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

Discuss the Portrayal of Womenin 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas Hardy and 'The Fly Paper' by E Taylor

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the Portrayal of Women in 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas Hardy and 'The Fly Paper' by E Taylor The main characters in both 'The Fly Paper' by Elizabeth Taylor and 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas Hardy are women. These women come from everyday life and are set in the social settings of the writers' own times. Thus, the characters in 'The Withered Arm' come from Victorian rural England. Rhoda Brook is a poor milkmaid living with her son whose father is the farmer on whose farm she works. Whereas, the characters in 'The Fly Paper' come from Post War England, living a small town or village life. Sylvia is a dowdy, eleven year old on her way, by bus, to the suburbs of a nearby town for her piano lesson. In both of these stories, women are represented as having limited choices in life. Compared to men they have little power and depend on the actions of men and the opinions of others. In 'The Withered Arm' Rhoda is described as "a lorn milkmaid". Rhoda has been forsaken and made wretched by Farmer Lodge, who has ruined her by not marrying her. ...read more.


In the end, he is repelled by her withered arm. When Gertrude is first viewed by the milkmaids she is described as a "rosy-cheeked, tisty-tosty little body" who has drawn Farmer Lodge away from Rhoda who has born his son. Rhoda, on the other hand, is described as a "thin fading woman" and at only thirty years old it seems a little unfair! This shows how much looks matter. When Gertrude starts getting a withered arm Farmer Lodge rejects her, to her great dismay. She longs for her husband back, but instead of discussing with her husband the problems that she is facing with her arm,all she can think of to get him back is to regain her looks: "If I could only again be as I was when he first saw me." This idea is lodged in her head, to such an extreme, that she is led to rub her arm on the neck of a hanged man's corpse in a desperate attempt to cure her arm. In both stories, women are portrayed as swayed by fate - a force that they are both powerless to prevent. In 'The Fly Paper', Sylvia just seems to have a terrible fate. ...read more.


' " Rhoda feels that fate is in control and not she. The language used to decribe the dream is full of supernatural terms, such as "incubus", "spectre" and "phantom". Rhoda is up against the enormous powers of the unknown. In conclusion, women are shown in these strories as real, complicated people, whose feelings the reader can recognise and share. Sylvia's vividly described discomfort when she is "so hot and anguished" changes, in the course of the story, to actual terror. The reader is shocked by this and the terrifying fate that awaits such an ordinary, harmless girl. In 'TheWithered Arm', women gossip together, worry about their looks and are drawn together in the troubles of their lives. Rhoda forgives Gertrude and learns to appreciate her kindnesses, but she still has mixed feelings about her: " In her secret heart Rhoda did not altogether object to a slight diminution of her successor's beauty, by whatever means it had come about; but she did not wish to inflict upon her physical pain." This quote reveals Rhoda as a real person. As in 'The Fly Paper' both Rhoda and Gertrude suffer an appalling fate which they can do little to alter. By the end of the story, they have changed visibly. Their situation in life has become intolerable. The reader is left without hope, caught up in a totally pessimistic view of a woman's life. ...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

    The poor women probably wore ragged clothes, which were broken and torn. We can presume this because on pg.3 it says that Rhoda went up to the cottage that was made of mud walls. The more fortunate women wore "A white bonnet and a silver-coloured gown", just how Rhoda's son described Gertrude.

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

    that could be considered a lady's mount" This shows that women are so much weaker than men that they cannot ride the same horses. Trendle believes Gertrude will have trouble carrying out his instructions because he says they are "hard to carry out, and especially for a woman.

  1. In this assignment we will be comparing the leading female characters in Thomas Hardy's ...

    Scurridge gambles most of their money away. We see from the text that when they were newly married, they bought a house and were quite happy. Eventually though, the romance in their relationship disappeared and the house fell into disrepair.

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

    living in a closely bound community might perhaps have fared better...than this daughter of genteel perentage, who had been so coldly rejected and whose feelings were so totally left out of the count." In the last century and early this, the class you were born in to decided your whole lives.

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

    " Wherein she, with her bad grammar and her ignorance, would be an encumbrance to him." Randolph (the son) was always embarrassed and ashamed of his mother so consequently, as he got older, the divide between them widened. This is similar to what happened to the relationship between Gertrude and Farmer Lodge in " The Withered Arm".

  2. An Essay on The Withered Arm, by Thomas Hardy

    His use of words and description brings the dream to reality; making the reader feel as though they are experiencing it. When Gertrude reveals her 'left limb' to Rhoda, it forces Rhoda to make-believe that she is a witch. Our belief to whether Rhoda really is a witch is then

  1. In this assignment I am going to write about two stories, the Withered Arm ...

    She discovers while having a look at the boy that he is wearing torn up shoes, she tells him that she would come to visit him and his mother the next day and get him some new boots. "I'll come and bring you some better boots, and see your mother".

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

    She tries all sorts of treatment to cure it and nothing works, so she goes to Conjuror Trendle who tells her to put the arms on the neck of a freshly hung person. When Gertrude enters the room to do this, Rhoda is in there with her husband Farmer Lodge, it was her unwanted son that was hung.

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