Fate in two short stories by Thomas Hardy - Sample Essay
My task is to choose three different characters from “The Withered Arm” and “The Melancholy Hussar”, both written by Thomas Hardy. I then have to answer the question “Is life fair? Fate in two short stories by Thomas Hardy. ” To answer this question I will take each character, say how they have “ended up” and I will say whether the way they have behaved in the story merits this ending. The three characters I have chosen from each story are : – The Withered Arm * Farmer Lodge * Gertrude * Rhoda The Melancholy Hussar * Phyllis * Matthi?? us Tina * Humphrey Gould.
Characters from “The Withered Arm” In “The Withered Arm” fate seems to have treated Farmer Lodge well – “The driver was a yeoman” – which means that he is a man of property/substance and is doing well in life. Farmer Lodge dies of a “painless decline”, even though throughout the story you are made to believe that he isn’t a very nice man. He ignores his own son – “The farmer, though he seemed annoyed at the boy’s persistent presence… ” Farmer Lodge pretends he doesn’t even know who the boy is – “One of the neighbourhood. I think he lives with his mother a mile or two off.
” Farmer Lodge also doesn’t seem to care much for Rhoda either – even though she is the mother of his child. He lets Rhoda carry on being a milkmaid and caring for their son, without caring. However, Farmer Lodge does care for his wife Gertrude as he advises her to go and see a doctor about her arm. This might not be out of caring though, as you find out later on in the book. He probably told Gertrude to go and see a doctor, so that her arm was better and so he didn’t have to see it any more. You get the impression that Farmer Lodge married Gertrude because she was young and beautiful and that she married Farmer Lodge because he was wealthy.
However, this is mainly what Gertrude thinks and she only seems to want her arm cured so that she is beautiful again. Farmer Lodge wants Gertrude to be happy and does show signs of caring for Gertrude – “I only meant it for your good, you know, Gertrude. ” Gertrude thinks that Farmer Lodge dislikes his wife’s disfigurement, which makes her believe that he loves her less. After Gertrude’s arm becomes “withered” their marriage falls to pieces. Gertrude becomes obsessed with her disfigurement and no longer talks to Farmer Lodge.
She thinks that he loves her less because of the way she looks, but their marriage probably falls to pieces and they grow further and further apart because there is a lack of communication between them. Farmer Lodge doesn’t seem like a very nice man throughout this story, but at the end you change your mind. “Burdened at first with moodiness and remorse he eventually changed for the better, and appeared as a chastened and thoughtful man. ” All through the story Hardy makes you believe Farmer Lodge isn’t a very nice man, but then he changes and sells his farms.
He then gives all his money towards a reformatory for boys, and also gives a small annuity to Rhoda. This shows that after all, even if it didn’t seem like it, he did care – and he deserved a painless death. Life treated him well, and towards the end he eventually changed and corrected his mistakes. Gertrude, however did not deserve to die the way she did. She “never reached home alive” and died “three days after” the accident. Gertrude never did anything to harm anyone, in fact she did quite the opposite. “She gives away things to other folks in the meads beside us.
” All Gertrude did was to try and help people that were less fortunate than herself. Gertrude never did anything to Rhoda either, she didn’t know that Rhoda and Farmer Lodge had a child together, and that he ignored both of them. Gertrude isn’t to blame for the disfigurement of her arm, but still she and Farmer Lodge fall out of love – “Six years of marriage, and only a few months of love,” The only reason that Gertrude was at the conviction of Rhoda’s son was so that she could make her arm better. She didn’t know that it was Rhoda’s son at the time – only when Rhoda turned up behind her.
She did however wish for someone to die. “Gertrude wellnigh longed for the death of a fellow creature. ” She even prayed for someone to die so that her arm could be cured. She knew that when someone was going to be executed she could try and cure her arm – but she should have thought that it might have been someone she knew. She didn’t however go to the execution out of an act of spite; it was pure coincidence (a bad one at that! ) that it was Rhoda’s son who got executed. I do not think that Gertrude deserved to die this way. Life did not treat her fair, and then she had a painful death.
She never harmed anyone – she donated clothes to people, and always tried to please her husband. She died in pain, and knowing that her husband loved her less because of her arm, which she didn’t deserve at all. Fate does not treat Rhoda well in this story either. She is the only character that lives though – “Her monotonous milking at the dairy was resumed. ” In the very first page we know she has been treated unfairly – “a thin, fading woman” – no one takes notice of her, and it’s as if she’s not even there. Farmer Lodge treats Rhoda unfairly too.
They had a child together, then he left her and pretends that he doesn’t even know Rhoda or her son. All he has ever done for Rhoda, is let her carry on being a milkmaid and has forgotten her. Rhoda is jealous that Farmer Lodge and Gertrude are married, and are in love, which makes Rhoda even lonelier. Rhoda lives her life thinking that Gertrude is something bad, and when she finds Gertrude at her son’s conviction she is very angry, and thinks that Gertrude is trying to come between her and her son – “Hussy – to come between us and our child now!
” It is no surprise that Rhoda is angry, as her son had just died. Nothing seems to go right for Rhoda throughout the whole story – she is left with a child to cope on her own, and is ignored by the father. Then she has the awful dream about Gertrude, and her son is then convicted. I do not think Rhoda deserved to die at all, and it is a good thing that she lived and carried on milking at the dairy. If anyone deserved to carry on living it was Rhoda, because maybe after Farmer Lodge and Gertrude had gone she would no longer be jealous and she’d be able to get on with her life.
Characters from “The Melancholy Hussar” Phyllis died at the age of 75, probably of old age – as it does not say she died in any other way. Phyllis lived a happy life most of the time, except when life treated her unfairly. She was engaged to Humphrey Gould, who didn’t treat her well and never came back on the dates that he promised. “This neglect of her was awkward, if not painful” Phyllis then fell in love with Matthi?? us, because she never really loved Humphrey. She could have gone to live with Matthi?? us, but she thought staying home was the right thing to do.
She had by now realised that even though she loved Matthi?? us, it was “so wild as it was, so vague, so venturesome. ” Fate did not treat her fairly, as Humphrey then told her that he had already married someone else. This proves that the right things are not always the best things to do. Phyllis could have gone with Matthi?? us after all. I think that it is unfair that Phyllis chose the wrong thing to do, but she still had happy memories with Matthi?? us, even though she saw him shot. She died at 75 years old, and deserved to go on living to an old age.
Phyllis may not have lived a completely happy life, and life may not have treated her fairly but she knew that Matthi?? us loved her, and that’s all she needed to know. “I care more for a minute of your company than for all the promotion in the world” Matthi?? us cared a lot for Phyllis, he called her his “beloved” and couldn’t wait until the next time he saw her – every time, which shoes that he did love Phyllis and she knew. Fate does not treat Matthi?? us Tina well in this story either. He was “shot for desertion. ” I don’t think that he deserved this at all.
He fell in love with Phyllis, then wanted to move away with her, and when she decided not to, he respected her wishes. I do not think it is fair that Matthi?? us was killed, he never did anything wrong. Like Phyllis, he chose what he thought was the right thing to do – because he didn’t want to let his friend down by not turning up – and it turned out to be the wrong thing to do, because they were both killed. Humphrey Gould, from what we understand does not die, and goes back to live with his wife he married instead of Phyllis.
If life was fair, Humphrey Gould would have died, and Matthi?? us would have lived – but then life is indeed not fair! During the story, Humphrey treated Phyllis badly, by marrying someone else when they were supposedly engaged. Then when he came back to tell her, he had the cheek to ask Phyllis to cover up for him by telling his father that she never could have married him. Humphrey never did anything for anyone for himself, and when he got himself into a mess he tried to get other people to cover up for him.
If anyone deserved to die it would have been Humphrey. Conclusion I have found out that in Hardy’s stories life was not fair. Gertrude (The withered arm) did not deserve to die the way she did at all, she was innocent. Although Farmer Lodge, was not a very nice man throughout the story – the very last page made you realise he wasn’t that bad and he deserved a “painless decline. ” Rhoda did not have a very good life, but she carried on to live – her life probably improved after Farmer Lodge had moved away. In The Melancholy Hussar Phyllis and Matthi??
us should have been able to live together, and Humphrey Gould should have died! However this would have been too perfect. Life was not fair for Phyllis or Matthi?? us. Matthi?? us was killed, but Phyllis went on living until she was old -which she deserved. Humphrey Gould did not deserve to carry on living a happy life, because he treated Phyllis unfairly. I have also noticed a similarity between both stories. Farmer Lodge did not treat Rhoda well and Humphrey Gould didn’t treat Phyllis well – both women wanted to be loved and lost that person in the end.