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Compare Charlotte Perkins Gilman's

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Compare Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "Turned" with Thomas Hardy's "A Withered Arm" The short stories "Turned" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and "The Withered Arm" by Thomas Hardy both have very different techniques and plots with which they aim to appeal to their audience. The opening of "The Withered Arm" immediately involves the reader. Adjectives are used to describe the initial setting, and so the image of the "eighty-cow dairy, and the troop of milkers, regular and supernumerary" becomes clear. Hardy's emphasis on close description helps develop the scene, such as the image of the "many-forked" pail stand "resembling a colossal antlered horn". This simile creates a vivid picture, and thus a rustic and country ambience is developed. "Turned" uses an alternative technique. Rather than introducing the scene and the cast of characters, as in "The Withered Arm", Gilman launches into detailed insights into one of the main characters. This allows the reader to be introduced to emotions rather than simply focussing on surroundings. The first line creates the picture of a "soft-carpeted, thick-curtained, richly-furnished chamber", but then moves to how Mrs Marroner lies sobbing" bitterly, chokingly, despairingly". This approach allows the reader to understand the characters at an earlier stage. The author of "Turned" addresses the setting in which her characters reside by using a pattern of adjectives to contrast their situations. The phrase "soft-carpeted, thick-curtained, richly furnished chamber ... wide, soft bed" is paralleled with "un-carpeted, thin-curtained, poorly furnished chamber ... ...read more.


The surplus adjectives serve to detract from the actions of Mrs Marroner, and make the plot seem contrived, and perhaps this is merely a ploy to put feminist ideas in the readers' minds. The unappealing quality of the writing is evident in the way the author provides very little suspense. For example, the author tells of the father of Gerta's baby through the trivial matter of the letter confusion, and this prevents the author using this scene to evoke mystery and intrigue. Both "Turned" and "The Withered Arm" primarily begin with illustrations of the consequences of betrayal. This is shown in the way that Mrs Marroner is "sobbing" and Gerta "confused with agony", and Rhoda is "thin" and "worn" with her house situated in a "lonely" spot. As both plots develop the cause of these circumstances become apparent, and this helps to generate sympathy for the women, and animosity towards the men. Attitudes towards the male characters are an important issue for readers in both accounts. In "The Withered Arm" the author shrewdly moulds the thoughts of the reader mainly through the consequences suffered by the women. Farmer Lodge is illustrated as a very shallow, superficial man. He has disowned Rhoda, and takes "no notice" of is son; instead he has traded them for "a woman, many years his junior". He has disregarded the moral implications of having a son, and whilst Rhoda lives in relative deprivation, he enjoys a plentiful existence. ...read more.


Rhoda is at first unwilling to be Gertrude's ally because Gertrude is her "successor", and yet she feels that "this innocent young thing should have her blessing and not her curse". As with Mrs Marroner and Gerta, Rhoda and Gertrude's companionship is formed through abnormal circumstances. The resilience of Gerta and Mrs Marroner is sternly portrayed in the ending of the short story. Mr Marroner seeks out his wife, expecting that "surely she would forgive him - she must forgive him", but instead of accepting his "honest remorse" she remains "definitely impersonal". Gerta's "adoring eyes" and now "fixed on her friend - not on him", showing that Mr Marroner has lost his influence on both lives. In the same way that Mr Marroner is now considered unimportant, Farmer Lodge suffers consequences of the way in which he acted towards Rhoda and Gertrude. Clearly the most shocking of these is Gertrude's death, and this effects him substantially. After sinking first into "moodiness and remorse" he eventually changes "for the better", which allows the reader to finally feel some pity for him. Whereas in "Turned" the women are illustrated as being very contented at the end, "The Withered Arm" is not as stylised. Rhoda returns to "her old parish" and continues to milk at the dairy "till her form" becomes "bent". With adjectives such as "sombre" and "impassive" a melancholy feel is created, and after the ending, the reader continues to ponder the impact of all the events. Jo Cordrey 11H 1 ...read more.

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