• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"What do the writers of the stories you have studied reveal about society's attitudes towards women's roles and relationships?" Focus on the depiction of the central characters in your answer.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"What do the writers of the stories you have studied reveal about society's attitudes towards women's roles and relationships?" Focus on the depiction of the central characters in your answer. Over the past 150 years women's rights and roles in society have changed considerably and with this, society's attitudes towards women. The depiction of women in the stories I have studied varies greatly and in this essay I will be discussing whether or not the portrayal of women and their rights matches women's history and attitudes towards them both then and today. The stories I have studied were all written between 1870 and today and include 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas Hardy, which although written in the 1870's was set in the 1830's, in a time when women had very few rights; they could not vote and it was extremely difficult for them to instigate divorce. This is reflected in the story as the two leading female characters have very limited freedom and are completely dominated by the male characters. 'The Story of an Hour', written in 1894 by Kate Chopin is more forward thinking than 'The Withered Arm'. It illustrates how women were still restricted and had much fewer rights than men even though at the time laws had been passed to allow women to vote in local elections and to have control over their own properties. ...read more.

Middle

This is a general pattern in Hardy's stories, stronger women live and prevail while weaker and less dependant women die, or suffer poor lives. The freedom and choices women have compared to men in the stories are also very different. In 'The Withered Arm' the central female characters, Rhoda and Gertrude, are incredibly restricted. Gertrude must ask her husband's permission before leaving the house, "to make the journey...required her husband's assistance. She dared not tell him... It was therefore necessary to wait for another opportunity", whereas he has total freedom, "the season was in summer...and in the leisure thus afforded him her husband had been holiday-taking away from home". Rhoda also has restricted freedom, as she has to look after Farmer Lodge's son on her own. Even her son, who is only a child, has more freedom than she has; he is allowed to go to church and out trapping rabbits while she stays inside. This is not at all like the freedom experienced by the teenage girl in 'Your Shoes'. Even at the age of 15 she makes all of her own decisions, choosing to run away from home, "drink alcohol at parties", "smoke pot" and have underage sex; although it is shown that in her mother's relationship, her husband has a lot of the authority. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, in my opinion Rhoda Brook is the strongest female character, as she is not dependent on anyone and lives her own life. Although the teenage girl in 'Your Shoes' has a lot of freedom, she is dependent on alcohol and cannabis and is also financially dependent on her parents. The modern teenage girl leaves us with questions such as, "How do you feed yourself out there on the street?" and "What do you have to do to get money for food?" whereas the supposedly more old fashioned character of Rhoda Brook lived a long and independent life. "Eventually she reappeared in her old parish, - absolutely refusing, however, to have anything to do with the provision made for her. Her monotonous milking at the diary was resumed, and followed for many long years." I feel that as time continues to progress women's portrayal will follow the pattern of past stories and correlate with their rights and freedom at the time. There will be no looking back at society's attitudes in the past, as any difference in rights for men and women is no longer permitted in this country. I would like to think that women will not be portrayed as anything other than what they are: men's equals. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Thomas Hardy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Thomas Hardy essays

  1. With close textual references to On the Western Circuit and The Withered Arm, explore ...

    This may sound like the beginning of a happy family, but Lodge would not marry Rhoda, simply because of who she was to society; so she was left pregnant and very much alone on the outskirts of a community, abandoned by a man who loved her.

  2. Wessex Tales How the characters are effected

    Even though they have all been in love with Tony and they know what he is like- two-timing and can't make his mind up between the girls. Tony is the type of man who goes for looks, so all the girls in the town have a reputation to live up to.

  1. Examine the portrayal of the relationship between the sexes in the short stories of ...

    Her thoughts and actions now revolve around him. It seems that she is still acting independently because she has not suddenly started consulting him over everything she does but everything she does is more focused on him. Even her trips to Rhoda's are no longer just visits but means of finding information.

  2. "Women play victims in Thomas Hardy's short stories, roles that were typical of Victorian ...

    didn't actually do anything wrong except maybe vanity after her arm was cursed and started to wither, but who can blame her? Her own husband, Farmer Lodge "retracted every time he set eyes upon it". This must have been depressing for her, since Lodge only slightly loved her due to her looks, and with that gone she had nothing.

  1. Images depicting the physical and mental coercion of women by men: A discussion of ...

    The cause of all this pain, the man, seems angry and slightly hurried. His brow is crinkled as he is frowning. His eyebrows are then forced down and into his eyes making them more closed than normal. His nose is slightly scrunched up.

  2. Discuss how Thomas Hardy portrays the role of female characters in society in at ...

    Gertrude, at the start of the story, shows a certain amount of confidence and independence. Although she is young and inexperienced, Rhoda's son says she is 'growed up and her ways be quite a woman'. She uses her own initiative leading to her making her own friends in the form

  1. An exploration of presentation of female characters in 3 short stories by Thomas Hardy. ...

    Because she is taller than Gertrude she thinks that she has power over her. When Gertrude wakes up with a mark on her arm Rhoda starts to change her opinion about her. She doesn't feel jealous off her anymore just starts to feel sorry her.

  2. Compare the treatment of males and females in the two stories; Tony Kytes the ...

    A teacher to life. She has motivation and aspires for her dreams. We see no harmonic impulses within the woman of 'the arch deceiver'. She has a purpose this is something that the girls lack. She is given a purpose to nurture- without any expectance of return.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work