In this essay, I shall outline how Hardy shows people to be victims of social, historical and cultural circumstances in “The Withered Arm”. “The Withered Arm” is set in an area which Hardy calls ‘Dorchester’. The story was set in the 1800 where witchcraft and believing in superstition was popular. Thomas Hardy was born in Upper Bockhampton, near Dorchester where he went to school. Thomas Hardy was the son of a stonemason. He was born in Upper Bockhampton, near Dorchester where he went to school. Once qualified, he moved to work with a company that specialized in church architecture.
It was at this time, he began to write poetry to several magazines which were all rejected. Hardy’s real success came in 1974 with the serialisation of “Far From the Madding Crowd”. This was followed by other popular novels such as ‘The return of the Native’ (1878), ‘The Mayo’ and ‘The Woodlander’. Thomas Hardy died on 1928. In “The Withered Arm”, women and children were considered inferior copared to men. They had no right but to follow orders from their superiors. We see this when Farmer Lodge orders Gertrude not to see Rhoda anymore.
I believe Farmer Lodge did not marry Rhoda because his image of being the farm owner would get ruined as Rhoda was a poor milkmaid. I think this is wrong because he should have treated her as a human with equal rights as him. He should not have had an affair with her in the first place. However Rhoda was not as ‘beautiful’ as Gertrude. Farmer Lodge thought that his workers ‘belonged’ to him and he could treat them as he wished. Even if he did marry Rhoda, his farm, pride and popularity would go down. I believe Rhoda is victimized here because the community would not have cared whether Farmer Lodge ‘used her’. Now, I shall be looking closer at the three characters: Rhoda, the Boy and Farmer Lodge.
Firstly, I will be looking at Rhoda Brook. Rhoda has, to me, been victimized the most, not only by social circumstances but also emmotional. No one cared when she was pregnant not only was she poor, she also was a woman. This outlines how the community at Hardy’s time treated women differentely to men. Rhoda kept quiet to herself as she was emmotionally distraught. This made other people believe that she was a witch. Now, I will look at the Boy. He has no name to represent all the ‘bastards’. He is victimized by his mother as she orders him around.
We see this when he has ‘orders’ to find out Gertrudes features “… what colour is her hair? “,”Is she tall? ” The Boy is then ordered to find out whether she is taller than Rhoda “Then you go to Holmstoke church to-morrow… tell me if she’s taller than I. ” He also doesn’t talk to Farmer Lodge. He has to work all day with the thought of not having a father. He might not even know that Lodge had an affair with his mother. Finally, Farmer Lodge is victimized by his own shallowness and his power. He believes that by owning a farm entitles him to the workers too. He knows that the community would not do anything against him.
He took advantage of this. Farmer Lodge, in this story, has ruined four peoples lives including himself. In this story, Hardy has used standard English as the dialect spoken. He has portrait that the rights in the 1800’s were unfair. Thomas Hardy has used powerful and effective language in “The Withered Arm”. He has used similies in order to help me grasp the nature of the story “there in a the thatch above a rafter showed like a bone protruding about the poverty”. Hardy has used alliterations to help create images in the readers mind, and also the way that Hardy writes the dialect, brings out a sense of ‘Wessex’.
This also aids in creating an image on the culture of which the people lead their lives. In conclusion, Farmer Lodge, Rhoda and the Boy are victims of social, historical and cultural circumstances. Even today, people are victimized because of racism, prejudice and their beliefs. At the end of the story, Lodge has not got the courage to face Rhoda face to face but he tells another man that she is the owner of the farm. And after this “she appeared in her old parish” and “her monotonous milking at the dairy was resumed”.