Explore Hardy’s approach to the issue of the class in ‘The Withered Arm’, The Distracted Preacher’ and ‘The Son’s of Veto’ noting the effects of social, cultural or historical influences on the text. In the Withered Arm there is indication of any issue with class status, as you start the short story there is amidertly a issue with class, this starts with a conversion about Farmer Lodges new wife to be, all the milking maids are trying to work out who she is and what class she is in. Farmer Lodge had a relationship with Rhoda Brook, a milking maid, but that did not last because he was higher class and she was working class.
In the time this story was set it was unacceptable for a man of Farmer Lodge’s class to have a relationship with a woman like Rhoda who was lower class. This relationship was kept quiet, not many people knew about it. In Thomas Hardy’s work woman where always unimportant and men where very dominant, which is stated later on in the story where woman are not allowed to live by themselves or by a house themselves, it was always the man who would buy the house. As you read on Rhoda is intrigued into finding out a lot more about this new wife to be, so she asks her son of 12 years to go and try and find her to see what she ooked like. Rhode kept telling the boy the same type of things so you could tell that the boy had stopped listening and just kept saying ‘Yes, mother’.
After the boy had been out and spotted the new wife to be he went back and told his mother. His mother still wanted to know more so she sent him off again the next day to find out more information. The boy said ‘She’s very pretty – very. In fact she’s lovely. ‘ ‘That is all I want to hear’ said the mother; this indicated that she was very jealous of the new woman. A couple weeks later Rhoda has a dream where the now named wife, Gertrude, had come into her bedroom nd stood next to Rhoda’s bed, Rhoda had reached out and grabbed Gertrude’s arm and ‘whirled it backward to the floor’ The next day Gertrude came to the house of Rhoda and bought some handmade shoes for her son. She showed Rhoda a mark that had appeared on her arm on the same night that Rhoda had the dream; it was in the exact same place that Rhoda grabbed.
This is where the story starts to get a bit mystical. When this story was set people believed strongly in these mystical things happening, so when it did happen to Gertrude, Rhoda said ‘O, could it be’ this indicates that Rhoda is starting to believe that maybe he did really do this and she starts to think that she could be a Witch.
Rhoda then suggests that Gertrude goes to see Conjuror Trundle who is believed to have special powers which enables him to find out how these mystical things happen. When they arrive at Conjuror Trundle’s they go in and he states that he has not done anything like this for along time, but said that he could show Gertrude who did it but he would not be able to tell them the name. So he went and fetched a glass tumbler from a dresser and he filled it with water, then put the white of an egg into the water, as the egg and water mixed e held the glass up to the window and told Gertrude to watch the mixture closely.
Towards the end of ‘The Withered Arm’ the issue of class slowly fade’s away, as Rhoda who is lower class had become quite good friends with Gertrude who is higher class. In ‘The Distracted Preacher’ there is not really any indication of issue with class or gender, but if you were to try and read more into the story you see that the people who started the smuggling are all men, eventually the women get involved too.
The story starts with a young person named Mr Richard Stockdale entering the village. He had been summoned there to temporarily take he post of the person who usually leads the village church. Mr. Stockdale arrives at the village late at night and the only possible accommodation is to be found in the house of a widow called Mrs Lizzy Newberry. He is very astonished when, instead of the old woman he imagined her to be, Mrs Newberry turns out to be a very pretty young lady. Mr Stockdale soon gets fascinated by his charming landlady and eventually he must admit to himself that he has fallen in love with her. But at the same time the young Preacher cannot help noticing some strange things going on in the house.
This, as ell as the fact that Mrs. Newberry would often not leave her room until early afternoon, begins to preoccupy the young Preacher. He then, despite his great respect for this charming lady, demands an explanation for the things happening in and around the house. Eventually Mr Stockdale finds out that Lizzy Newberry, as well as most of the village’s other inhabitants are deeply involved in the smuggling business. This story has a historical side to it as at the time it is set is the time when a lot of England’s coasts where used to smuggle things into the country, this was around the 18th and 19th century.
The Son’s of Veto is the story that shows the issue of class most clearly. As Sophie was lower class but married into a higher-class society, doing this was seen as wrong, she tried to act as if she was a higher- class parson but this was not easy as her mannerisms still occurred many a time. She had a son named Randolph who was born in to the higher-class society. He went to a public school and later in life he trained to be a parson like his father; he mingled with all upper class people, which lead him to be embarrassed of his own mother. He did not like the fact that he had a lower class background.
After Sophie’s first marriage was over she wanted to remarry to a man named Sam. Her son would not allow her to do this because Sam was a lower class person. In the time period that this story was set women were to do what the man said, so Sophie obeyed her son and did not remarry to Sam. He even made her promise not to marry him; “Finally taking her before a little cross and alter……… He made her swear that she would not wed Samuel Hobson. ” Thomas Hardy only gave names to the important characters within his stories. He wrote about the people and places that he knew and incidents of his immediate experiences.