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The Three Strangers: Analysis

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The Three Strangers: Analysis Thomas Hardy handles his mystery story "The Three Strangers" in a very clever and unique way which contrasts to many conventional mystery stories. Thomas Hardy doesn't start it like many mystery stories in that the opening scene is a scene of normality. A lot of mystery stories begin with quite a sinister tone for example eeriness. However Hardy starts this with quite the opposite tone with a Sheppard's house full of the locals enjoying a hearty party celebrating the Sheppard's son's Christening. Hardy portrays a scene with no tensions or conflict, just everyone enjoying themselves. There is even a little comedy involved with the Sheppard's wife trying to decide whether the party should focus more on drink, food, or dancing. What happens next is the knocking on the door by the first stranger. It is from here on that the relaxed and easy feeling of the party begins to fade. But this first stranger causes no great alarm at all as in those days it was common for weary travelers trekking across the countryside to ask for hospitality or shelter, especially in these adverse weather conditions. ...read more.


When he's in and asks for some shelter the Sheppard, although still welcoming, is less hearty than he was with first. This shows how Hardy is slowly dropping the tone of happiness and enjoyment of the party. The second stranger begins to drink some of the family's best mead much to the indignation of the Sheppard's wife, and when she subtly complains the stranger responds with a remark which the first stranger makes a point of finding funny. This is also very strange as up until now the first had ignored the second pretending to be busy with the fire. Hardy gives the reader a lot of little details, none of which are unusual on there own but once cumulated they do seem odd making the reader speculate the answers to this behavior. Also once asked about his trade, like the first stranger he is very vague and it is only the second time that he tells them he is a hangman but through a rather gothic sounding song about a coming execution. ...read more.


While the hunt for the escapee is going on the first two strangers double back and eat the party leftovers and drink the Meade. This presents another mystery. They then question each other as to why the other doubled back, and they both give the same answer of thinking that there were already enough on the chase. They then go their own ways. Meanwhile the escapee who has been found makes no resistance and answers many of the reader's initial questions on how he had covered up for his brother the real escapee and the first stranger. However although Hardy answers many of these original questions, he keeps the bigger question the fate of the first stranger unanswered and he is never seen again. By doing this he has ended a mystery story with yet another mystery forcing the reader to come up with their own answers. I think that the title of this book was very appropriate because the story is centered on three characters that are not known by the locals and have been given a mysterious edge by Hardy. All three present questions with no clear answer to the reader as to who they are and what were their intentions. ...read more.

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