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

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Introduction

"Women play victims in Thomas Hardy's short stories, roles that were typical of Victorian women in general" Discuss with references at least three of Hardy's short stories Thomas Hardy in his short stories "The Withered Arm", "Tony Kytes, the Arch Deceiver" and the Winters and the Palmleys" presents his readers with a series of unsettling visions of the relations between men and women, women mainly coming worse off. For example Rhoda of "The Withered Arm", the poor outcast milkmaid, not even respected by her own son, or pretty Harriet Palmley, the wolf in sheep's clothing, evil due to her education, therefore not a victim, but instead a horrible person. Gertrude also, a good, obedient, "rosy cheeked titsy-totsy little body enough" until she gets her arm withered from a curse that drives her to desperation to find a cure for the "disfigurement". All these women, due to the fact that they're female, all ended off worse off and in the course of this essay I am going to analyse whether his female characters were victims or merely women of their time. Hardy's stories, mainly set 50 years before they were written, are set mostly in the 1830's period of Victorian Britain, when women were considered lower than men and didn't usually get any rights or education, especially in the rural areas such as Wessex, where Hardy's "Wessex Tales" where set. ...read more.

Middle

When Lodge and Rhoda saw her doing so onto Rhoda's recently hung son, Rhoda went into a state of mad anger which demonstrates another evil side to Rhoda as well, and thrust Gertrude against the wall, which combined with the 'turning of her blood', killed her. This shows the sticky ending of one of Hardy's female characters, which was the most common way of Hardy's to end the women in his stories except for one, Mrs. Chundle. Mrs Chundle still died, but she died peacefully of old age and happy after she had found God through her only friend, a curate at the local parish. She did not know however that the reason the curate didn't come to say goodbye at her deathbed was because of her appalling onion breath. Apart from this, you can still clearly see the difference between the two deaths. Hardy changed the moods of his stories in many different ways. The moods of "The Withered Arm" and "Tony Kytes the Arch Deceiver" are completely different, as "The Withered Arm" is a dark, depressing story of hate and "Tony Kytes, the Arch Deceiver" is a jolly, fast moving comical tale. Hardy achieves these moods by using devices such as 'pathetic fallacy', a technique that involves changing the setting to convey the mood of the scene. ...read more.

Conclusion

Milly now, the "nice, light, small, tender little thing" that is so completely besotted about Tony that she will bypass the fact that he only chose her as a wife as a last resort, his proposal speech being "hey, Milly", after he had already asked the other two, Unity and Hannah in front of her. She is definitely a victim but I'm not so sure she deserves my pity as she brought it on herself. The other two, Unity and Hannah are in the same boat in the way that they both want to steal Tony away from Milly but when it comes to Tony actually asking them to marry him they both refuse out of pride. They are not victims but women of their time, so they do not gain my pity, as that's just the way it was. As for the male characters such as Lodge, who dies peacefully of old age, leaving most of his money to a reformatory for boys after being the main victimiser and Tony Kytes also, after humiliating Milly totally and having a happy ending is unfair considering what happened to all the women. I think Hardy does exaggerate the victimisation of the women and praise the men in his stories and I do feel sympathy for the majority of the women but as for the rights, characters and education of all the women, that's them just being women of their time. ...read more.

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