The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of Thomas Hardy Short Stories. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 and died in his late eighties. As a child Thomas Hardy spent most of his time in a small village near the edge of a wild moor land, which he called Egdon Heath in his stories. Hardy’s early years were spent at home in front of a warm fire with his grandmother and parents telling him stories about the neighbourhood that they had lived in for generations.
Hardy’s “Wessex tales” and many other stories were all based on what he had seen through out his life and named his surroundings with what he wanted such as the nearest town, Dorchester, was changed to Casterbridge.
Thomas Hardy created “Wessex”, and his short stories, like “Wessex Tales”. Wessex is based on a real worldly environment, an area in the South West of England that in real life includes counties such as Dorset, Somerset, Oxfordshire and Devon.
In the days before televisions and films and in countries where many could not read, people still loved stories. Instead of seeing or reading them they heard them. People told each other stories and gossiped about what is happening around the neighbourhood, which was very small at the time.
Since “The Superstitious mans story” is written in an anecdotal style it connects with how people used to gossip. At the beginning of “The Superstitious mans story” the words, “as you may know” are used giving readers an instant clue that this story is anecdotal.
By using this anecdotal style Hardy immediately captures the reader’s attention by making them feel part the story. Hardy takes particular care to establish this style and uses dialect words to add authenticity such as, “he came near ‘ee;” and “who told me o’t,”.
The text is written in the 3rd person, which gives the sense of a speaking voice with the narrator telling a past event to someone else about ‘William Privett’. “The Superstitious mans story” is set around l891, which was when it was written. Hardy creates suspense by the description of William Privett as a person who gave you “the chills” if he stood behind you, “anywhere behind your back…. close by tour elbow”. The general structure of “The Superstitious mans story” is episodical, and each one begrudges a totally different storyline than the next.
The point of writing the story in episodes is to hold back certain information and, in turn increase tension and drama and keep us wondering what is going to happen next. In all of his stories the writer puts ‘little hints’ forward to make us vary of what is going to happen next and try and make us understand the true horror of the story. He uses them to suggest that something rather conspicuous is going to happen. Such hints as “William was in good health, to al in appearance”.
The writer could have just said “William is in good health” but by adding “to all appearance” it makes us think more of what is going to happen. The Ending of “The Superstitious mans story” is predictable as you instantly expect that William Privett goes into the church on midsummer’s eve and does not come out again, he is going to die. According to superstitions anyone who goes to church on midsummer’s eve and not come out again is alleged to die in the near future. However what is not predictable is the anti-climax that the writer adds on to the story for effect.
He states that William Privett is seen again, after he is dead at the spring where his son had died. This was rather unusual or strange in the context of the story because we did not know about his son dying and also did not expect William Privett to be seen again. Another of Thomas Hardy’s stories titled “The Withered Arm” is great in description as he uses this innate gift to express someone or something in the deepest form which could actually help the reader picture the person or object clearly.
First of all, we can see clearly that marriages could only happen between people of the same class and that it could only be between social equals and this is one of the aspects of that the society judged a person on. Farmer Lodge was of a high class so married Gertrude, a beautiful young lady, also of high class. By doing this Farmer Lodge left Rhoda, who is of lower class. The reason why Rhoda sends her son to spy on Farmer Lodge’s new wife is to see if she is of equal society and is more beautiful, which was also looked on by society – the appearance of a person.
Rhoda presumes Farmer Lodge married Gertrude because she is beautiful and well off. This can be proven by the quote, “And if she seems like a woman who has ever worked for a living, or one that has been well off, and never done anything, and shows marks of a lady on her, as I expect she do”. Another major point of society was their superstitions, and the effects they had on people’s character. Superstition is first introduces in “The Withered Arm”, is through the dream Rhoda Brook has, and how society made certain people victims of their superstitions making them victims of societies beliefs.
This is proven by the quote, “she knew that she had slyly called a witch since her fall”. This is written when Rhoda Brook wonders if she did have powers after she had a dream of Gertrude where she hurts her and she finds out that she really is and begins to question. The impact of society can be seen when Gertrude finds out that her husband likes her less because of her withered arm and because of that, she longs and craves for a solution and tries many cures, which turns her into a superstitious person as she is willing to believe in any cure just to get her husbands attention and love back once more.
In this story we see Farmer Lodge’s clothes as, “big great golden seals hung like a lord” while Gertrude wore a, “White bonnet and a silver coloured gown” showing Hardy’s descriptive talents, which makes one understand that the way they dressed, was with so much sophistication and this clearly showed their position in the neighbourhood. The Withered Arm” tends to be based on unfairness in society as people are said to be hung for minor things such as, “horse stealing”, “arson” and “burglary”, and sometimes not for the genuine reason of committing a crime, but so that an example would be set for other people so as to not to make the same mistake.
This is shown when Thomas Hardy writes, “they are obliged to make an example of him, there have been so much destruction of property lately”. Nevertheless, “The Distracted Preacher”, another of Thomas Hardy’s collection is tragic as it based on how pious people were in Victorian times about religion. The Distracted Preacher” is set in a town called Nether-Moynton, which was recreated by Hardy from a place near Dorchester called Owre Moyne (Owermoigne). Again society shows how people reacted towards appearance. The minister was good looking so it caused people to say, “Why didn’t we know of this before he came, that might have gived him a warmer welcome! ” With “To Please His Wife” Being bases on how a class in society and being well dressed can give you some powers over women and marriage.
Overall I think that Thomas Hardy recreated his life time by using multiple storylines as “The Superstitious Mans Story” is based on superstition, and “The Withered Arm” based on how beauty and appearance affects status in society. “The Distracted Preacher” is based on, to some extent, religion and “To Please His Wife” is about authority and jealousy affecting true love. All of these ‘life-like’ events are events that take place in someone’s life, and some how these collections of stories are like a deeply evolved and highly detailed diary of Thomas Hardy’s life.