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Pre-1914 Prose Coursework

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Emma Partington Pre-1914 Prose Coursework "How does Hardy explore the tensions of family life and love in his short stories?" The tensions between family life and love are present in a number of Thomas Hardy's short stories. Many of these are tragedies occur due to a fatal flaw in the protagonist who fights the conflict of responsibility and desire. The protagonist in 'An Imaginative Woman' is named Ella Marchmill. She is a middle-aged woman with children and a 'lymphatic' husband. The first impression we receive of Ella is that she is of a dreamy nature: "Mrs Marchmill started out of the reverie into which the book had thrown her" As the plot unfolds, we gather that Ella Marchmill is not only 'dreamy' but lives in two worlds, one inside her head and another, outside in reality. Ella is described as 'sanguine' and 'nervous'; we go on to discover that this description fits Ella perfectly. For example, when she discovers that the man whose room she has taken over for the summer is a poet, she franticly worries whether she has done the right thing: "...And it is his room we have taken, and him we have turned out of home?" Mrs Marchmill, although married is not very involved with her family. She seems more attracted to her fantasy world, rather than family life, her relationship with her husband is described as 'conformable'. ...read more.


The first image this narrator creates is one that the reader feels sorry for because of the disability described. Therefore Hardy is automatically taking control of our feelings when Randolph, Sophy's son, enters the story. We take her side and pity her when he corrects her speech, seeing that although she wants to be a 'lady' and live up to her son and late husband, she cannot and will consequently always be of lower social status: "When he had somewhat recovered from his paroxysm, he hastily went to his own room and fastened the door" The word 'paroxysm' establishes Randolph's education and class. Sophy feels alienated from her son: "No I am not a lady, I never shall be. But he's a gentleman, and that - makes it - oh so difficult for me!" This significant declaration gives the reader an insight into how Sophy feels about her son. She says her son is of a different intellectual level and a different social status. The exclamation mark at the end emphasizes Sophy's distress at the social differences between herself and her son. By law Sophy Twycott is a lady, but in her heart and to others around her it is clear that she behaves much more like the people she grew up with. After Mr Twycott's death, Sophy begins to think about her old friend Sam, a gardener f low social status who has once proposed: "She had often wondered if life in a cottage with him would ...read more.


The two protagonists in this story are Joshua and Cornelius, they, like Randolph, yearn for a higher social class-this is their fatal flaw. Joshua and Cornelius want to get rid of their father because they feel he will ruin their dream of a higher social status which will soon be gained through the marriage of their sister to a wealthy man, Squire Fellmer. The two brother watch their father drown, giving no help and giving no attempt to save him. The tragedy in this story occurs when the boys regret their actions and their sister does not marry Fellmer. Like in so many of Hardy's stories, desire for a higher social class results in a tragic conclusion. Although a few of Hardy's stories have similar endings they are written in very different styles. In 'An Imaginative Woman' the ending is very sudden and unexpected of the character involved. However in 'The Son's Veto' the story's conclusion is drawn out and slow. It is subtle but conveys a powerful message as well as imagery. In 'A Tragedy of two Ambitions' he ending is not at all sudden and differs in style to the other two endings. In both 'An Imaginative Woman' and 'The Son's Veto', there is a female protagonist and she dies before the tragedy occurs. In all three stories, one parent was a liability and all stories featured social class and family dilemmas. Through his short stories, is Hardy criticising ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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