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In these two short stories Turned and The Withered Arm; women are portrayed similarly in the nineteenth century.

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Introduction

Examine how women in society are portrayed in two short stories. In these two short stories - 'Turned' and 'The Withered Arm'; women are portrayed similarly in the nineteenth century. 'Turned' is a short story about a young maid who had an affair with her householder and unfortunately fell pregnant. The author of the story, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, was a feminist. Her life seems to link with the story in more ways than one. The character in the story, Mrs Maroner, show similar characteristics to Gilman in the respect that they both had left their husband, both had educational qualifications, and they were both very independent. It was published in 1911, towards the end of the nineteenth century. 'The Withered Arm', written by a man; Thomas Hardy, is a story about jealousy. Similarly the story, 'The Withered Arm', is a massive part of Hardy's life. He married at the age of 35 but 'fell out of love', although he waited for his wife to die before marrying his secretary who was 39, (a lot like Mr and Mrs Lodge). During the nineteenth century the popularity of short stories increased dramatically. This was mainly because, as the decade went on, more and more people were learning to read and as short stories were easy to read it too no time for them to become extremely popular. ...read more.

Middle

Similarly Gerta came from a working background and therefore could not have a very good education although she was educated by Mrs Maroner. In the story we are not told much about Gertrude's education but we assume she had a middle class education and either went to a village school, or had a tutor or governess. In the nineteenth century it was unusual for a married couple not to have children. The women would always be the ones who were blamed for not having children even if it was the male who couldn't produce. In the two stories both Gerta and Rhoda had children out of wedlock, and although this would have carried on the fathers name, having a child without being married would have seriously changed their status if it was not low already. Having a child in Gerta's and Rhoda's life without the financial support of a male made it difficult. Rhoda had to work as a milkmaid all her life to support her and her son. Where as Gerta has Mrs Maroner to work for her to fund herself, Mrs Maroner and the baby. Gertrude Lodge and Mrs Maroner don't have children but are both married, this will not look good on the women as it would have been blamed on them. ...read more.

Conclusion

In 'The Withered Arm' women are shown to have less of a role in society, which in the 19th century would have been very true. These two short stories, 'the withered arm' and 'turned' portray women similarly in the 19th century. Although Hardy, when writing 'The Withered Arm' gave a more realistic view of what it was like. Depending on your husband's class you would have been treated differently and it was very unusual to marry out of classes. Women's main social structures were also decided upon by the man she had married. Having a child rarely changed the women's status but having one out of wedlock would have meant she would have benn frowned upon. Modern attitudes towards having children have become much more relaxed and it has become more common. In the period of time the two stories were written men's behaviour towards women was very harsh and the women didn't get much say. Hardy presents women to be second best, as to always stand by their husband no matter what. Where as Gilman, who was a feminist, although most her friends were male and she branded herself a 'tomboy' chose to present them in a different way and made them seem just the same as the male gender. By Rebecca Cousins Mr Horan Year 10. ...read more.

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