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Examine the portrayal of the relationship between the sexes in the short stories of Chopin and Hardy.

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Introduction

Examine the portrayal of the relationship between the sexes in the short stories of Chopin and Hardy. We have read a collection of short stories by Thomas Hardy and Kate Chopin. Thomas Hardy, born on June 2, 1840, reflected in his work, his enduring pessimism and sense of tragedy in human life. His novels bravely challenged many of the sexual and religious conventions of the Victorian age, and dared to present a bleak view into human nature. Kate Chopin, born on July 12, 1850, was a feminist and risked getting bad reviews, as at that time it was unusual for women to write about such matters. She based most of her short stories about her life and its problems. In the short story of 'D�sir�e's Baby' by Kate Chopin, the main character, D�sir�e, is a young girl who has just had a baby with her husband Armand. D�sir�e is a young mother as it says: 'Why, it seemed but yesterday that D�sir�e was little more than a baby herself.' This is supported when Chopin describes D�sir�e 'to be beautiful and gentle, affectionate and sincere'. When Armand, a rich wealthy slave owner, falls in love with D�sir�e, Chopin uses the simile 'as if struck by a pistol shot' which shows how sudden and powerful his love was for D�sir�e. Nobody in reality compares being shot by a pistol to falling in love, which could reflect how passionate is the love that he has for Desiree. ...read more.

Middle

And 'Yes, I want you to go.' At the end of the short story Armand discovers a letter, and throughout his life, he had demonstrated great dislike of coloured people. When, in actual fact, he himself was coloured! In "The Withered Arm", by Thomas Hardy there are two main female roles: Gertrude Lodge and Rhoda Brooks. Gertrude, at the start of the story, shows a certain amount of confidence and independence. Rhoda's son says about Gertrude she is 'growed up, and her ways be quite a woman's'. She takes her responsibilities seriously and her role as Farmer Lodge's wife is an important one in the village. At that time, it was common for the landlord's wife to take care of the parishioners and Gertrude seems to fulfil this function competently. This side of Gertrude changes though, when Farmer Lodge starts to lose interest in her when she gets the withered arm. Here we see the effects of the value judgements of society, which dictates that a woman is defined by her appearance and most especially by her ability to be physically attractive to men. Gertrude starts to lose emotional independence. Feeling that she has become unattractive to Farmer Lodge, - 'he loves me less' - she becomes obsessed with getting rid of the withered arm and therefore winning back his love. ...read more.

Conclusion

Women's' subservience to men is also shown in the text. Gertrude fears Farmer Lodge so much that 'the fear of her husband's anger made her reluctant to breathe a word'. Overall in both, Chopin's "D�sir�e's Baby" and Hardy's "The Withered Arm", they portray women as the inferior role, almost as if they are only there for the men to do with, as they please, like an ornament. Women are not treated as well as they should have been or with the respect that they deserve. Considering they were both written in the nineteenth century and it was unusual for men to stick up or be sympathetic towards women. Hardy seemed really sympathetic towards them and was always saying how hard women's life and role actually was, he seemed to almost understand how women feel and how they ought to be treated. Chopin, almost did the same, as she was also sympathetic towards women, but she as she was a woman herself, most people found it strange about her style of writing and found it unrealistic. She was a feminist trying to improve the women's role in society. But in both of the short stories, the women play both parts, as inferior to men but also as the strongest character mentally, as they usually came out on top of the men. ?? ?? ?? ?? English Literature Course Assignment Pre-1914 Prose Comparing the Short Stories of Kate Chopin and Thomas Hardy Lynzi Best 10.2 ...read more.

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