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Who was most to blame for the outcome of "On the Western Circuit?

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Who was most to blame for the outcome of "On the Western Circuit? "On the Western Circuit" is a short story written by Thomas Hardy, one of Britain's greatest novelists. Hardy was born on June 2, 1840 in Higher Brockhampton, Dorset. He wrote novels such as "Far from the Maddening Crowd", "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" and "Jude the Obscure". I will be answering the question of who was the most to blame for the outcome of "On the Western Circuit" and possible reasons for each character to hold the most responsibility. I will also be explaining why I sympathise with the characters. The main characters are Raye, a well off lawyer from London who captures the heart of Anna, a simple country girl from the small village of Melchester. Edith, who is Anna's mistress and guardian, is also very taken by Raye, and ends up falling in love with him. Raye and Anna end up married because Anna becomes pregnant, much to the dismay of Edith and Raye who is by this time in love with Edith. Raye feels that it is his duty to marry Anna, even though he is not in love with her. The story is set in Victorian times, and Hardy was very interested in the strict moral attitudes of Victorian society, and people's behaviour who are of different social backgrounds. ...read more.


In many respects, Raye could be considered to blame for the outcome of the story. It was him who started events, he only wanted Anna for a quick fling while he was travelling, and it was her superficial beauty that attracted him, as the quote "the observer's eyes centred on the prettiest girl" shows. He calls her "his select country beauty", so he must regard himself quite highly, and that he could have any lady he desires. He used Anna for a bit of excitement, and intended to do so on each of his circuit journeys "three to four times a year". Secondly he wished their marriage to be private, as the quote "He wished the ceremony to be in London for greater privacy" illustrates. This shows the reader that Raye is concerned about social status, and would even enrol Anna "in a little private training in the social forms of London" to get her up to his standards. He was bothered about what his upper class friends and colleges would think if he were to marry a simple country girl like Anna. On the other hand we can sympathise with Raye, because could have run off when he found out that Anna was pregnant, and left her to fend for herself with the baby. Instead he put his professional ambitions on the line by marrying her. ...read more.


The story reflects Hardy's obvious pessimistic view on life. Hardy describes love as something that "often leads up to passion, heart-ache, union, disunion, devotion, overpopulation, drudgery, content, resignation, despair". This shows that Hardy does not have a very optimistic view on love in general. The ending of the story also shows this because Edith and Raye end up in a loveless marriage. I think if this storyline were used for a soap opera nowadays, the plot would possibly end in Raye running off with Edith, or possibly Edith seeking revenge on Anna by killing her, or ruining her marriage. This sort of ending would not have been used in Victorian times though because it would have been seen as outrageous by society. In conclusion, I feel that Edith holds most responsibility for the outcome of the story. I think she could have prevented Raye and Anna seeing each other, or explained to Anna how Raye really felt about her. She failed to protect Anna and became obsessive. I also do not think she should have admitted to Raye about her love for him after the wedding, because in my opinion he would have been better off not knowing so he wouldn't be able to wish that he had run away with her. I feel most sympathetic for Anna who did not know of all the things going on behind her back, like Edith's love for Raye, and Raye only marrying her because of her baby. 1 22/04/20071 ...read more.

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