The Withered Arm
In the short story entitled the withered arm, Thomas Hardy introduces us to a world in which single, working class women, are faced with enormous difficulties. A rich farmer called Lodge has dumped Rhoda Brook a milkmaid in her 30s. She lived in a cottage, which is falling into disrepair in a rural village in the West Country round about the 19th century. She was a very poor woman and had to try and feed herself and her own son. They both must off had a very poor diet. They also have very poor clothes and rags and the boy’s shoes are falling apart.
They were that bad they caught the attention of a stranger called Gertrude farmer Lodges new wife who had brought him a new pair. Rhoda worked very hard for very little money a day. She Worked as a milkmaid, she got up very early in the morning and got back very late for very little. The work she did was physically draining she had to be a very strong woman to keep going. The rumors of Rhoda being a witch would of made her life harder than it was because she would off been scared off being hurt or killed for being a witch or even her son being bullied about it.
Her life would off been hard without all off these other problems to go with it. Just because she was a woman. Men were very sexist and just used woman as sex objects. Men went for good looks and never would they see how there personality was. This would off made Rhoda Brook think she was worthless and she wouldn’t have the confidence in herself again. We realize that farmer Lodge is in many ways a self-centered man. At the moment where his son meets Lodge and Gertrude, as he drives his new wife Gertrude into the village for the first time, he feels very awkward.
We realize that his son is treated like he’s own father doesn’t even want to know him that would off been hard to cope with. Farmer Lodge tries to ignore him as much as he could. He was very relieved when he got away from the boy but when he didn’t show that he took no notice of him; inside he took lots of notice of him. When Gertrude was asking questions about he boy farmer Lodge was lying and tried to make up that he didn’t know him at all. Farmer lodge was quick to change the subject so Gertrude wound not find anything about the boy ” Now then another mile and I shall be able to show you our house in the distance”.
We realize in the story farmer Lodge has no respect for women. All he looked for in a woman was good looks what Gertrude had he never went for personality. We know he just goes for good looks because he dumped Rhoda because she lost her looks. He has already lied to Gertrude about his own son. He had been trying to cover up that he didn’t have a son. But to Gertrude she wouldn’t of known at all what farmer Lodge is like. She would have just thought he was telling the truth about the boy. “He is one off the village, I suppose? ” Farmer lodge changed the subject as quickly as he could, so Gertrude wound not find out anything.
If she would off found out with out him telling her she would off thought she wouldn’t be able to trust him because he was a liar who had no respect for women. Gertrude realizes that farmer Lodge treats women according to looks. Men didn’t care about personality they just cared about looks. Now Gertrude’s arm has gone bruised and getting worse, this is making farmer Lodge dislike her and love her less. “It makes farmer Lodge dislike me-no love me less”. Gertrude isn’t the first woman to get treated like this. Rhoda also got dumped because she had lost he looks.
When Gertrude was speaking to Rhoda about men treating women bad and how they go for good looks. Rhoda says “some do he for one” this showed that Rhoda had experience because she’s been out with farmer lodge. But Gertrude still doesn’t know that. She finally come to think that men all they want is good looks when Rhoda says “keep your arm covered” this show that shows that Gertrude is scared because he might dump her because it makes he look less attractive. Rhoda is no longer resentful about being pushed out and replaced by Gertrude and she is pleased that Gertrude is losing her looks because she wants to teach farmer Lodge a lesson.
She is pleased she is losing her looks not because she did hate her for pushing her out but to get back at lodge. Rhoda didn’t want to tell Gertrude anything about her and lodge and that they have a son together because she didn’t want to inflict on her physical pain. She doesn’t want to inflict any pain or hurt on her. Rhoda wants to tell her about the dream she had off grabbing the arm but Gertrude might think she is a witch and the whole village would defiantly think she was a witch because there were rumors going round anyway.
The thing she doesn’t want to lose the most either is her only friend. Rhoda has never had a friend like Gertrude before. Rhoda would be frightened of Gertrude going to see conjuror trendle just in case the truth about the dream came out. This would off made her frightened because if Gertrude told the village then they would off thought she was a witch for sure, they already suspect her off being a witch because the rumors going round. “Conjuror trendle might name her”. The things she would be worried about would be her own sake if they think she’s a witch they might try and kill her or torture her.
She would be worried for her sons sake because he would be bullied by everyone shouting stuff at him and might think he is a freak or something because his mum is a witch and she would probably lose her only friend she has ever had if Gertrude was to find out that Rhoda did this she would hate her forever. Rhoda has never had anyone like her before to talk to. Rhoda is beginning to blame herself for all this because of the dream she had and there were already rumors going round she was a witch so maybe she is even starting to believe that she is a witch and everyone else is right
Rhoda comes to think she is a witch because Gertrude has come out of conjuror trendles cottage ‘ her face was met by the light it appeared exceedingly pale” so Rhoda would of thought that Gertrude has found out something about the dream and that it was Rhoda and that it was Rhoda all along who had cursed her. she probably thinks her face is pale because she is shock to find out that it was Rhoda all along because they were getting on so well and after all of it Rhoda had cursed her arm.
Rhoda thought that this would change Gertrude thoughts towards Rhoda . her companion had quite changed” and towards the friendship. Rhoda has coped aright up to the time Gertrude said she was going to go see the conjuror. When she said she was Rhoda was quite scared because she thinks Gertrude will find out it was her all along who cursed her arm. Rhoda tried making Gertrude not go because she was worried about her finding out and telling everyone. Rhoda is really anxious to find out what conjuror trendle said when Gertrude came out she wanted to know what Gertrude had seen in the basin “and what did you see” this shows she really wants to know if it was Rhoda she saw in the basin.
Farmer lodge begins to think that Rhoda and Gertrude are judgments from heaven teaching him about how he has mistreated women. “He thought Rhoda brook and her son; and feared this might b a judgment from heaven upon him”. He thought this because his wife could not have a baby so no one could take over the farm and carry on the family name. He was thinking of adopting his own son back to take over the farm and carry on the family name but he was to old to adopt. Lodge would off been able to have him to carry on the farm if he wouldn’t of shut the boy out of his life. When Rhoda leaves with her son she starts getting threw to him.
This makes him think that he has lost his only chance of having someone to take over the family name what has been going for some 200 years this is making him question his previous Behavior and mistreatment to women. He also thinks his wife Gertrude is a part of this judgment from heaven because she is losing her good looks and she cant have a baby. Lodge starts to feel guilty about the way he has treated his son. We can start to see this when he says “I once thought of adopting a boy; but he is to old now” this shows that he had wanted to adopt his own son to take over the family name.
But I think he starts to realize that he just wanted to use his son Just to take over the farm and the family name. But he starts to realize that this was wrong and there are signs that he is feeling guilty about this because his son “has gone away” and farmer lodge wants to know where but he “doesn’t know ” this shows that he is feeling guilty because Rhoda has taken him away and lodge realizes that if he would of treated him and Rhoda better there would b someone to take over the farm and the family name.
I think Rhoda wanted lodge to attend court for his son’s trial because she wanted lodge to see what he had turned his son into doing. Rhoda has defiantly got through to him because he is starting to feel ashamed he doesn’t want to show his face because of the things people would be saying about him. Her husband was never seen in caster bridge again once only in the old market- place at angle bury, which he had so much frequent and very seldom in public anywhere burdened at first with moodiness and rumors he even totally changed for the better and appeared as a chastened and thoughtful man” this shows Rhoda got through to him because he gives his land and money away. He gave money. He gave money to Rhoda but she didn’t want it she must have been think I have survived my self for this long I don’t need his money now. Then lodge gives his money to a boy informatory he must be feeling really guilty about everything he has done.