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Compare the presentation of the female characters in both Hardy’s ‘ The Withered Arm’ and Lively’s ‘The Darkness out there. To what extent does our knowledge of character heighten the impact of the horror and tragedy in the twists

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Introduction

Compare the presentation of the female characters in both Hardy's ' The Withered Arm' and Lively's 'The Darkness out there. To what extent does our knowledge of character heighten the impact of the horror and tragedy in the twists at the end? Although the two stories were written in different centuries there are many similarities particularly in the presentation of the female characters. The younger women ( Sandra and Gertrude Lodge ) are both presented with quite a stereotypical view of the innocence and purity of youth " Her face was ....... like the light under a heap of rose petals." (Gertrude Lodge) " She looked down at her own legs brushing through the ...polleny summer grass." (Sandra ). The younger women are both compassionate. Sandra is in a club that visits and helps the elderly and Gertrude Lodge gives gifts to people in the community who are needy. Both Sandra and Gertrude want desperately to fit in to society " They were all in the Good Neighbours' Club... it had become a sort of craze." Neither of the younger women have known any real tragedy in their lives and so are oblivious to the real evil in the world. ...read more.

Middle

Sandra and Gertrude both learn of the evil that everyone is capable, no matter how they may seem. When Sandra first meets Mrs. Rutter she just thinks she is a friendly but lonely old woman. " She seemed composed of circles, a cottage loaf of a woman .... creamy smiling pool of a face." This is a very stereotypical view of an old woman. Sandra is an idealist and does not believe that Mrs. Rutter could be capable of an evil act. The truth is that she is very wrong. " He was hurt pretty bad..... He called out something but I thought, oh no, you had this coming to you mate," In 'The Withered arm' Gertrude does not suspect that Rhoda Brooke or any person could be responsible for her ailment as she does not think she has enemies. Instead she blames the withered limb on the only evil that she can think of. " It is as though the Devil himself had taken hold of me there and blasted the flesh," Neither of the older women wish to cause harm to the younger women but it is beyond their control. ...read more.

Conclusion

" She walked through a world grow n unreliable in which flowers sparkle and birds sing but everything is not as it appears, oh no." ( Sandra) " The once blithe hearted and enlightened Gertrude was changing into an irritable superstitious woman." We pity all of the women in the stories. We pity the older women because of the tragedy that they have suffered in their lives and because of their isolation from society. In my opinion we feel more pity towards the younger women because their lives are changed forever and they have no control over this change. In the case of Gertrude Lodge the effect that Rhoda Brooke has on her leads to her premature death. Our knowledge of the characters greatly heightens the impact of the horror and the tragedy in the twists at the end. Because we know that the younger women both had good intentions ,were truly innocent and that the older women never had any intention of causing harm to the younger women but had no control over the situation. The younger women would never be able to forget that "The darkness was out there and it was a part of you and you would never be without it, ever." ...read more.

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