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English Coursework: Thomas Hardy's Short Stories

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English Coursework: Thomas Hardy's Short Stories Thomas Hardy was a popular19th century author. He wrote many novels which remain popular to this day, such as 'Far from the Madding Crowd' and 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles'. He also wrote many short stories which varied in popularity. His short stories very often concerned marriage and the females' commitment to the act. During the 19th century, the role of women in society was very different to that of today. They had far fewer rights and there was a widespread belief that they were somewhat inferior to men. A married women was more her husband' property than an individual. Hardy's short stories represent the effects an unjust society inflicted upon lots of women in the 1800's, through the use of fictional characters. In 'The Son's Veto' the character of Sophy is introduced via a description of her physical features, implying that her 'nut-brown hair' and 'the curve of a cheek which was neither flaccid nor sallow' are the most important aspects of her; the reader is invited to presuppose her nature through her external appearance. This is relevant of the time as the general belief within society was that women were most suited as objects of lust for males. Sophy's character is being exploited similarly too many other women of her era, as a recipient of men's sexual desires. However, as the story progresses, it is clear that Sophy is an undeserving victim of sexism within her society. ...read more.


She is 'pining her heart away' for she is not able to marry Sam, under her son's express orders, 'he bade her kneel, and swear that she would not marry Samuel'. It is extraordinarily selfless of Sophy to care for her son, with whom she is barely attached emotionally to, more than herself. Sophy's character is depicted as a considerate, humble and altruistic woman. Sadly, through the confinements of society, she is debased in her moral worth and depicted as a mere object belonging to Mr Twycott. Her kind nature is not appreciated at all by her husband or son, and her role in society is to simply become a belonging of her husband's. 'On The Western Circuit' features the character of Mrs Harnham, who is in a similar situation to Sophy. It is her boredom within her marriage which causes her to commit to morally dubious acts which become key to the story. Mrs Harnham is confined by her marriage and emotionally dissatisfied because of it. Her husband was a 'rich wine-merchant of the town, but Mrs Harnham did not care much about him'. Already the reader is invited to glimpse upon the likely possibility that she is not a happily married woman. Mrs Harnham's boredom can also be noted early on in the story. The young girl Anna has 'come to the city on the invitation of Mrs Harnham, who had taken her into her household to train her as a servant'. ...read more.


This is demonstrated by Tony's indecisiveness as to whom he should wed and the way in which the women remain wilfully ignorant to the fact that Tony is a womaniser. It is of greater importance to them to be accepted by society as opposed to happily married. By contrast, however, Anna does not view her social status as a priority. She genuinely wants to marry Mr Raye for his companionship. Anna and the women from the story of Tony Kytes are unlike Sophy and Mrs Harnham in that they are less experienced in life and see marriage as a positive notion. Anna and the women depicted in Tony Kytes are portrayed as not yet being trapped by marital confinements or, in fact, by society. However, these women obviously still see marriage as a priority. It is evident from each of the stories that the values of society clearly made an enormous contribution to the choices the women made regarding marriage. The fictional actions of each of the women were dictated by the societies in which Hardy leads the reader to believe they exist within (although Anna and the three women from Tony Kytes were implicitly drawn into believing that marriage was a positive concept). Society, as today, heavily influenced and even overrode the woman's desires to make their own decisions. Society concealed the true realities of marriage and paraded it as a desirable concept for which one should aim to achieve. Sexism was rife and women had far fewer rights and were less respected than men of their time. ?? ?? ?? ?? Katherine Courtenay 11DB 1 ...read more.

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