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

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Introduction

Danielle Lant Friday 25th February, 2005 Prose Study " The Withered Arm And Other Wessex Tales" By Thomas Hardy Relationships Between Men And Women Are Central To These Stories. How Do They Reflect The Time In Which The Stories Were Written And What Effects Does Hardy Intend His Characters To Have Upon The Reader? I am going to be writing about " The Withered Arm" By Thomas Hardy. There are three main characters in the tale, Gertrude Lodge, Farmer Lodge and Rhoda Brook. The story begins twelve years after Farmer Lodge gets Rhoda Brook pregnant. Farmer Lodge and Gertrude are married much to the dismay of a bitter Rhoda Brook and her twelve-year-old son. Farmer Lodge is the proprietor of two dairy farms but they also deal in agriculture, the women living on his estate work on the farms. When Farmer Lodge brought Gertrude home, Rhoda Brook felt unwanted, it was as if the door that linked Rhoda to Lodge's relationship together had permanently been shut, there was to be no hope of a reunion. Realising this Rhoda starts to develop an obsessive interest in Gertrude, ' Well did you see her?' ' Yes; quite plain.' 'Is she ladylike?' ' Yes and more. A lady complete.' These questions asked by Rhoda are to determine in her mind who the better woman is between herself and Gertrude. Hardy contrasts the descriptions of the three main characters. Lodge is described as " A yeoman in the prime of life, cleanly shaven like an actor, his face being toned to that bluish-vermilion hue which so often graces a thriving farmers features." The physical appearance of Lodge leads the reader to assume that Lodge is very self-confident, healthy and strong. In comparison, Gertrude is described as being very delicate and fragile, " The curve of her little nostril to the colour of her eyes." The word " little" is used here to suggest the vulnerability and the youth of Gertrude. ...read more.

Middle

At the beginning of the second part in " The Son's Veto" Hardy uses the third person, " The next time we get a glimpse of her" Here Thomas Hardy either invites the audience to be part of the story or, invites himself to be a part of the audience. During the second part of " The Son's Veto" more comparisons can be made between Sophy and Gertrude. In " The Withered Arm" Gertrude could be described as being young, fragile and na�ve. Sophy in " The Son's Veto" is described as being " a child in nature" the words that are used suggest that even though she is an adult she can be very much considered to have some aspects of a child, like vulnerability. Before Twycott's death he was anxious of this and left Sophy with " no control over anything that had been her husband's" This shows the dominance and control that in the Victorian times men had over women. Sophy was expected to wait for her son to grow old while she watched the world pass by. At the end of section two an old flame relights itself between Sam and Sophy. Before Sophy married, Sam told her of his feelings towards her. Sam makes his feelings clear once more and wants Sophy to marry him as he did before Twycott came on the scene. " I knew you lived along here somewhere. I have often looked out for 'ee." He had never stopped noticing Sophy or acknowledging her, this is similar to Lodge noticing his son's presence in " The Withered Arm" even if Lodge never treated his son well it didn't mean he didn't feel anything for him. Section three of " The Son's Veto" shows Sophy and her son trying to carry on with their lives. Sophy isn't a lady by birth she is a lady through marriage,., She feels that she doesn't belong to either the middle class because she is uneducated, nor the working class because she doesn't have to work and doesn't live in poverty like she used to. ...read more.

Conclusion

At the end of " Tony Kytes, The Arch Deceiver" there is a dissimilarity. In " The Withered Arm" and " The Son's Veto" a female main character dies. In " Tony Kytes, The Arch Deceiver" nobody dies, Tony Kytes just had to pick a wife. After the wagon's "accident" in the brambles all the women know exactly what has happened. This is one of the amusing parts because they all reject him except for is original fianc�. " ' I have spirit, and I do refuse him!' says Hannah ' Take her leavings? Not I' says Unity ' and what must be must be, I suppose. Hey Milly?' If you like Tony' " Milly accepted the proposal even though she was asked last. The question is will the marriage last? There are no questions asked at the end of the other stories it is just women in the men's lives dying sad and alone. All of these stories that we have studied all show how women were treated in the Victorian era and all of the stories, no matter how each are portrayed, answer this. I think that Hardy wants the audience to empathise with the female characters because of how they are treated. I also believe that the women in " The Withered Arm" and "The Son's Veto" especially were seen too much to be victims of naivety and vulnerability. However I think that it is impossible to pass a judgement on the women from " Tony Kytes, The Arch Deceiver" because their persona was never properly learnt by the audience. The men in all of the stories passed as being uncaring to the women, whereas Tony Kytes in " Tony Kytes, The Arch Deceiver" didn't mean to be. In the other two stories I think the males mean to treat the women with disrespect because, generally, in the Victorian period, men did not know any better. ...read more.

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