Most of the novels he wrote were depressing and ironic. The Withered Arm is one of many Thomas Hardy short novels, it is set in the late 1800s in a village called Holmstoke that has a small rural community of mostly milkmaids. There are three main characters in this novel they consist of: Farmer Lodge; a wealthy and respected man, who is well known for his good reputation. Also there is Rhoda Brook; a not so wealthy woman and less fortunate than Farmer Lodge with a reputation of being a witch. Lastly there is also Gertrude Lodge; she is Farmer Lodges new wife.
.. They say shes rosy-cheeked, titsy-totsy little body enough. This indicates that she is a pretty woman with a perfect body. In opposition Rhoda isnt very popular with the other workers she is described as A thin, fading woman of thirty milked somewhat apart from the rest. This emphasies that although she has been there for many years people still dont like her. The relationship between Farmer Lodge and Gertrude is that they are a newly married couple in the village that are madly in love with each other, Farmer Lodge literally worships Gertrude.
All eyes were fixed upon her This quotation gives a vision of a new, young beauty walking through a public place and everybodys eyes follow her up the street. Farmer Lodge is always gloating and saying how beautiful she is: The well-to-do Farmer Lodge came nearly last; and his young wife, who accompanied him, walked up the aisle with the shyness natural to a modest woman who had appeared thus for the first time. This shows us that Farmer Lodge did this on purpose so heand Gertrude would become centre of attention because they are the most popular and talked about couple, also this would make everyone notice how pretty Gertrude is.
Rhoda Brook and Farmer Lodge had a relationship in the past, which then ends when Rhoda falls pregnant. Rhoda would have become an outcast of the society having brought some shame and embarrassment not only for her, but for Farmer Lodge as well for having a baby outside of marriage. Also Farmer Lodge could not take the humiliation of him having a relationship with a lower class lady, who is just a milkmaid. A while after their relationship Farmer Lodge meets Gertrude; they fall madly in love and get married but does poor Gertrude know what shes got herself into?
Farmer Lodge has been lying to Gertrude and has kept a secret about his past relationship and the fact that he has a son. The basic gist of the story is that Rhoda Brook becomes extremely jealous of Gertrude and her beauty; she is always thinking about her as a result Rhoda starts to envy Gertrude and hatred is caused. Rhoda has a dream, in which she saw Gertrude as an old ugly woman: .. with features shockingly distorted, and wrinkled as by age..
I think this reflects Rhodas feelings about Gertrude very well because, as we already know she is jealous of her beauty and she has created Gertrude to look like this to calm and reassure herself because Rhoda knows she is losing her looks. This dream causes Gertrudes arm some terrible pain the morning after the reason for this being is that Rhoda dreamt of her grabbing Gertrudes arm and swinging her .. Swung out her right hand, seized the confronting spectre by its obtrusive left arm, and whirled it backwards to the floor..
The arm becomes worse and it comes to a point when Gertrude is desperate for a cure but cannot find one. In the meantime, Farmer Lodges love slowly drifts as her arm withers towards the end and she discovers that the only cure is to put her arm onto a hanged mans neck as told by Conjurer Trendle. In The Withered Arm there are many tragedies but the main one is of course, Gertrudes withered arm. It was the one that was shocking and disturbing especially towards Rhoda and Gertrude. With Rhodas witchcraft powers she wonders if it was actually her who caused the withered arm.
There was a supernatural force to this tragedy and it was unavoidable to Rhoda. Rhoda only had the dream because she envied Gertrude If the sweet and kindly Gertrude Lodge only knew of the dream-scene in the bed-chamber, what would she think? This quote emphasises that Rhoda was feeling guilty about having such an evil dream and that after meeting Gertrude she realised that she is a good person. Tragedy is the main theme of the novel and it symbolises an event that is usually bad, which ends in a dramatic way, which is often unexpected.
Tragedies can be caused by peoples actions or decisions, which can have unpleasant effects, and it could have been avoided if people took more care and consideration in one anothers actions. A tragedy can lead to an un-happy life. Blame is also a keyword in this novel because it provokes guilt and regret, which is exactly the feeling of Farmer Lodge especially, towards the end of the novel but also towards Rhoda. Blame means to be held responsible or being the cause of something. To be blamed means holding someone guilty for something theyve done wrong, or in some cases theyve done nothing wrong.
However, sometimes things can go wrong and someone needs to blame a person, even if it is not their fault, just to rest their minds. To be blamed for something can give someone a bad reputation. I believe that Farmer Lodge is to be held responsible for the tragedy; firstly because he left Rhoda whilst she was pregnant with his child. Secondly; He married Gertrude and finally; Farmer Lodges love for Gertrude fading. If he had never left Rhoda then I think she would never have put some kind of a curse on Farmer Lodge and Gertrude would not have been affected by it.
I do not feel sympathetic for Farmer Lodge because he was the main cause of the tragedy and he started all the troubles before realising the consequences. I think Farmer Lodge should have told Gertrude about his past relationship because I think Gertrude would understand and she wouldnt be worried about his past relationship because she is convinced that Farmer Lodge is in love with her. Also she would be happy of the fact that Farmer Lodge hasnt been keeping any lies from her and that he is being truthful.
In my opinion Farmer Lodge to me is a cold hearted man towards Gertrude and his son ¦ Oh no. He hant spoke to Rhoda Brook for years. This expresses that he hadnt only spoken to them for a long time but he also did not care for Rhoda and their son. Farmer Lodge loved Gertrude for her looks and that she was younger than he was. The woman whom he had wooed for her grace and beauty¦ . Having a beautiful younger wife made Farmer Lodge feel good and look good about himself; he wanted to show the community that he is still capable of attracting a pretty woman no matter what the past.
Farmer Lodge is a vein man, appearance and reputation is very important to him. When Gertrudes arm started to wither it became obvious that Farmer Lodge started to dislike her because he thought she was losing her beauty it also made Gertrude depressed because she realised that her arm was making her less attractive and that Farmer Lodge was not showering her with love as he usually did .. Mr and Mrs Lodges married experience sank into prosiness, and worse. The farmer was usually gloomy and silent¦
Six years of marriage and only a few months of love Towards the end of the novel, we discover two more tragedies that have a disturbing impact on all three characters. By this time we know that Gertrude has become desperate and very impatient of finding a cure for her arm. When she goes to visit Conjurer Trendle, he tells her the only cure is to place her arm on a hanged mans neck, although she is a bit hesitant as to what she has to do, Gertrude is still determined to give it a try She started a little at the image he had raised..
Little did innocent Gertrude know that the person she is using to cure her disfigment is Rhodas son who was hung because he was accused of arson. Soon after Gertrude realised who it was she could not take the stress and she became ill; physically and mentally. The shock of everything that had happened to her caused her to die. When Gertrude and Rhodas son both died, I think thats when Farmer Lodge became softer and sensitive. He felt guilty for everything he did to Rhoda and how he treated both Rhoda and Gertrude.
He left his money to a boys charity and gave some to Rhoda so that she could manage on her own. Burdened at first with moodiness and remorse, he eventually changed for the better, and appeared as a chastened and thoughtful man. To conclude this essay I have decided that Farmer Lodge is responsible for all the tragedies that occurred within The Withered Arm. He should not have left Rhoda bringing up their child on her own without any support. Farmer Lodge leaving Rhoda made her become curious and jealous when he re-married to Gertrude, as a result this feeling caused Rhoda to have a dream.
Gertrude was affected because it caused her arm to gradually wither until it came to a point when the arm was cureless by any ointment or medication. If Farmer Lodge had been a good father and frequently helped his son and Rhoda out with financial difficulties maybe no tragedies would occur and everything would have been normal. Gertrude died of not having the satisfaction of a cured arm and being loved and feeling beautiful again. I think Gertrude did not deserve to have a difficult and miserable life. She was an innocent and kindhearted woman who was just madly in love with her newly wed husband.