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two short stories by thomas hardy

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21st May 2006 GCSE ENGLISH LITERATURE PRE 1914 PROSE: SHORT STORIES OF THOMAS HARDY Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) The Withered Arm and the Sons' Veto (1874-1888) The loss of happiness in two Hardy short stories. In order to understand what these situations would have been like for the characters in these two short stories you need to put yourself back into Victorian England. When the world was split into social classes; in these particular stories, we only come across middle class people and working class people not upper class people. Citizens in those days would not marry across classes as it was seen to be forbidden. If this was to happen as in the 'Sons' Veto' then the couple would have been committing social suicide and would have been talked about and frowned upon. Classes were only meant to marry between themselves in their own social groups. Victorian England was also a time when women were not meant to work and simply had to get married. A hundred and fifty years ago the Victorians believed in witchcraft and the supernatural which makes Hardy's story 'The Withered Arm' a believable tale for that period. I am going to explore the reasons in which Sophy could not achieve happiness from the short story the 'Sons' Veto'. One of these reasons was because of the difference between Sophy and her son Randolph. This is shown when Randolph corrects his mother by saying 'has, dear mother - not have!' This happens due to Sophy's lack of education compared to her son, the public school boy. This, therefore, makes a division between the two as Randolph finds it hard not to correct his mother when having a normal conversation as she speaks the local dialect not the Queens English. ...read more.


This makes it difficult for her to have any kind of relationships with members of other social classes. Therefore when Farmer Lodge and Rhoda have a son they cannot marry because it would have been considered wrong in Victorian times. She is conscious of this social division between herself and Farmer Lodge, and this is shown in her speculative comments towards his new wife. When Farmer Lodge arrives with his new wife, Gertrude, Rhoda is very inquisitive and gets her son to examine Gertrude to see what she is like compared to herself. After having a dream about herself and Gertrude in which she gives Gertrude a few marks on her hand, she is visited by the real Mrs Lodge and ironically she has the marks on her arm that Rhoda dreamt of. Rhoda feels very guilty about giving Rhoda these marks but she didn't know how she had done it which leads to her thinking about supernatural forces. Farmer Lodge's new wife, Gertrude is a very gentle angelic, delicate young woman; 'Her face too was fresh in colour, but it was of a totally different quality - soft and evanescent, like the light under a heap of rose petals.' Beauty meant everything to women in Victorian times. This is the reason why younger women used to marry older men as they usually had steady jobs and were wealthy. Nowadays, though women don't depend on anyone, they are independent. They do things for themselves like getting a job and getting their own money. Compared to Rhoda, Gertrude is much more elegant and sophisticated, and she is therefore everything Rhoda wants to be; 'Her voice was indescribably sweet, Her glance so winning, her smile so tender.' ...read more.


have done it as it is distasteful for posh women to be interpreted with corpses like it is nowadays but as she has changed she is willing to do this to save her marriage. As she arrived at the hangman's house she becomes slightly scared again as she starts to hesitate and then gets more anxious as she over comes her fear and revulsion to touch the neck of the corpse; 'her knees trembling so that she could scarcely walk.' As the coffin was placed in front of her a 'grey mist seemed to float before her eyes' and before she knew it she was dead as her blood had turned. Overall Gertrude's life could have been a very fulfilled, happy life but because of Farmer Lodges mistake by courting with Rhoda, Gertrude's life had been cursed and therefore ended tragically. Throughout the story we see Gertrude change due to the foreseen circumstances she becomes superstitious and egotistical leading in her into unusual actions which caused everyone pain. After analysing these two short stories, I realise that happiness was never achieved in either due the social split in Victorian Times. This Social split caused the loss of happiness for both Rhoda and Sophy as they were both members of the working class. On one hand Sophy was lucky because she got married, and was promised security and a home. But she was unlucky because she was secluded from everyone else. On the other hand however Rhoda did not marry Farmer Lodge and yet she was still unhappy because she did not have the security she would have liked. So either way if you did or you did not marry in Victorian Times you were still unhappy. This was all due to social class in those times. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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