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

Who deserves our sympathy:Rhoda or Gertrude

Extracts from this document...


Who deserves our sympathy: Rhoda or Gertrude? Throughout the "Withered Arm" the main characters: Rhoda Brook and Gertrude Lodge experience lots of tragedy, and due to this, the book makes the audience empathise with the two of them. The following paragraphs will examine the lengths and extremes of these tragic events, and therefore conclude who deserves our sympathy. Rhoda Brook is a poor milkmaid and an abandoned single mother and Gertrude Lodge, is the rich and beautiful wife of Farmer Lodge. The pain and suffering endured by both characters is evident at different circumstances in the book, hence the book depicts sympathy for both characters. In the opening chapter of the "Withered Arm", Thomas Hardy shows sympathy for Rhoda. He uses the chapter title to demonstrate this- "The lorn milkmaid". The word "lorn" has connotations of sadness or loneliness; therefore, even before we begin to read the book, the title gives us the impression that the milkmaid is miserable and alone. As the chapter progresses, we learn that Rhoda works on a farm, owned by Farmer Lodge. We soon realise that Rhoda is isolated from the rest of workers on the farm. She does not seem to join in with the general chatter of the other milk maids and is by herself most of the time. ...read more.


Her words show frustration and disgust, suggesting that even though she is insulting her, at the same time she desires to be like her. However, Rhoda's jealousy towards Gertrude soon evolves into an obsession, which results in Rhoda despising her to such extremes, that she cannot even bear the sight of her-"could raise a mental image of the unconscious Mrs Lodge that was realistic as a photograph". This phrase demonstrates that Rhoda constantly thinks about Gertrude. Her disturbing infatuation with Gertrude soon ends in a ghastly and unpleasant dream about her, in which she is being suffocated and taunted by a hideous and monstrous Gertrude. During the dream, Rhoda tries to defend herself, and in doing so violently strikes Gertrude's arm. As a result of Rhoda's attack, Gertrude is peculiarly affected by it in reality. Her arm soon becomes disfigured in the same place Rhoda hurt the confronting spectre, in her dream. Hardy illustrates Gertrude as being humble and caring. This compassion is portrayed in Gertrude bringing new boots for Rhoda's son. Gertrude's gentle character makes the audience feel sorry for her. We feel as if she does not deserve a deformed arm, and hence the blame turns to Rhoda, as Gertrude's distorted arm is a consequence of Rhoda's spite. ...read more.


This portrayal makes the reader feel sorry for Rhoda as she is terribly distraught. It makes us think about the perils and suffering she has experienced throughout her life, and how her life was incredibly demanding. No one deserves to undergo so much disaster and pain, and get nothing in return. Rhoda is infuriated when she discovers Gertrude is present at the hanging and is using her dead son to cure her arm. At this instant, we feel even more sympathetic towards Rhoda as even her final moments with her son have been spoiled by Gertrude, and thus, she adds to the sorrow and anguish Rhoda is feeling. In conclusion, I think that Rhoda deserves most of the sympathy. This is because her difficulties in life considerably outweigh Gertrude's troubles. Ever since the beginning of the book, Rhoda has been suffering. There is no point in the book where she is a happy woman. She spends all her life, making a comfortable world for her son, without the help of his father. It was only natural for her to feel jealous of Gertrude, hence her envy was justified. She did not intentionally hurt Gertrude, and so she is not the root cause of the Gertrude's misery. She may have been the trigger, but it was Gertrude's actions that brought distress in her life. Rhoda represents the lower class society. She is a victim of social classing and gender. ...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 Other Titles 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 Other Titles essays

  1. Thomas Hardy has been praised for the strength of his narrative in The Wessex ...

    destined to die as without meeting Phyllis he claimed life would not be worth living and just after they parted he was ironically executed. And in 'The Three Strangers' although there is a lot of drama in the midst of the tale again the beginning and end are both relatively unaffected by the events.

  2. How does Hardy present Rhoda and Gertrude in The Withered Arm?

    Rhoda had perceived that her companion had quite changed. "Was it you who first proposed to coming here?" Mrs Lodge suddenly inquired, after a long pause. "How very odd if you did!"' After she sees him, she believes all of it and tried for the cure... The cure was shocking but she still went ahead on it.

  1. Surprise and Tension In A Short Story - The Withered Arm

    Thomas Hardy brings each character alive in a very individual way, he does not describe them but refers to them, this is a very useful way in describing characters in a different way. "Beside him sat a woman, many years his junior - almost indeed, a girl.

  2. Discuss Thomas Hardy(TM)s Portrayal of Women

    Lodge would be unusual for the time period. When the one thing which Gertrude is relying on to cure her of her scar turns out to be Rhoda's dead son, and then the act of carrying out the expected cure causes Gertrude's blood to be turned "indeed too much" and she is killed, all this seems far to

  1. Explore how women are presented by Thomas Hardy in The Sons Veto, The Withered ...

    At first Sam acknowledged her formally as Sophy had become a lady by marrying into a higher class than his, but with time this formality began to fade; until it was just like old times again. Talking to Sam again rekindles Sophy's desire to go back home, back to the countryside.

  2. thomas hardy comparing women character

    However, the conversations between Rhoda and her son suggest that she still have feelings towards Farmer Lodge and is very concern about the appearance of his new wife. 'You can give her a look, and tell me what she's like', showing her anxiety to know about her.

  1. Consider how Thomas Hardy explores and presents his views on relationships between men and ...

    The use of sank gives an impression of the couples relationship sinking and therefore the relationship seems dead and gone. The word fear, gives an impression that farmer lodge is scared and desperate that he does not want an issue to occur that he is afraid of.

  2. Thomas Hardy Essay

    Humphrey then decides to go away on a trip and doesn't come back for a year. In that time Phyllis feels abandoned and becomes involved with an exotic German soldier called Matth�us Tina, whose face "was so striking, so handsome; and his eyes were so blue, and sad and abstracted".

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