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Thomas Hardy

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Introduction

Thomas Hardy was born in mid-19th century Dorset. In his lifetime, he wrote many books and poems, and whilst practically all tell a simple story, within them Hardy writes of many themes, such as love/marriage, fate and coincidence, isolation, the macabre, that appear frequently in his texts. He was very interested in communicating to his readers these themes and his interests, including human relationships and what tests them (things like secrecy, trust), strange occurrences, a belief in the supernatural ("necromancy"), failure of marriage, crime and punishment and fate and destiny. He also writes to communicate to his readers about experiences in his lifetime that had an impact on him, like when he witnessed a woman's public hanging when he was young - his stories are often morbid and feature death in them, as one critic said 'it stained him for life'. One of these themes is love and marriage, and must have been very prominent in Hardy's intentions for including in his stories, as it appears in every story and poem we have studied He may feel strongly about this subject as he himself was married twice, first to Emma Gifford, but his relationship with her was less then a perfectly happy one, as it began to become difficult, and secondly to Florence Dugdale. His difficult love life must have affected him greatly as we can see in his writing, as very often, lovers in his stories often experience danger, worry and frequently end up far unhappier toward the end of his story/poem. We can see this, more than once, in his short story 'The Withered Arm'. We are introduced to Rhoda Brook, who it becomes clear is Farmer Lodge's ex-wife. ...read more.

Middle

Although he presents Phyllis with an expensive gift, seemingly out of his love for her. Phyllis is very cross at herself, 'bitterly reproached' for believing any report she had heard that Gould had been unfaithful. Gould's present however, turns out to be more of a peace offering - he had married someone else. After Phyllis restrained herself with the Hussar in the belief Gould would do the same, Gould has been disloyal, dishonest and unfaithful. To make matters worse, he is even asking a favour of Phyllis. This is how Hardy is communicating to the readers about relationships - trust is a two-way thing, and having no respect for someone else's trust can severely ruin a relationship. By comparing the two men, we can see more clearly how Phyllis restrained herself; Gould is described as neither young nor old, or middle-aged, neither good-looking nor plain. Too steady-going to be 'a buck', approximately fashionable, of a mild type. The indecision (neither...nor..., approximately, mild) helps to get the feeling across the Gould isn't very exciting, or has any distinguishable looks. Matth�us however, was particularly striking, especially to Phyllis, because as soon as she saw him, she thought about his face for the rest of the day. 'Its aspect so striking, so handsome, and his eyes were so blue...'. Not only is Matth�us described as being a very handsome young man, instead of the indecision we got with the description of Gould, Hardy uses the word 'so' a lot, which makes his features sound much more handsome and noticeable. Secrecy is also evident in Gertrude's and Farmer Lodges relationship, in 'The Withered Arm', and as we can see, their relationship came to a very unhappy end. ...read more.

Conclusion

He had been punished for his lateness, very strictly, by being reduced to the rank of private, but as he committed the 'crime', and he realised he would be in trouble, he had to face his punishment. Another example appears in the same story, and the message of crime and punishment is emphasized by the drastic and harsh punishment at the end. Matth�us has asked Phyllis to run away with him back to Germany. He realises that this is a very risky thing to do, as he would be deserting the army, which is seen as a very serious crime. Phyllis however, is unsure what to do. Her cheating, unfaithful, disloyal fianc� has just come back, and after a long, plain, lonesome lifetime, she is suddenly faced with an incredible proposition, and she is afraid of taking such a random prospect - 'so wild as it was, so vague, so venturesome'. She doesn't go with him in the end, but Matth�us, along with his friend Christopher, leave, for he hates being in the army so much, and wants to get back to his mother, who he feels he has left lonely. But he is caught, and has to pay the high price for desertion, death by firing squad. Crime and punishment also features in 'The Withered Arm', as Rhoda Brooks's son is hanged for committed the crime of theft. Some people may thing this punishment is a little harsh for the crime, but perhaps Hardy wanted to get his point of crime and punishment across strongly, so he choose to write of death as a punishment. GCSE English & Literature Coursework Unit 3 - Pre 20th century Prose and Poetry Thomas Hardy Task 1 What do you think Thomas Hardy was really interested in communicating to his readers? Find evidence in the stories and poems you have studied. Peter Stagg 10F ...read more.

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