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How does Thomas Hardy present a picture of society at the time his stories were written?

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Introduction

How does Thomas Hardy present a picture of society at the time his stories were written? Thomas Hardy presents a picture of how society was by the language he uses and also what happens in the stories. The differences with today's society and Thomas Hardy's society are their everyday lives, social status, relationships, marriage, morals, superstitions and law and order. In Tony Kytes, life was very different from how it is today. They used to travel along village lanes in a horse and cart, "wagon" and rode to market where Tony had been doing business for his father. Men in those days spent their days finding the right girl to marry. This is because it was difficult to get a divorce so they had to stay with that person for the rest of their life. In the Son's Veto, the town they described was a horrible place "... a narrow, dusty house in a long, straight street". These days the towns are full of offices and shops and are not so crowded and polluted. This makes the reader feel that Sophy and Mr Twycott have had to leave such a beautiful place, "abandoning their pretty home, with trees and shrubs and glebe". In The Withered Arm, many rich men e.g. Farmer Lodge, were farmers. Nowadays farms are poor, due to the increase in tertiary businesses. The Son's Veto shows us a lot about the social status of men and women in the old days. ...read more.

Middle

Rhoda becomes slightly jealous of Farmer Lodge's new wife and was persistent about finding out what she looked like, "is she ladylike", "what colour is her hair and face". She did this by making her son run errands and spy on Gertrude, "Go early and notice her walking in, and come home and tell me if she's taller than I". Rhoda imagined that she hurts Gertrude's arm but it actually happened. When Farmer Lodge sees Gertrude's arm he starts to visit Rhoda and his son. This is because he does not love Rhoda anymore due to her disfigurement, "the woman whom he had wooed for her grace and beauty..." This meant that as Gertrude had not given him a family, "she had brought him no child...." the reader feels as though Farmer Lodge's only chance for a child to carry on his name is Rhoda's son. Farmer Lodge and Gertrude were in love at the beginning of the story. Farmer Lodge loved her for her beauty and grace, "her face too was fresh in colour, but it was of a totally different quality - soft and evanescent, like the light under a heap of rose-petals". Due to Rhoda's dream, Gertrude's arm became disfigured, "...contorted and disfigured in the left limb". Farmer Lodge starts to dislike Gertrude because she was not as beautiful with her distorted arm. This makes Farmer Lodge a shallow man whose only intention was to marry a pretty lady who could bear him beautiful children. ...read more.

Conclusion

After she visited Conjuror Trendle she found herself practising black magic on her disfigured arm, "...nay, bunches of mystic herbs, charms and books of necromancy..." Near the beginning of the story, we know that it was too much of a coincidence for Rhoda's dream to only be a dream, "what was that noise in your chimmer, mother, last night? just when the clock struck two". This leads us to feel that Rhoda might be a witch or possess powers. Rhoda cannot explain it herself so the readers might pity her In The Withered Arm people were hanged for doing fairly minor things in that society, "... men were executed for horse-stealing, arson and burglary". Hanging was also seen as some kind of entertainment as some called it a "hang-fair". Many people travelled for miles around to see "the spectacle". Also they sold the rope that was used for the hanging, "Tis sold by the inch afterwards". In conclusion I feel that Hardy presented a clear and understandable picture of what society was like when he wrote the stories. From evidence I have gained from reading the stories, Hardy has shown us about society throughout each story under many topics e.g. marriage. I felt that the Withered Arm gave me the most insight into society. This is because I got emotionally involved, as I felt pity for Rhoda near the beginning of the story but as I became aware of Gertrude's feelings I felt anger towards Rhoda. This helped me to understand what life was like in the time when Hardy wrote the stories. By Hanna Thomas 10H ...read more.

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