acts like a teenager would. Sophy is the catalyst of the story because it revolves around her and it wouldn't work without her in it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also Farmer Lodge gave Rhoda a job and left her money to look after their son. Also when he dies he left her some money but she refused to take it. I think that most men would've have thought she deserved everything she got. On the other hand women would've had sympathy for both of the women. "The Distracted Preacher" is totally different though. I think both men and women would have respect for the determination for Lizzie. Modern readers Modern readers would have a totally different opinion on the women and in the way that they acted. I am a modern reader and even though I think that they should've been grateful for what the men did for them they should've stuck up for themselves more. They shouldn't have let the men in the stories dominate their lives. They should've been more like Lizzie and should've known what they wanted form their lives. Conclusion Thomas Hardy portrays women in many different ways during the stories. He gives the audience a good idea of how women were viewed at the turn of the centaury. Women were meant to do as they were told and show respect towards their husband. All of the stories show the social divide between the higher and lower class people. Thomas hardy presents women with a lower status in life to men. Hardy tries to make women seem, as they should be equal to men. He does this by making the audience feel sorry for his female characters. ...read more.

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