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Compare & contrast the differences between the middle and peasant classes, village life and town life, men and women and the way in which religion was observed during the Victorian era - setting for Thomas Hardy's

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Introduction

Compare & contrast the differences between the middle and peasant classes, village life and town life, men and women and the way in which religion was observed during the Victorian era - the setting for Thomas Hardy's "The Withered Arm and other Wessex Tales" In the following essay I seek to show evidence of how Thomas Hardy was acutely aware of the social status of people, how village and town life was conducted, how men and women reacted to their own sex and to each other and the part religion played in people's daily lives. Social class is raised a lot in Hardy's pieces. Even though these stories were all written at a different time and then put together, you can see it is a strong theme in the book. In the Withered Arm, there is instantly a strong sense of upper and lower class. You learn of a milkmaid named, Rhoda Brook, and hear of her story among gossipers at the farm. She was once attached to the boss, a Mr. Lodge but because of their differences in class Mr. Lodge ends their relationship, leaving Rhoda with a child. This shows that the upper class can not mix with lower class as it jeopardizes their appearance. ...read more.

Middle

This shows that in these times a woman's job was none at all, but to eat and drink. Thomas Hardy shows that town and upper class life corrupts people, making them have artificial tastes. It even does so to Sophy's own child, Randolph, making him think that his mother's desires were unrealistic. The book drops hints of this in most paragraphs, "...her boy, with his aristocratic school knowledge... He drifted further and further away from her." And "...after her husband's death she soon lost the little artificial tastes she had acquired from him, and became - in her son's eyes - a mother whose mistakes and origin it was his painful lot as a gentleman to blush for." These artificial tastes may even be a metaphor for how the town life is artificial and has no sense of reality, which are consequences from the desire for money. The mother's tastes seem to be the love and friendship from the village life, but compared to the city life of looking good and money grabbing; these tastes are far from artificial. In this story Hardy raises the point of the importance of social class and how one should not mix classes in a relationship. ...read more.

Conclusion

"...the celebrated population-puzzle arose among the denser gentry of the district around Nether-Moyton: how could it be that a parish containing fifteen score of strong full-grown Episcopalians, and nearly thirteen score of well-matured Dissenters, numbered barely two-and-twenty score adults in all?" Sometimes congregation numbers were boosted when the church or chapel held a tea and even the parish clerk used to go to both church and chapel! I found in these short stories that town and village life, religion and class are all linked. In towns most of the population being of a higher class were snobby but behaved poorly, where in the lower classes of the villages, although they were thought to have lower morals, they acted in a purer way. Religion is linked with this by the way the clergy were higher class and religious and therefore assumed to have higher morals, but they didn't always live by them. In these short stories I have also found that men have been shown to be dominant, but shallower than women. Thomas Hardy came from a small village and a lower class family but then became skilled and educated. He eventually moved to London and his social class improved. His own experiences and feelings of life were probably used to write these tales. Josef Jeffrey 5FV 2186 words ...read more.

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