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An analysis of how The Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy Reflects what life was like in pre-twentieth century Britain.

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Craig Anderson 26th March 2003 An analysis of how The Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy Reflects what life was like in pre-twentieth century Britain. The Withered Arm is a fairly well known short story written by Thomas Hardy in 1890. It is set in 1825 and is about_____ It reveals what life was like for people living in Britain before the twentieth century. It shows us the people's views concerning issues such as superstition, social status, past times and relatively new scientific cures:~ Many things effected what life was like around in the time that The Withered Arm was set. Though a person's standard of life depended greatly upon social status, upper class (which mainly consisted of Land owners and those born into a wealthy background) and lower class. The food that person would eat, their working conditions and their accommodation would all depend on what social class they belonged to. A good example can be produced if we carefully analyse the lives of Rhoda Brook (lower class) and the farmer (upper class). Rhoda would rise with the sun to work on the farm milking cows. ...read more.


They would use this carriage to take them to places such as the market where goods would be traded, and where much gossip would be exchanged. Gossip was almost like a hobby for people belonging to the lower class, as there was little else to do whilst tediously milking the cows or walking for miles to get to market, etc. Gossip was the main way that news was able to spread, as there were few newspapers at the time. Because it was mainly spread by word-of-mouth, sometimes the actual issue may have become distorted. This could sometimes be terrible for whom the gossip was concerning, and could occasionally lead to punishment for a crime or even excommunication (like Rhoda). Another position, other then the work place or at market, where gossip was exchanged was at the local church, which was considered a focal point for an entire community. This is why Rhoda had sent her son to the church to find out more about the farmers new partner, as she knows that both she and the farmer would be at the Sunday morning service. ...read more.


The hanging would usually take place just after midday, as the London coach would arrive prior to that and may be carrying a letter ordering a reprieve. Though this was often not the case, as the justice system was very severe, and even if it was known that a person under trial for a crime was innocent, the punishment would still be carried out to set an example for all potential offenders. An execution would be issued even for arsine. With the information that I have gathered from The Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy, it seems that the majority of people living in Britain in 1825 were still quite reliant upon a superstitious way of life; believing magic and witchcraft. The fact that everything relied so heavily on a classing system just goes to show how socially under developed the people of Britain were before the twentieth century. This could have been because of being confined mostly to their own village due to a lack of money and transport. However, there are signs of scientific development with the existence of doctors during that time, which does show us how the communities managed to evolve into today's sprawling cities and towns. ...read more.

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