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Explore how women are presented by Thomas Hardy in The Sons Veto, The Withered Arm and Tony Kytes, the Arch Deceiver.

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Introduction

Prose Study: Thomas Hardy Explore how women are presented by Thomas Hardy in 'The Son's Veto', 'The Withered Arm' and 'Tony Kytes, the Arch Deceiver'. Thomas Hardy found himself amidst the rigid class system popular in Victorian England. Within a society dominated by men, Hardy is able to see past the stereotypes of the time and empathise with the plight of not only different classes, but most commonly, the problems women faced. His stories carried a recurring theme; women from different backgrounds attempting to remove the straight jacket that the attitudes within their society have forced upon them. At this time in history, women were perceived as having a diminutive purpose with little independence. The restrains of society can clearly be seen through Sophy's character in 'Son's Veto'. This story tells the tale of a young parlour maids journey through life at this point in history. Hardy describes her as a 'young invalid lad sitting in a wheeled chair.' as a result of an accident in her youth. It was this accident that first sparked Mr Twycott's interest in the young Sophy. Sophy was a lady in every sense of the word - except the home she was born into: a complete women but not polished and refined as middle class ladies were expected to be at the time. 'Sophy the women was a charming a partner as a man could possess, though Sophy the lady had her deficiencies.' Victorian England's society meant that people were often more interest in were you were from and your image within society, rather than the person themselves. Sophy married the Vicar out of respect for him - not love. We begin to wonder whether Sophy views marriage as a matter of convenience and that those feelings for someone would grow over time. She is more concerned over her future and knows that any marriage would mean that she would have a home and a good lifestyle in the imminent years. ...read more.

Middle

He has so much control in the relationship that she does not know how to tell him she wishes to remarry, and then explain who Sam is. She is constantly putting this off and postpones the inevitable, giving a slight moral to the story. She has to risk losing what little claim she could lay upon her son and if he disagreed with her choice, 'could she defy him?' Did Sophy have the courage to go through with what her heart was telling her anyway? When Sophy finally finds the valor to tell her son of her thoughts, he is initially welcoming of the idea and questions the status of the man she has chosen. Sam is a gentleman in every meaning of the word except the one that mattered to Randolph - his background. The Degree of humiliation from her son is shocking. His spoilt nature comes through as a first reaction: thinking about the effects on himself, his reputation and nothing about his mother's feelings. Sophy is a patient woman and continues to try to change his mind. He then degrades her further by taking her to kneel in front of an alter and 'swear that she would not wed Samuel Hobsen without his consent.' Randolph begins to treat Sophy as his property and even goes as far as to put his father's name to his actions. 'I owe this to my father!' Hardy has included an insult at the church here as the father was a vicar and should want happiness for all - but Randolph insinuates that reputation and class would have been more important to him. By this point, Randolph feels superior and 'his education had by this time sufficiently ousted his humanity.' Randolph over powers Sophy both physically and mentally, resulting in her sacrificing her happiness to respect the wishes of her son. On one hand, Sophy is an extremely weak when she is in and around the middle class society - whether this is her husband Mr. ...read more.

Conclusion

By the end of the story, we feel a great deal of anger towards Tony because of the way he is treating Milly. Our sympathy is with Milly; however this could have been influenced by the use of a narrator as the used there own opinions when telling the story. Each of the three women I have chosen have experienced a failing relationship due to society's view of class, a woman's role and the way children were brought up. They were all viewed somewhat negatively by their local community: Sophy for marrying the Vicar; Rhoda for having a child out of wedlock and Milly for still accepting to marry someone who didn't respect her as an individual. Hardy's stories centre on the disadvantaged and his is always able to explore the nature of varying characters. He thought about ways in which the humans were downtrodden, or raised to be more than they were in late Victorian England. Many of the themes and troubles he wrote could be considered timeless and I feel that Hardy was trying to break barriers between class, gender and other stereotypical views in an effort to show people that taking the individual as a whole is more important. Every person has 'value' wherever they come from or whatever they believe in. Modern England sees women granted all of these opportunities and more which Hardy would have applauded, but do these choices and freedoms make us happier, or simply make life more complicated? In my opinion, some of those stereotypes from the Victorian Era still exist amongst today's society; however with all of the choices available nowadays, these stereotypes have become disguised. I also believe that we cannot judge somebody else's happiness so nobody will ever be sure if these choices and freedoms have made them happier individuals. Despite this, life for women has improved greatly, but there are new factors which affect their lives and make them appear to still be downtrodden individuals. Jaspreet Sagoo BGr ...read more.

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