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'The Monkey's Paw' and 'The Withered Arm' are tales of great suffering and pain - in your opinion who suffers most - what makes this character interesting?

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Introduction

Literature Coursework 'The Monkey's Paw' and 'The Withered Arm' are tales of great suffering and pain - in your opinion who suffers most - what makes this character interesting? Compare and contrast the supernatural elements of each and finally which made the greater impact upon you and why? For this piece of coursework I have studied two short stories written before 1900 - both are tragic tales of fate and its consequences. 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas Hardy is a tragic story about how one woman's feelings of jealousy towards another, spiral out of control until it ends with the death of her only son. 'The Monkey's Paw' by W.W.Jacobs is also about how a man's feelings of greed lead to the death of his only son. The characters in both stories suffer tremendously as a result of their feelings but I feel that The Withered Arm's main character Rhoda Brook had suffered the most compared to Mr. White from 'The Monkey's Paw.' Rhoda Brook had suffered long before the supernatural element of the story occurred. Rhoda is alienated from the rest of the farm workers as she had a son with the farm's owner, Farmer Lodge. ...read more.

Middle

This made Rhoda suffer because she didn't know whether Gertrude knew that she was behind her discomfort. Rhoda's suffering furthers when word got out that she was 'a witch' and people taunted her until it got so bad that she and her son had to leave the town. "The latter kept her own counsel about the incubus, but her face grew sadder and thinner and in the spring she and her boy disappeared from the neighbourhood of Holmstoke." The next time we see Rhoda is when Gertrude goes to cure her arm by touching the corpse of a hanged man and finds out that the dead body is actually that, of Rhoda's son. This is obviously a great cause of suffering on Rhoda's part as her son has just been hanged and she now has noone from her family left. Rhoda spends the rest of her life suffering. She is old and alone working on the farm yet again until she dies. "Her monotonous milking at the dairy was resumed and followed for many long years, till her form became bent, and her once abundant dark hair became white and worn away at the forehead." ...read more.

Conclusion

Another difference is that in 'The Monkey's Paw' there is a magical item in it. The monkeys paw is a charm given to the White's by a soldier who warns them of the consequences of its three wishes. The paw brings great misfortune with each wish and is the cause of all tragic occurrences whereas the tragedies caused in 'The Withered Arm' are caused by human weakness and a supernatural element inside Rhoda. Both stories had a great impact on me as they are both astonishing and exciting stories but the one that had the greatest impact on me was 'The Monkey's Paw.' I liked this story as it was quite short and all the events in it happened quite quickly and unexpectedly. The language used in this story is quite nice as it flows together well. The plot to the story is quite surprising especially in the end when Mrs White wishes for her son to come back from the dead. The ending is very good, but part of me wanted to find out what would have happened if Mr White hadn't wished his son dead again. In my opinion 'The Monkey's Paw' is the more exciting story although I enjoyed 'The Withered Arm' also. 1 ...read more.

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