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

Hardy and Hill both present the reader with female characters who are isolated and ostracized by society. Compare and contrast the ways in which both writers deal with these themes.

Extracts from this document...


Jennifer Hardie. 11H. Hardy and Hill both present the reader with female characters who are isolated and ostracized by society. Compare and contrast the ways in which both writers deal with these themes. Susan Hill and Thomas Hardy are clearly both interested in the role of women and their position in society. The female protagonists, in `I'm the King of the Castle and `The Withered Arm', are insecure as they lack a man to provide them with social status and respect. As a consequence of their troubled pasts, they are rejected from society, and are both left vulnerable and desperate. Helena Kingshaw represents a certain class of women in post-war England, the setting for Susan Hill's novel, who found themselves lacking the emotional and financial support of a man. The superstition in those days left these genteel, unskilled women in a shameful position. Society rejected those spurned by men and many became objects of gossip of a malicious nature. Similar nonsensical teachings in Victorian times, the setting for `The Withered Arm', also left abandoned women, such as Rhoda Brook, viewed as social outcasts. Thomas Hardy is clearly sympathetic to such women, especially those reaching the stages of their lives where he suggests, through a careful adjective selection "worn", they may be becoming desperate for a husband. He seems to consider them as isolated victims of the stereotypical image of women as a possession, classed by looks and fortune, and his novel exposes the hypocrisy in society. ...read more.


In `I'm the King of the Castle' it is frowned upon for a woman, with the status of housekeeper, to wear make-up and dress up. As in `The Withered Arm' this is because a woman's dress sense reflected their position in society. We see how the Farmer Lodge's pretty wife's wealth gives her the right to wear, "a silver coloured gown". On the other hand, the affect a woman's appearance on the male protagonists of each novel is different in that Hooper's opinion of her looks seems relatively insignificant to how he had been "impressed by the graceful letters of Mrs. Helena Kingshaw." Whereas, Gertrude was worried about her disfigurement because in `The Withered Arm', "men think so much of personal appearance." Both writers also convey to the reader how lack of status generates a fear within the women to change from their set principles. We notice this in Kingshaw's displays of stereotypical motherly affection and more subtly in Brook, through her indignancy when her son suggests she goes to see her successor; "I, go to see her!" The two women are forced into these ways of dealing with their isolation by their shared insecurity. Their two different ways of coping both have their drawbacks: Kingshaw is so busy trying a good impression and secure her future with Kingshaw that she cannot form a proper relationship with her son. ...read more.


On the other hand, 'The Withered Arm' is set over a much longer period of time and informs the reader of ill-feeling towards Rhoda from outside the immediate circle of protagonists. Through these very different structures, Hardy and Hill both create an increasing sense of doom for the two female protagonists. The absence of love in both characters' lives undermines their confidence and relationships, resulting in isolation. Warings reinforces the theme of isolation as it is completely set apart from events in the normal world and, as in `The Withered Arm', the accumulation of hostile imagery of the surrounding countryside further emphasises their loneliness and vulnerability. In both novels the main requirement of women was dynasties, so those rejected by men were despised and ostracized from society. This put both Brook and Kingshaw lacking status and in a very pitiable position. Nevertheless, due to the way the two writers deal with the themes of isolation and ostracization of the female protagonists, as a reader I never felt for Kingshaw quite the sympathy I did for Brook. As Hill presents Helena Kingshaw as so shallow a character, we feel so much anger at her dismissive attitude to her son that it is almost as though she deserves anything. By contrast, Hardy deliberately presents Rhoda Brook, "her red eyes weeping", as a more pitiful character who seems much more the victim of her bad luck. ...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 Susan Hill 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 Susan Hill essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How does Susan Hill use Gothic techniques to create tension and horror in the ...

    5 star(s)

    The novel is in his opinion, which makes it easier for the reader to relate to the character, as well as provoking a feeling of empathy. As events are told from the present, looking back to the past, the narrator knows how the story will end, yet the reader obviously does not.

  2. The King of the Castle Character Assessment Joseph Hooper.

    Susan Hill sees Kingshaw as 'misfits', distanced from his mother and unable to form relationships. He is 'not normal' but he is an innocent young boy, who has done nothing do deserve the resentment he is going through presently. Kingshaw is also like the over sensitive prey.

  1. Looking in detail at ‘The Woman in Black’explore how Susan Hill builds and sustains ...

    He thinks that they were ghosts. The reader can tell this after reading the last paragraph on page 81. Tension levels start to increase again when Mr Kipps is back at the Gifford Arms. When he is getting ready for bed, he thinks why Keckwick came back to get him.

  2. How does Susan Hill evoke feelings of anxiety and fear in the reader?

    he starts to write in the present tense explaining how he could hardly bring himself to write about the next event, "I could scarcely bring my self to write about it." This is effective to the reader because throughout the whole story, he never came into the present tense.

  1. Can Hooper be seen as anything other than Evil? A comparative Essay on 'I'm ...

    them, so when Hooper finds this out, during the night he wrote a note to Kingshaw saying 'Something will happen to you, Kingshaw' The very next morning Kingshaw gets up after reading this note thinking that he knew 'what to do'.

  2. Marble Hill House.

    According to the portrait, source B is a very accurate view of Henrietta Howard. But this source cannot be used on its own to make accurate judgements about Henrietta Howard so source B, the poem by Alexander Bell, is a useful accompaniment because it supports many of the points which

  1. How Well Is The Past Interpreted At The Blists Hill Museum?

    It was all overgrown with grass and some parts could not be made out. It also had a ventilation shaft not far away from it and that too had been filled in to stop people falling in. The Bell pit had a narrow shaft which the windlass or the cages would be used.

  2. Explore how isolation is used by the authors Hill and Golding in their respective ...

    Hill immediately indicates Kingshaw lower class, upon his introduction describing the sky as ?the colour of dirty sixpences? ? I feel this is interesting on two notes, perhaps the six pence is an indication of Kinghaw?s lower class because a sixpence was of little value, or equally the ?dirty colours?

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