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Thomas Hardy writes about the divisions between the upper and lower classes within three of his stories: 'Absentmindedness in a Parish Choir'; 'The Withered Arm'; and 'The Son's Veto'

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Introduction

Class divisions are significant with the historical content of Thomas Hardy's stories. Discus how he explores the effects of these divisions in three stories. Thomas Hardy writes about the divisions between the upper and lower classes within three of his stories: 'Absentmindedness in a Parish Choir'; 'The Withered Arm'; and 'The Son's Veto'. The upper class were wealthy having a good lifestyle, well educated and very concerned with behaving appropriately; the lower class were poor and spent the little money they had on necessities, uneducated and they provided labour for the upper class and other wealthy land owners. He explores different ideas that differentiate between the classes. These ideas include thoughts of superstitions and sacrificing ones job or well being to uphold moral behaviour. Thomas Hardy's stories were a reflection of any rural community or suburb of a town or city and its people that lived there. English society's lives were dictated by the rules and moral standards that the people lived by. How you behaved was important to everybody in the 1800's no matter what class they were in. There were strict unwritten rules of how to behave and people would be disapproved of if they broke these conventions. One of these laws was not have a relationship of love out of your class. In 'The Withered Arm' we are told of a relationship - that resulted in a child - between Rhoda Brooks and Farmer Lodge. After the son was born the people in the village knew of this affair. ...read more.

Middle

A lower class response to this outrage was: "The boy Levi was so frightened that he bolted down the gallery stairs and out homeward like lightening" A similar response to this was the upper class (a member of the clergy was seen as being in a class between the upper and lower classes) response was: "The pa'son's hair stood on end when he heard the evil tune raging through the church, and thinking the choir had gone crazy." The congregation were offended by the tune as they believed that God would be wrathful because of the blasphemous tune as everyone found religion very important and didn't want to go to hell because of God being angered by the tune. Within the three stories Thomas Hardy shows how the upper classes are judgemental and hold prejudice against the lower class. One reason why the upper classes were like this was because they were irritated by the lower classes lack of education and lazy and occasional blasphemous language that they spoke. In 'The Son's Veto', Randolph, Mr Twycott and Sophy's son, is irritated by Sophy's lack of grammatical understanding and use of incorrect words when speaking. "He have been so comfortable these last few hours that I am sure he cannot have missed us" she replied. "Has, dear mother - not have!" Randolph knows that Sophy was only married into the upper class so this angers him, as he wants to become an upper class gentleman. He notices Sophy's imperfections of her speech and feels that this is disgraceful behaviour for an upper class lady and that he will be showed up by her in public. ...read more.

Conclusion

"She had brought him no child which rendered it likely that he would be the last of the family who had occupied that valley for some two hundred. He thought of Rhoda Brook and her son; and feared it might be a judgement from heaven upon him." He believed that not being able to have a son with Gertrude was a form of punishment because of having a son with Rhoda and not being a part of its life. When exploring the differences between the classes Thomas Hardy tend to show as a whole that no matter what class you were in you had your standereds to live to and if you broke the social rules you had to live with the cost that it had made. He also makes a point in show that both classes had an equal amount of troubles and hardship within their lives Thomas Hardy writes about the upper and lower classes not sticking to the social conventions, in these three stories, as being very pessimistic and that if you were to break these rules it was on your back to live with the consequences. Although it is know that Thomas Hardy himself crossed the divide between classes with his education and dreams to become a writer. He did this most successfully but even still he portrays crossing between the classes as very wrong and not a wise life change. Also with in his stories he shows the upper class as being very selfish and self-centred showing them as a whole of being very intolerable people. It is clear that he is contradicting what he has done. 5 1 Pennie Malone. 12th February 2005. Thomas Hardy Essay ...read more.

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