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With close textual references to On the Western Circuit and The Withered Arm, explore Hardys critique of relationships between men and women in a Victorian society?

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Introduction

With close textual references to 'On the Western Circuit' and 'The Withered Arm', explore Hardy's critique of relationships between men and women in a Victorian society? What we need to understand is that all is not perfect, however perfect it may seem in appearance. There is always a larger picture to what a person perceives, however well hidden the secrets lie; and the fact that in a married relationship, appearance means nothing at all. In a Victorian society, a lady betrothed to a wealthy land owner is to be indeed just that: a lady, perfect by appearance and with the correct qualities that a lady must possess. She would respect and obey her husband to a point of prosiness, she would bring him many children to inherit his money and land, and despite the fact that she is well educated, would be bound to care for her children as a women in that society would. In other words, a wealthy land owners wife would be regarded as a lady, and a lady is all. Two of Hardy's short stories 'On the Western Circuit' and 'A Withered Arm' show in great detail the role and character of a married woman in the Victorian era. ...read more.

Middle

In the end happily married couples? No. However if both couples had married because they loved each other, instead of what society insisted, would the outcomes have been different? Hardy's tales of these unfortunate couples indicate to the Victorian audience that all is not perfect when considering marriage. Hardy is telling us that behind these storylines, there is a larger picture. It is in fact quite a sad as this larger picture represents a large majority of Victorian couples, all who believed they were making the right choice by marrying for money and status instead of following their heart and marrying for love. It was due to this decision that most couples ended up unhappily married, and deeply regretting their decision to carry out marriage in the first place. It is this that spurred Hardy to write from the perception of four women, as opposed to the men. Up until now I have not mentioned the other side to the story, or in other words, the larger picture. Even with Anna's pregnancy and Gertrude's withered arm veering marriage off its fairytale track, Hardy presents to his readers yet another complication in their marriages. ...read more.

Conclusion

God was an icon to whom people obeyed, but when marrying a companion they did not obey the bible by finding a partner to love. The passage below is taken from 'On the Western Circuit' in the narrators voice: 'Edith Harnham led a lonely life. Influenced by the belief of the British parent that a bad marriage with its aversions is better that free womanhood with its interests, dignity and leisure, she had consented to marry the elderly wine merchant as a last resort, at the age of seven and twenty- some three years before this date - to find afterwards that she had made a mistake. That contract had left her still a woman who's deeper nature had never been stirred.' In other words she has never experienced romantic love. From this, I can conclude that Hardy did not only know, but believed that women were exploited by men to use as items in marriage; these women, represented by Edith Harnham, were bound by "contract" not love to their marriages which left them regretfully as women with a "deeper nature that had never been stirred". But there was nothing they could do as in the Victorian Society their lives would follow one of two paths: one in marriage or one alone on the edge of society, but neither with love. ...read more.

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