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

    a benefactor of higher social standing. If she was truly her friend, she surely would have confessed the truth.

  1. Compare 'A Stench of Kerosene' by Amrita Pritam and 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas ...

    Manak's mother is older then Guleri and being Manak's mother, she can control their lives and even Manak is unable to stand up to her. In that society wife occupies a lower position than a men and his mother, and they have no right to protest, fight against her husbands decision.

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

    The climax of the story occurs when we discover the hangman is Farmers and Rhoda's son. This is ironic as the farmer and Rhoda are reunited at their son's death. It is what Rhoda wanted in the beginning, she wanted the Farmer to love and admire her and not his

  1. Wider reading Course Work - “The Woman in Black” and “The Withered arm.”

    Mr Loge didn't acknowledge Rhoda's son as his own and spent many years ignoring her and his son. Mr Lodge married a young girl, Gertrude who Rhoda loathed for taking Mr Lodge from her. Rhoda still loved Mr Lodge and I think she never lost faith in him and believed

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

    withered (supposedly inflicted by Rhoda after a supernatural dream), distorting her physical beauty. However, has it really? Or is it just that their perception of beauty is distorted by the bindings of a proper Victorian marriage. Gertrude then is no longer Lodge's perfect wife and their marriage is lost for

  1. Compare and contrast the two stories, "The Outsiders and "The Withered arm", and show ...

    not to be believed - that the young wife, in the pale silk dress and white bonnet, but with features shockingly distorted, and wrinkled as by age, was sitting upon her chest as she lay. The pressure of Mrs Lodge's person grew heavier; the blue eyes peered cruelly into her

  2. Explain about the role of women in Victorian society.

    This story is about a man called Randall and his girlfriend Dorothea whom he was going to marry her after he had come back from his journey. When Randall was leaving upsetting but he had to leave but he would come back as soon as possible.

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