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

In this assignment we will be comparing the leading female characters in Thomas Hardy's The Withered Arm and Gamblers Never Win by Stan Barstow.

Extracts from this document...


Thomas Hardy, (1840-1928) began writing novels in 1867 with "The Poor Man and the Lady" but it was rejected. But, in 1874, he had his first success with none other than "Far From the Madding Crowd". Hardy went on to write many novels and poems, mainly about rural life. In this assignment we will be comparing the leading female characters in Thomas Hardy's The Withered Arm and Gamblers Never Win by Stan Barstow. The leading female roles in The Withered Arm are that of Rhoda Brook and Gertrude Lodge. Hilda Scurridge is the main female character in the Stan Barstow story, with Eva, her daughter also making a brief appearance. As well as the female characters in the stories, we will also be looking at how the time period in which the story was written/is set affects how the social and historical influences and situations are when it comes to issues such as marriage. The first thing we will compare is the appearance of each of the characters. Rhoda Brook is described in the book as a 'thin, fading woman of thirty'. We also know several other details about her appearance by looking at the text. She is said to have very pale skin, which is unusual because she is a milk-woman who would spend most of the time outside. She also has very dark eyes which appear to be the only thing left about her which can seem beautiful. We derive this information from the quote - The radiance lit her pale cheek and made her dark eyes, that had once been handsome, seem handsome anew. Because she works as a dairy maid on the farm, Rhoda has workers hands which are worn and blistered. She seems very self-conscious about them and when Gertrude comes along, she asks constantly about what her hands look like. She is also quite tall and this seems to be the only thing she is satisfied about when she finds out what Gertrude is like. ...read more.


On the other hand, Gertrude has no children throughout her marriage to Farmer Lodge. He begins to believe that because he has no child to his wife that the heavens are punishing him for refusing to acknowledge Rhoda's son. In 'Gamblers Never Win', we hear about Hilda's father. He is portrayed as a tyrannical father who constantly spoke about the sins of the world and God. He did not approve of Fred Scurridge and we get the impression that Hilda began a relationship with him to spite her father. We do not get any similar story of how the relationship of either Rhoda or Gertrude with Farmer Lodge in 'The Withered Arm' Another difference between the books is that while Farmer Lodge does not get married to Rhoda, even though she is carrying his child, Fred and Hilda have to get married because she becomes pregnant. The difference in these circumstances are because of the social standing on intercourse before marriage. In the 1830's, when 'The Withered Arm' was written a man did not have to marry a woman if she got pregnant as it was seen as her fault. She would probably be thought of as a 'scarlet woman' for a while but sooner or later it would be forgotten. However, in the 1950's (when 'Gamblers Never Win' was written) to become pregnant out of wedlock was a huge social gaffe. Many men who found their partners to be with child were forced to marry them. This is how Mr. Mrs. Scurridge came to be married. Abortions were not made legal in Britain until 1968 so Hilda could not have avoided her marriage. Unfortunately, it seems as though the passion and desire which brought Mr. and Mrs. Scurridge together did not last and the relationship has dwindled into a dull and repetitive lifestyle. Divorce was also heavily frowned upon in the 1950's so both Fred and Hilda stay together even though they are unhappy. ...read more.


Hilda suffers most in the stories because her husband was once a wonderful man who she then had to watch as a 'demon' took over him and turned him into a vile creature who's every word to Hilda is laced with malice. Hilda had to watch as her whole world disintegrated around her. Not once throughout the whole story does Fred Scurridge say anything nice to his wife. Indeed, some of the last words he said to her were 'D'you think you're fir to take anywhere? Look at yersen!' Out of the three women, Rhoda gets the best treatment. Although Lodge left her, he did not treat her badly as the other two are when he was with her. I think that although both stories are very similar, it is the little differences such as the treatment of the characters and the language used that makes the biggest impression. The language in 'The Withered Arm' can be a little hard to follow and so a lot of the plot can be lost. Out of the three characters I feel most sympathy for Hilda as she has never really seen what life can be like because she was with her God-fearing father until she was twenty two and the she was married to Scurridge. Rhoda I can understand why she is like what she is but she seems to be able to cope with just about anything life will throw at her. Gertrude, I do not feel any pity towards her as she seems too vain and bitter towards the end of the book. She doesn't often do anything by herself and when she does, it ultimately leads to her demise. I don't really think I can comment on the rights and wrongs of the treatments of the character as I haven't lived in those times so I don't really understand the workings of the social statuses and what would be acceptable and what would not in each different time. Lindsey Alcock Centre 42119 Candidate No. 8001 ...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 Thomas Hardy 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 Thomas Hardy essays

  1. Presentation of Marriage in"Tony Kytes the Arch-Deceiver" and "The Half Brothers".

    He chooses to marry Helen, because he knows that in her state of affairs she is very likely to agree when she hears that he will take care of her son.

  2. Wessex Tales How the characters are effected

    The parson went mad and kicked them out of the church-this must have made him feel disgusted with the band. 'Never such an insulting, disgraceful thing-never!' Is showing the disgust and rage in both the parson and the squire.

  1. Prose Study " The Withered Arm And Other Wessex Tales" By Thomas Hardy

    This story like "The Withered Arm" compares the relationships between men and women in Victorian times. Although the stories are alike the structures are very different. "The Son's Veto" at the beginning shows flashbacks of one of the main characters life before she was married.

  2. Compare 4 of Thomas Hardy's poems In this essay I will compare The Going, ...

    For example, Your Last Drive shows both resentment and grief. "love, praise, indifference, blame". His emotions here are mixed and raw. This is the only poem of the four I have selected, that allow us to empathise with Hardy. It shows us reason for his feelings, and the complete shock to him of what happened.

  1. Compare and Contrast a selection of Thomas Hardy's Poetry

    into the poem, and how the clear memory for him was a happy one to look back on. '...those tall firs and beechs were not planted', is probably difficult to imagine, that the tree seed was '...dropped by some bird a hundred years ago.'

  2. An Essay on The Withered Arm, by Thomas Hardy

    Hardy, like many other writers, uses his characters and circumstances to express his feelings and opinions. The principle theme in 'The Withered Arm' is that you past can never be buried, as it will always rise to haunt you. He demonstrated this philosophy when the death of his wife, was

  1. How does Hardy encourage us to sympathize with Gertrude and Rhoda? Do you sympathize ...

    This encourages sympathy because she is driven out of her home by the circumstances. We also sympathize with Rhoda when we read of her son being wrongly executed - he was present when the crime was committed. The executioner said that, "if ever a young fellow deserved to be let

  2. Compare 'A Stench of Kerosene' by Amrita Pritam and 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas ...

    They are linked in so many ways that each one's life is profoundly influenced by the other. Rhoda Brook, Who Farmer Lodge had an affair with, and had a child with. Farmer Lodge abandon Rhoda when she was pregnant with his child, and Gertude Farmer Lodge's new wife.

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