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

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Introduction

Withered Arm c/w Discuss who suffers the most in Thomas Hardy's prose 'The Withered Arm.' Thomas Hardy's prose 'The Withered Arm,' was written in the nineteenth century illustrating norms and values of the society, which were present where he was living. The society had particular beliefs, which wouldn't be rebelled against, and if they were, then the public would see the rebellious as an outsider and eschew them. The society was sensitive to people of different classes marrying each other and they shared the belief that any one with supernatural powers was a witch, thus superstition was a norm at the time. It was a patriarchal society thus men were able to remain free from being blamed by others as they were seen as being superior beings compared to women. Those who were of a high status also shared such an opportunity to remain free of accusations and being looked down upon as they were people of society who were abiding by the norms and values of the time. In Thomas Hardy's prose 'The Withered Arm' various characters suffer due to different circumstances. In the prose, the four main characters suffering are Farmer Lodge, Gertrude, Rhoda and her son. Farmer Lodge suffers, as he was involved in a relationship in the past with Rhoda. Gertrude suffers due to her getting a withered arm as a result of Rhoda Brooks dream. Rhoda suffers for a number of reasons which shall be discussed further on. The youngest of those suffering is the son due to him being accused of arson resulting in him being hanged. Apart from those reasons listed above, there are also a number of other reasons, which I will discuss in turn further on. To summarise, Rhoda and Farmer Lodge had a relationship, which resulted in an illegitimate child, the son. However, the two weren't able to marry, as the society at the time, wouldn't have accepted people of different classes marrying each other. ...read more.

Middle

The significance of such a mood is that Hardy creating a dismal one allows the reader to imagine the feeling apparent at the time and the way in which it was a reflection on Rhoda's thoughts. This in turn makes the reader sympathise with Rhoda as she was feeling uneasy deep within. Rhoda feels anxious when speaking to Gertrude because she doesn't want to have to go to conjuror Trendle - ' well they say - they used to say he was - he had powers other folks have not.' Hardy uses hyphens to show a slight pause in Rhoda's speech, which illustrates her reluctance in her speech. This suggests Rhoda is made to remain within certain boundaries of speech as she can't speak the way she herself desires as she fears Gertrude may suspect her of being the one behind the suffering she is undergoing. Rhoda doesn't only suffer financially but also psychologically, as we see she suffers sleepless nights due to the thoughts she has about the recent marriage, which took place between Gertrude and Rhoda. Rhoda suffers the most because she had to undergo hardships whilst being shunned by society before her son's death. She also had to experience more remorse after his death, as she no longer has a son. Farmer Lodge suffers, yet his suffering isn't seen as vast. This is because he was a man in the society and one of great eminence - hence he wouldn't be looked down upon as men at the time were seen as superior beings in comparison to women. Farmer Lodge being the man in the relationship and of a high status had the advantage of being able to maintain his honour in the society and remain innocent in the eyes of the public, due to him fitting into the category the society would admire rather than shun him. His suffering is limited as he was suffering less compared to Rhoda, after their relationship. ...read more.

Conclusion

Her intentions weren't satisfied as the turning of the blood went too far resulting in her death. This creates sympathy within the reader towards Gertrude as her attempt to cure didn't go as expected and she was made to be a victim of someone else's envy. On the whole, Gertrude suffers in attempting to cure her withered arm. Yet, her suffering comes to an end thus she doesn't have to suffer any longer, hence her suffering is less in comparison to Rhoda's. Rhoda suffers the most because her suffering is from the inauguration and remains as a ceaseless suffering. Farmer Lodge doesn't suffer more than Rhoda as he is a man hence society wouldn't look down upon him. Gertrude doesn't suffer more than Rhoda as her suffering isn't perpetual nor does the general public shun her. The son doesn't suffer more than Rhoda as he wouldn't be spoken of much in society, rather his mothers name would be mentioned. The fact that Rhoda was poor, a woman, a lone parent, working for herself all made her oppose the norms of society, resulting in her being seen as an outcast. Some may say Rhoda is the cause of all that which occurs after her relationship with Lodge. Yet, I would disagree as her revenge against Gertrude wasn't that she was aware of nor was she aware of her supernatural powers. Overall I believe Rhoda is the character suffering the most. Thomas Hardy portrays Rhoda as the one undergoing difficulties the most, thus the readers' sympathise with Rhoda far more than they do with Gertrude, the son and Farmer Lodge. The main reason behind why Rhoda suffers the most is because Gertrude and the son's suffering comes to an end and Farmer Lodge doesn't suffer a great deal due to his position in society. On the other hand, Rhoda is suffering continuously throughout the prose, from the beginning to the end and her suffering is inevitable and perpetual. Zara Choudary Year 11 1 ...read more.

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