In the following essay I seek to show evidence of how Thomas Hardy was
acutely aware of the social status of people, how village and town
life was conducted, how men and women reacted to their own sex and to
each other and the part religion played in people's daily lives.
Social class is raised a lot in Hardy's pieces. Even though these
stories were all written at a different time and then put together,
you can see it is a strong theme in the book.
In the Withered Arm, there is instantly a strong sense of upper and
lower class. You learn of a milkmaid named, Rhoda Brook, and hear of
her story among gossipers at the farm. She was once attached to the
boss, a Mr. Lodge but because of their differences in class Mr. Lodge
ends their relationship, leaving Rhoda with a child. This shows that
the upper class can not mix with lower class as it jeopardizes their
appearance. This makes the reader feel sympathetic towards Rhoda.
Later on in the same story Rhoda desperately needs to know about
Farmer Lodges new wife and sends her son out so he can report back and
describe the newly Mrs. Lodge. The wife is described as, "A lady
complete," who is more suited to the proud Farmer Lodge. This is a
comparison between Rhoda and Mrs. Lodge, and how Mr. Lodge could not
bear to be seen with Rhoda, but is very proud of this complete lady.
This is an example of vanity.
A comparison between the upper and lower class in this story is the
way characters from the lower class believe in superstition and the
upper class don't like to be involved in it. An example of this is
... middle of paper ...
I found in these short stories that town and village life, religion
and class are all linked. In towns most of the population being of a
higher class were snobby but behaved poorly, where in the lower
classes of the villages, although they were thought to have lower
morals, they acted in a purer way. Religion is linked with this by the
way the clergy were higher class and religious and therefore assumed
to have higher morals, but they didn't always live by them. In these
short stories I have also found that men have been shown to be
dominant, but shallower than women.
Thomas Hardy came from a small village and a lower class family but
then became skilled and educated. He eventually moved to London and
his social class improved. His own experiences and feelings of life
were probably used to write these tales.
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