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Thomas Hardy: The Withered Arm, pre 20th Century - Juanita Casey: The Seagull, 20th Century - Both stories explore the power of emotions and attitudes to influence relationships and events - Compare the ways the two authors go about their explorations.

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Introduction

Comparative Wide-Reading Assessment. English EN2 English Literature Thomas Hardy: The Withered Arm, pre 20th Century Juanita Casey: The Seagull, 20th Century Both stories explore the power of emotions and attitudes to influence relationships and events. Compare the ways the two authors go about their explorations. Can an internal attitude affect a physical event? This is the question both the authors are asking the reader in their stories. In connection with this the two authors are also trying to find out if peoples emotions and attitudes can effect and influence relationships whether it is their own or another persons. In Hardy's story, "The Withered Arm", he focuses on the relationship between Rhoda Brook and Gertrude Lodge and how their emotions subconsciously affect what happens to other people and then how these consequences affect their relationships. Casey however focuses on the relationship between the husband and the wife and how the rejection towards the wife and her emotions and attitudes toward the seagull could effect what happens to her husband. I intend to explore the issue of whether emotions and attitudes can in fact influence relationships in both the short stories, first with relation to Hardy's issues and then I shall write about The Seagull, in comparison to The Withered Arm. In the Withered Arm, Hardy begins his story by setting the scene so that the reader can imagine where the story is set. From his descriptions we can deduce that this story is set in a rural, pastoral background, which is very remote. Their community seems very close knit and suffocating, as everybody seems to know everyone's business. We know this because everyone seems to know about the relationship between Rhoda Brooks and Farmer Lodge as in the first chapter when the milkmaids begin to talk about Farmer Lodges new wife they occasionally throw a glance to the "other side of the Barton" where a "thin, fading woman of thirty milked somewhat apart from the rest." ...read more.

Middle

As she is conversing with the hangman he mentions the time of the hanging and how they always wait for the "London mail-coach" in case of a reprieve and at this Gertrude involuntarily exclaims, "O-a reprieve-I hope not!" and at this the hangman states that "if ever a young fellow deserved to be let off, this one does" as he was only "present by chance when the rick was fired" and again we as the reader can add up the clues which hardy has again been dropping for us and come to the conclusion that Gertrude's "silent prayer" is interconnected with the fate of this young boy as she was so desperate that she prayed for any one to die, whether they were innocent or guilty, as long as it was soon. Hardy then in detail goes on to explain how Gertrude is to go about gaining access to the body after the hanging the next day. However when it comes to the hanging the next day, hardy does not describe the hanging itself as he has already described the hanging directly and indirectly as part of his authorial technique and so he wants to leave it to the readers imagination. He leaves hints and indirect descriptions for the reader to pick up on and to draw their own conclusions. At this point he is telling the story through Gertrude's eyes and so as she has not been to the hanging he cannot describe it. Also hardy deliberately does not describe it, as he wants to delay it for the climax of the story for the reader. Once the hanging is over, from the description of the carrying of the coffin, Hardy engages the reader's sympathy. He tells us, "The corpse had been thrown into the coffin so hastily that the skirt of the smock frock was hanging over". The young man was innocent yet was being treated like a criminal just to make an example. ...read more.

Conclusion

The author therefore leaves the reader with an enigmatic ending. The two authors authorial technique are alike in that they both intend to raise questions as without questions the stories would be very safe, predictable and boring and so this way the reader goes away with a disturbed mind. In my opinion I felt that both of the stories were equally as good as each other. I liked the way in which both of the stories managed to get me thinking and at the end left me to figure out for myself what was real and what wasn't as if anything was possible. The language, which each author used seemed to be suited to the time in which the stories were set, for example The Withered Arm is set pre 20th Century and Hardy seems to have mastered the language which they used and this helps us to understand the kind of background the story is set in and each individual character; "Tis hard for she", "He ha'n't spoke to Rhoda brook for years". However in The Seagull, there does not seem to be much speech but from what we do read we can tell that it is set in the 20th Century as Casey uses words like "bitch" and the language seems to be more the kind that we are used to now. Although The Withered Arm seems so have made a slightly larger impact on me in the form of it's complexities, it seems to have more questions and possibilities to it than The Seagull and I have found that I could try to chase the source of the vision for a very long time and that it would still manage to bring me to numerous conclusions. In conclusion I do believe that the stories are presented exceptionally well and in answer to the question, Can an internal attitude affect a physical event? From reading these stories and from real life I do believe that our attitudes and our emotions can affect a physical event dramatically. Barnaley Baruah VUADS 1 ...read more.

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