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Explain how the role of women is presented in two of Hardy's short stories.

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Introduction

EXPLAIN HOW THE ROLE OF WOMEN IS PRESENTED IN TWO OF HARDY'S SHORT STORIES. After reading Thomas Hardy's 'The Withered Arm' and 'The Melancholy Hussar,' I really pity the women who had to take second place to others depending on their class and social status. Women then, had no privileges like education and had no financial power whatsoever. They had to obey the main men in their lives; Fathers and husbands dominated women and, no matter how wealthy their backgrounds was, the women had no say in decision-making or relationships. The role of women in society is vividly described in both of Hardy's stories through three characters; Rhoda Brook, a dairy maid, Gertrude Lodge, the wife of a wealthy farmer and Phyllis Grove, the daughter of a retired doctor. Rhoda Brook in 'The Withered Arm' was branded 'a fallen woman' and soiled goods because of her illegitimate son. ...read more.

Middle

Gertrude Lodge was from a higher class of society than Rhoda, she was married to Farmer Lodge and she had to constantly obey her husband, stealing her independence. Rules of social convention had to be followed, this meant that the ladylike Gertrude was considered as an appropriate partner for wealthy Farmer Lodge, whereas, Rhoda, being a common milkmaid, would never have an acceptable spouse. The relationship between Farmer Lodge and Rhoda should never have been, considering the fact that she was lower class, thus proving the double standards of society. Gertrude being 'a lady complete,' pretty and polite, was proudly paraded around the parish by her husband. He was not rejected in society even though he had fathered a son to a poor milkmaid and disowned both of them. Society's double standards had taken their toll on poor Rhoda instead of wealthy Lodge. ...read more.

Conclusion

She was powerless to marry the man she really loved because of her obedience and loyalty to her father. All this resulted in Phyllis having to follow the unwritten rules of society by forsaking her true love; marriage to a hussar would have been totally unacceptable and against social convention which was of great importance two hundred years ago. People had a manner of behaving which was regarded as customary. Phyllis and Rhoda had to conduct themselves appropriately in accordance with etiquette. Hardy's portrayal of those times relays the impression of how women were belittled and governed in society by men. Men had to display evidence of a high standing and what better way to do so, than by showing authority by domineering any women associated with their lives. Only a very courageous man or woman would have dared to break the social code. DIANNE COLHOUN ...read more.

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