Withered Arm Analysis

1159 words 5 pages
Thomas Hardy- The withered arm and other Wessex tales

“How does Thomas hardy portray the role of female characters in at least two of his stories?”

As a child, Thomas Hardy was told tales and traditions by –not only his father- but his mother and grandmother. He has a lot of female family members around him. Many of hardy’s stories are loosely based on his own life and experiences.

‘The withered arm’ is ‘full of memories of Hardy’s youth’ and includes some of his experiences. Thomas Hardy once told an ‘admirer’ that ‘The son’s veto’ was his ‘best short story’. This is most probable because it is a story which shows strong feeling against class distinction, prejudice and snobbery. This is why I’ll be choosing these two stories out
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Hardy’s technique has kept us interested and thinking. He doesn’t tell us everything straight away. This is also the way he develops the characters. The way he allows us to get to know them is by telling us things indirectly. By the end of the story, readers hate Farmer Lodge from every angle possible. Hardy doesn’t have time to beat about the bush but reveals things all in good time.

The main female character in ‘the son’s veto’ is Sophy. She is portrayed as a pathetic figure with a regional dialect (‘I liked ‘ee’) who has no independence and is bound to a wheelchair. But, like Gertrude, she is a good person who likes to please people other than herself.

When Sophy is moved from her surroundings, she is pitiable. Rhoda also had to move but that was of guilt more than anything else. Rhoda was a very strong sort of woman whilst sophy seems to be a very sensitive person – almost like Gertrude. The two characters are rather similar. Both of them had to marry men much elder than themselves and suffered as a result.

Sophy’s main problem is her illiteracy. Hardy critically describes how sophy failed to learn the things she had been taught. Sophy’s son, Randolph (who is a priest) dislikes his mother’s obvious difference very much. As time goes by he is pretty much intolerant. He is selfish and arrogant. All of his humane feelings are removed which contradicts his religious beliefs.


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