• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss Hardy's Portrayal of Women in The Withered Arm

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Thomas Wingate (June 16 2001) The Withered Arm: Discuss Hardy's Portrayal of Women in The Withered Arm In The Withered Arm, Hardy portrays women in many ways, but principally both positively and negatively. In those times, in early Victorian England, women often were judged according to their beauty: thus, the prettier the girl (providing that she had a good family and breeding), the wealthier and more powerful man she would marry. This story was set in a rural English West Country area around 1850, when most women used to work under rough conditions and led a hard tiring life. If this short story were set in the 21st century, it would be very different because women's rights are respected more and women do not have to work under such hard conditions. In this story there are two women, Gertrude and Rhoda. Mr. Lodge had a son with Rhoda but then he left her for Gertrude who is a young beautiful lady. There is the presence of negative stereotypical images portrayed in The Withered Arm. ...read more.

Middle

Since the village in which this story took place was quite small (no more than 1000 inhabitants) gossip spreads very easily and very quickly, and eventually everybody would find out about a rumour. Probably the worst characteristic about women in this story is jealousy: we realize this when Rhoda asks her son to go and spy on Gertrude to see if she has "rough hands or soft white hands". Rhoda was very jealous because Gertrude essentially was her replacement. Life in those days was very boring and so, over generations, one can understand women and children inventing their own superstitions and witchcrafts. That is why Gertrude believed that she would be healed if she did what the Conjuror told her to do. Also, some women were accessories for men because men gave their wives all the economic stability that they needed; therefore they had to obey their husbands because they had legal and moral authority over them. The single women had to do all the work themselves. Women lacked economic independence because generally men had more education - even if little - and they possessed higher paying jobs. ...read more.

Conclusion

Interestingly, Hardy used pathetic fallacy in The Withered Arm. One example is when Gertrude was travelling to the wicket. She was tired and the day was horrible and the atmosphere around her reflected what she was feeling inside. The women are within and a part of their natural surroundings. Hardy repeats many times that women were objects to men and that they possess their own sense of determination to live as they wish to live. This repetition is used so that the reader understands the emphasis, namely, a key idea which the author is trying to transmit through the story. Thus, in this context, it is very interesting how Hardy blends the contrasts and the similarities of the two women. We may conclude that the working class women in the world of Hardy's tale were seen as child-bearers, invariably accessories for men. It would have been very different had this story been set in the 21st century. We do feel sympathy for these women rather than empathy because we have not gone what they have gone through. Not only that, life in those days was very different for women of different classes, and this economic distinction accentuates the different fates represented through their lives. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Thomas Hardy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Thomas Hardy essays

  1. Discuss Hardy's Portrayal Of Women In "The Withered Arm"

    When she leaves Rhoda's house it "seemed as if a light had gone from the dwelling". Hardy uses pathetic fallacy when Gertrude arrives in the village. She arrives "while the sun was yet bright". This repeated light imagery suggests that Gertrude is a good person who will bring light to the village.

  2. With close textual references to On the Western Circuit and The Withered Arm, explore ...

    All of these illustrate the scene as dismal, an emotion similar to what Rhoda was feeling as she awaits what the conjuror will unearth about the cause of Gertrude's withered arm. Also at the opening of part two in 'The Withered Arm' the 'darkened room' reflects Edith's solemn mood.

  1. Prose Study " The Withered Arm And Other Wessex Tales" By Thomas Hardy

    based on the way that Victorian people treated each other and the way that everyone looked on life. " The Withered Arm" and " The Son's Veto" are in third person, opposite to " Tony Kytes, The Arch Deceiver". " Tony Kytes, The Arch Deceiver" also varies a lot in

  2. A Comparison between the Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy and Odour of Chrysanthemums by ...

    The depressing picture that he forms here in the readers mind helps to emphasise the loneliness within the atmosphere. In Lawrence's "Odour of Chrysanthemums", the main character is Elizabeth Bates, we know that she is an determined women who will not let her husband smother her, she has pride and

  1. Discuss who suffers the most in Thomas Hardy's prose 'The Withered Arm.'

    state they lived in, in an articulate manner - ' it was built of mud-walls, the surface of which had been washed by many rains into channels and depressions that left none of the original flat face visible; while here and there in the thatch above a rafter showed like a bone protruding through the skin.'

  2. Discuss the portrayal of women in Hardy's 'The Withered Arm' and Lawrence's 'Odour of ...

    Additionally, Rhoda and Gertrude both experience the destructive influence of a man sometime during their lives, which is the main cause of their suffering and as a result, Rhoda is left to fend for herself as a social outcast. Rhoda's relationship with Farmer Lodge breaks down due to the social/historical

  1. How does Hardy encourage us to sympathize with Gertrude and Rhoda? Do you sympathize ...

    This makes you sympathize with her, because you admire the way she persists until the end, and that she looks after the boy on her own, despite the poverty she is in. Further evidence of her independence is when she refuses "to have anything to do with the provision made for her."

  2. Thomas Hardy: 'The Withered Arm' and 'The Son's Veto'.

    The son's are pivotal in both of the stories. In 'The Withered Arm' Rhoda's son bring her and Gertrude together, whereas in 'The Son's Veto' Randolph tears his mothers and his relationship apart. Randolph plays a much more important role in Sophy's life.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work