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Compare and contrast the three characters showing how their personalities and lives are similar and how they are different - How do the lives of all three women differ from those of women today?

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Introduction

Both 'The Withered Arm' and 'The Distracted Preacher' have important female characters- Rhoda, Gertrude and Lizzy. Compare and contrast the three characters showing how their personalities and lives are similar and how they are different. How do the lives of all three women differ from those of women today? 'The Withered Arm' is a story about a woman whose arm becomes withered. She believes that a woman in the village has inflicted this injury upon her, and she spends all her time trying to find a cure using whatever methods she can. 'The Distracted Preacher' is about a preacher who lodges in a woman's house. They fall in love, but things become complicated when he discovers she is involved with smuggling. The three women all have very distinctive lives and take up different roles in each of the stories. Rhoda is a milkmaid who has a son, by her employer, Farmer Lodge, but they are no longer together. She lives a very secluded life, and rarely talks to anyone but her son. Gertrude is quite young, very pretty, and married to Farmer Lodge, although she knows nothing of his previous relationship with Rhoda or of their son. She is very kind hearted, 'She gives away things to other folks in the meads' (p.9) Lizzy has no real trade, although she takes in lodgers, her main source of income is smuggling, she uses this money, to support her and her mother. ...read more.

Middle

For instance Gertrude and Lizzy are both very beautiful, Gertrude has a, 'face as comely as a live doll's' , 'her mouth is very nice and red; and when she smiles her teeth show white.' , 'She's lovely' (p.5,6). Lizzy is an, 'extremely well made young woman' , she has 'a beautiful forehead' , and, 'eyes that warmed him before he knew it' (p.88-9). Whereas Rhoda is just described as, 'a thin fading woman of thirty' (p.1). They are all however in different positions, as far as marital status is concerned. Rhoda isn't married, but had at one time had some sort of relationship with Farmer Lodge, we know this because she has a son by him. Gertrude is married to Farmer Lodge, but has no children, and Lizzy, isn't married, but has had at least two husbands previously, she does however have Mr Stockdale as her lover, and they do eventually get married. They are all similar, in that they are all independent, however if you look more closely you will see that they have all achieved different levels of independence. Rhoda, in my opinion is the least independent because, although she lives on her own and is raising a son by herself, she hasn't chosen to be that way, and only copes with that because she has to. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lizzy judging by her character would probably have a job other than the smuggling, which she would probably have given up, because of the stricter laws now. I feel quite differently about Lizzy compared to the other two women. I feel that she is altogether not a particularly nice person. She leads Stockdale on, to believe that they were going to get married, even though she had no intention of giving up smuggling. If she had really loved him, she would know he was too good and honest to give up his profession for a life of smuggling. Although they did get married in the end, it was only because she was forced to give up smuggling, 'the trade is gone to nothing. We were hunted down like rats.' (p.148). I feel fairly indifferent towards Rhoda and Gertrude, as although I feel sympathetic towards both of their situations, Rhoda's exclusion from society, and Gertrude's arm. Rhoda vividly pictured inflicting a wound on someone, which appeared to have some effect, even though she had never met her and her only reason being jealousy. Gertrude, in a desperate attempt to cure her arm, doesn't care who has to die to make her better, '"O Lord, hang some guilty or innocent person soon!"' (p.23). Although these acts were extremely selfish, both these incidents involved very desperate women, and in their positions you can't tell what you would do or feel. For these reasons I am very sympathetic towards them. ...read more.

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