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"Two themes dominated the whole of Hardy's writing life - the position of women in love and marriage and class distinction". What evidence do you find for this judgement in your reading of (at least three) of Hardy's stories in this collection?

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Introduction

"Two themes dominated the whole of Hardy's writing life - the position of women in love and marriage and class distinction". What evidence do you find for this judgement in your reading of (at least three) of Hardy's stories in this collection? As James Gibson writes in his introduction to this collection of Hardy's short stories, ".......We are aware of Hardy's powerful creative imagination and his sympathy for others, in particular nineteenth-century women whose disadvantages are so clearly demonstrated." A prime example of Hardy's near obsession with writing of women in love and marriage and of class distinction is the short story, "The Withered Arm" This is about a lady who gets her arm damaged by the incubus of her jealous (so called friend) husband's ex-mistress, Rhoda. The woman, Gertrude, knows nothing about Rhoda and her husband Farmer Lodge until right at the end of the story. Rhoda (acts as a friend and tries her best, but) envies Gertrude as she is the favoured more beautiful woman and Rhoda is now seen in Lodges eyes as "a fading woman of thirty" In Rhoda's dream she imagines her attacking Gertrude and almost destroying her arm! ...read more.

Middle

However this is ironic as when he found he and Gertrude had no children he tried to get his and Rhoda's son back because he needed someone to take over the farm. This of course was too late as he had already left. Lodge rejected Gertrude much the same as she did to Rhoda but this time it was because of her arm "it makes my husband - dislike me - no, love me less. Men think so much of personal appearance." Replies Rhoda who knew this only too bitterly "Some do - he for one" "The Withered Arm", then is a harrowing story in which Hardy explores both his interest in the position of women in love and marriage and also the class differences of his and earlier times. These themes are also the main concerns in the next story I shall examine, "Dame the third: Marchioness of Stonehenge". The story/'tale' "Dame the third: Marchioness of Stonehenge" is a story of how and upper-class lady, Lady Caroline who secretly gets married to a lower class man who works for her father, is then unsure whether she has done the right thing and is worried about it. ...read more.

Conclusion

This time she married into class and riches, but not into love and happiness, as before she married the man for who he was, and she thought she loved him. When he died Caroline was very lonely and wanted her son back he asked Millie and him but he said he loved Millie more than his actual mother. Caroline asked for a kiss and he gave Millie a tender loving kiss and Caroline a cold peck, 'this is what started her death'. The third story I am analysing is "Netty Sargent's Copyhold". This story is also a story that gives much more credit to the woman than the man. Netty was making a huge effort to get married to the man Jasper, but in the end when she gets married it was not worth it. Jasper only married Netty to gain the property if she renewed the freehold, which as in "The Withered Arm" shows another man marrying somebody for reasons such as love, this time being property whilst in "The Withered Arm" it was beauty. The marriage meant everything to Netty but nothing Jasper, whilst the property meant everything to him, but nothing to her! ...read more.

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