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Consider the effects of class divisions on the characters in "The Withered Arm" & "The Son's Veto".

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Introduction

Consider the effects of class divisions on the characters in "The Withered Arm" & "The Son's Veto". When Thomas Hardy wrote "The Withered Arm" and "The Son's Veto" the times and the way people thought were very different from today. The economical and cultural differences between the higher and lower classes were much greater than today's, the rich had the power and were much more independent than the poor ones. These differences caused the upper class to treat without any respect at all the lower class, being hypocritical and snobbish towards the others. It is my impression that Thomas Hardy wrote these stories to expose and criticise the attitudes of the upper class. He probably suffered from being the son of a modest builder and was made to feel snubbed and maybe even mistreated. Focusing specifically on "The Son's Veto" and "The Withered Arm" we have clear examples of social prejudice; Randolph forbids his mother to marry Sam due to his low social class and Rhoda and Farmer Lodge do not marry due to their differences in within society even though they have a son. ...read more.

Middle

Neither Rhoda nor Sophy, can marry the one they love due to, as I wrote before, the prejudice of the community at large, and in particular the men who control their lives. Hardy tells the tales as objectively as possible, yet it is presumable that the author is sympathetic towards the victims of these short stories, as he as well was of modest origins. We can assume that Sophy (in "The Son's Veto") accepts Mr. Twycott's wedding proposal mainly for economical security , in fact marrying him would have, almost certainly, led Sophy to a wealthy life. The Son's Veto "Sophy did not exactly love him, but she had a respect for him that almost amounted to veneration. Even if she would have wished to get away from him she hardly dared refuse a personage so reverend and august in her eyes, and she assented forthwith to be his wife". It seems that she does not really love her husband but shows only respect towards him. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is another episode that demonstrates the prejudices between the social classes in The Withered Arm where Rhoda Brook and her son are extremely surprised by the friendly visit of Gertrude. Being Gertrude the wife of Farmer Lodge , a very honoured and important man, it was extremely unusual that rich people would even consider the working class. And yet, Gertrude, the wife of the most important and powerful man of the area paid a visit to a poor milkmaid and her son showing that not everyone was under that mentality, that some people used to also follow their heart. 'The Withered Arm' and 'The Son's Veto' show clearly the world that surrounded Thomas Hardy, a world he so despised based on social prejudice and hypocrisy. In writing these stories, I feel that he wanted to record for future generations the faults of the past and by doing so hoped that he could better his own present society. Marco Eman ...read more.

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