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Comparison of 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas Hardy and 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens

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Compare The Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Focus particularly on each writers' use of language and the way in which he deals with the supernatural. 'The Withered Arm' and 'A Christmas Carol' are both short stories written in the nineteenth century and both discuss the interesting genre of the supernatural. The stories both base their theme on the ghostlike activities as it was a very popular aspect at the time which was highly speculated. Many people were open minded to the fact that ghosts did exist as this provided explanations for happenings which they had no answer to. Diseases that doctors couldn't find a cure for was often blamed on the paranormal, for example the classic myth of witches. Both these stories delve into this insight in their own different methods. The main themes of the two stories are about that of the supernatural. However, they attack the supernatural element in different sides of the spectrum. For example, Charles Dickens makes out the supernatural to be a full bodily formed ghost when on the other hand; Thomas Hardy identifies the supernatural element to be related to someone's dreams and to do with curses. Though the stories are not similar in the way they interpret this genre, they both still capture the most popular conceptions the public had of the supernatural element. ...read more.


In 'A Christmas Carol', we are immediately introduced to the main protagonist of the story, Scrooge. However, in 'The Withered Arm', we are introduced to less important characters of the story, like the milkmaids. 'The Withered Arm' does not reveal much of the main theme in the introduction. Hardy does this in order to build up more tension. Alternatively, a lot of information is disclosed in the introduction of 'A Christmas Carol'. Dickens gives a vivid description of Scrooge and his character which gives us a vague idea of the main thesis of the short story. Short stories usually require an economy of words and focuses on only a few characters. Even though there are only a few characters, the main protagonists are normally described in detail as the short stories normally base their idea around this individual. In 'A Christmas Carol' the main protagonist is Ebenezer Scrooge. The whole story is revolved around him and how he changes from an old, greedy sinner to a generous, considerate and jovial man. Other important characters include the three spirits of his past, present and future as they cause the change in Scrooge. We are introduced to Scrooge as 'hard and sharp as flint' and 'solitary as an oyster' giving the impression that he was a very lonely and hard person. ...read more.


This is typical of Dickensian style writing. 'A Christmas Carol' is written in the third person using a narrator. Even though it is written in the third person, Dickens still makes us feel close to the characters by making the narrator like another person that is part of the story. In 'The Withered Arm', the sentence and paragraph length vary throughout the story. The longer paragraphs tend to fill in the gaps of time between each event, or are instead used as description. In this short story, Hardy uses a narrator and writes in the third person; almost he is distancing the reader away from the characters. The structure of both 'The Withered Arm' and 'A Christmas Carol' are very straight forward. 'The Withered Arm' is split into chapters, each chapter representing a new event that is about to occur in the story. Similarly, 'A Christmas Carol' is split into chapters, but instead, they are called staves, like in music, hence the novel being titled as a carol. The staves signify each of the main events of the story, which in this case is the appearances of the spirits. The climax of the 'The Withered Arm' is right towards the end of the book where all the unsolved issues are resolved. Likewise, the climax is near the end of 'A Christmas Carol' where Scrooge completes his metamorphosis and relinquishes the darkness in his heart. ...read more.

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