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How does Hardy show social injustice in the 19th Century in England?

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Introduction

GCSE Pre 1914 Prose Assignment How does Hardy show social injustice in the 19th Century in England? Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 and died in 1928 at the age of 88. Thomas Hardy's father was a stonemason and his mother a servant to a vicar. Hardy could not afford to continue his education as he wished and was apprenticed to John Hicks, a local church architect from 1862 to 1867. He served as assistant to Arthur Bloomfield, a London architect. Hardy hated London and returned to Dorset and worked for Hicks until 1874. Despite his employment Hardy was writing continually during this period of life. Over the next 22 years Hardy wrote 15 novels, more than 1000 poems and 4 volumes of short stories. Hardy wrote in these short stories about the law, class difference, women's position in the society and city versus the countryside. Most of his stories are set in the Wessex, a fictional name that he gave to his stories. His stories are set 50 years back in the past and show the hardships, sufferings, trials and tribulations experienced by the working class. This book is from the collection of the stories The Withered Arm and other Wessex Tales. ...read more.

Middle

People covered long distances to watch the hanging scenes. Many people went to the hangings, "Spectators had gathered," and "multitudes of babble of their voices". Many people go as we go to the cinemas. Hardy always shows his main characters to be in distress in his stories. The characters in his stories suffer for no fault of theirs. Hardy believes that there is a malignant power present in nature which is out to thwart and hinder what made has proposed to do. His main characters are the victims of fate. Hardy was conscious of his poor class origins and modest education. The awareness to social rank and class difference in the society remained with him throughout his life and is present in his writings. Many of his stories are about the harmful effects of the idea of class system and social position. In The Son's Veto Sophie's son treats her mother as if she is disrespectful, worthless and is irritated by her. She speaks in a strong dialect and her son corrects her "Has, dear mother - not have!' exclaimed the public schoolboy, with an impatient fastidiousness that was almost harsh." ...read more.

Conclusion

She brings him no child and fails as a wife. Hardy deals with different types of injustices in The Withered Arm and other Wessex Tales. The injustices suffered by the characters are of different nature and are well put together. Some people are hanged for no fault of theirs but nobody cares. When there is no fair distribution of wealth in the society so many evils arise. Some people are very rich others are very poor in as much as poor people are forced to adopt illegal methods of earning their livelihood. Smuggling is one of the vices that 19th Century England had to face. Some of the main characters are shown to be actively involved in smuggling. In Hardy's stories women are usually more important than men. Happiness is an occasional episode for them in the long drama of pain of their lives. The women characters in The Wessex tales always are the ones who suffer the most. They are treated like toys by men and are valued for their beauty and not for their characters. They are totally dependent on men and have to listen to even their son's when they are faced some important decisions of their lives. Hardy puts together all these ideas in skilful way for the readers and this makes The Wessex tales gripping and interesting. ...read more.

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