The Withered Arm Essay

Published: 2021-06-29 01:25:20
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How are the men in the two stories, ‘The Withered Arm’ and ‘Sweat’, portrayed? How far does this portrayal reflect the contexts in which the stories were written? The Withered Arm, written by Thomas Hardy and Sweat, written by Zora Neale Hurston both have a setting in a rural area. Both stories use dialect, however Sweat contains a stronger use. In both stories, the end is anticipated in the beginning and their titles reflect the contexts of the stories. The Withered Arm, which was written in the 19th Century, is partly set on a diary farm in the imaginary village of Holmstoke and town of Casterbridge in Wessex.
The story involves a triangle situation with one man ‘Farmer Lodge’ and two women ‘Rhoda’ and ‘Gertrude’. These three people are the main characters of The Withered Arm. Farmer Lodge’s mistress Rhoda, is the mother of his child John, and Rhoda soon becomes jealous when she hears of Farmer Lodge’s new wife Gertrude. Many problems arise when Gertrude has a withered arm and dies along with the death of Farmer Lodge’s son. In the story, Farmer Lodge is portrayed as a man with great means. He is the offspring of land, which has been owned by his family for over two hundred years.
Evidence of this is shown on page 42 “… Family who occupied the valley for some two hundred years”. Farmer Lodge is portrayed as a proud man. This is shown when he brings his new wife home in his bright handsome gig (his car), after successful dealings in the town. Evidence of this is on page 27. Farmer Lodge heightens with pride when he makes his first public appearance with his bride Gertrude. Farmer Lodge was aware beforehand that people would be fixated on Gertrude, and this is shown on page 27 when he said “O yes.
You must expect to be stared at just at first, my pretty Gertrude”. Appearances seem to be important to Farmer Lodge, because his first relationship, or better yet his affair with Rhoda happened when Rhoda was at the tender age of seventeen. But then a floating question comes to mind, ‘What would attract Farmer Lodge to a seventeen year old? ‘ Currently Thomas Hardy describes Rhoda as “more of the strength that endures in her well-defined features and large frame”. This description is quite fair and not degrading, so we could imagine her image when she was seventeen.
To answer the floating question, at the age of seventeen Rhoda would have been a girl of a much noticeable attraction to which Farmer Lodge would have been drawn to. This was repeated when Gertrude enters the story. Similar to the age of when Rhoda first met Farmer Lodge, Gertrude is a nineteen-year-old bride. A clear picture of her is seen through the eyes of Farmer Lodge’s son who comments on her features when he says ‘Her hair is lightish and her face as comely as live dolls’ page 27, ‘She is not tall.
She is rather short’, ‘She’s very pretty – very. In fact she’s lovely’ page 30. To summarize what Rhoda Brooks’s son is trying to say is that Gertrude is a small, pretty young woman, doll-like, with fair hair and a soft skin complexion. I believe only her looks is an attraction to Farmer Lodge, as Rhoda’s looks was once an attraction to him, page 27 “Made her dark eyes, that had once been handsome”; could this be why the relationship with Farmer Lodge and Rhoda failed, because her looks had differed?

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