Good women- Bad men? - Sample Essay
I am going to discuss three stories by Thomas Hardy which have been accused of following the statement: Good women- Bad men. I shall discuss whether this statement is true to each story. Tess of the D’Urbervilles In ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ Tess has many ‘so called’ bad men in her life. In some ways these men are bad but I am going to argue that they are not all bad but just some of their actions may be. The first bad man in Tess’s life we come across could be her father. Tess’s father is portrayed as a drunken uncaring man, who does not do anything to help and support his family.
This may be why Tess has grown up in such a cramped run down place. At the beginning of the story, Tess’s father, Jack Durbeyfield, finds out he is of aristocratic descent. He then asks Tess if she would stay with their relatives in Tantridge, Tess refuses but the next day Tess accidentally kills the family horse Prince. And has to, due to her guilt, take up the offer her father proposed to her the day before. Some say this is her fathers fault as he is the reason Tess, an inexperienced driver, has to drive the carriage.
He cannot drive the cart as he had a few too many the night before. If he had not drunken any alcohol then he would have got up early and delivered the beehives to the retailers in Casterbridge. Also because of Jack Durbeyfield not being able to work his young child Abraham is awakened in the middle of the night to accompany Tess in her travels, yet another reason to label him a bad man. On the other hand Tess’s father is only trying to do what’s best for his family and by sending Tess to live with relatives he thinks that she may become something more than what he has.
The second bad man in Tess’s life is Alec Durbeyfield. Many things happen to Tess here, one of which is being raped by her so called cousin. She later finds that he has been lying to her and her family and he is not a D’Urberville he is in fact a Stoke. She becomes Alec’s mistress and finds out that she is pregnant and heads home. Alec is unaware that Tess is carrying his baby and if he had he may have acted more suitably and have changed his ways. But Tess does not give him the chance, this does not make her a good women.
Alec also comes back to Tess at the end of the story, which some men would never do. But some say that he only came back to her for sinister reasons. He is also a preacher when he and Tess meet again, this could mean that Alec has really changed and that he has turned over a new leaf. But this judgement can be counteracted by him luring Tess into marriage by calling her his by right and in the eyes of god. Tess is easily made to feel guilty (which Alec knows) and so uses this as a way to get Tess to marry him, making him a bad man. Also in this story there is the vicar.
Some say he was cruel not to let Tess’s bastard child be buried within the church walls, yet another bad man. But is he all bad? There are many good reasons for not letting the child have a Christian burial: One of these is that in letting the child have a Christian burial means that the vicar has gone against the words of the bible and in fact gone against God. Another could be that by doing this it would bring shame to the church and it could even perhaps cause other women with bastard children to ask for their children to be buried. But I think the main reason is social construct.
Tess’s lover Angel Clare is seen by Tess as wonderful man, until Tess tells him of her troubles with Alec in the past, where Angel becomes extremely agitated and uncomfortable with his new wife where he leaves Tess to go to Brazil. What makes this action worse is that before Tess tells him this he has told her of his past relations with an older woman, Tess accepts this. Not forgiving Tess once she has just forgiven him could make Angel a bad man but I do not think this. Any man would be slightly annoyed if his newly wed had in fact been someone’s mistress and had their child, even men today.
Also Angel told Tess that he would come back for her, which means that he just needs time to think. But this could make him bad too as he is leaving her unaware of where he is going and unaware of when he will come back, leaving her unable to know whether she should move anywhere in case he came back and never found her again. The Withered Arm Secondly I am going to speak about one of Hardy’s short stories ‘The Withered Arm’. This is a story of a single mother, Rhoda Brook, who works on the farm of her son’s father as a milkmaid.
Her sons’ father, Farmer Lodge, marries a woman much younger than Rhoda Brook which makes Rhoda very jealous. She has a very graphic nightmare one evening that Gertrude Lodge (Farmer Lodge’s wife) is attacking her. In the nightmare Rhoda grabs Gertrude’s arm. The next day Gertrude comes round to Rhoda Brook’s house to introduce her, Rhoda notices that Gertrude has a strange hand print on her arm. This startles Rhoda as she was once told she had wicken powers but had not believed it. But this certainly seemed to prove her strange powers.
In this story Farmer Lodge is portrayed to be a bad man as he bedded a woman, who then had his child, and then dismissed them. He then remarried a beautiful young woman but as the years of their marriage passed by he started to lose interest in her. The first accusation I have made is that he has had no contact with his son over the years before we meet the boy in the story. The boy obviously knows that Farmer Lodge is his father as that is what he calls him. So maybe there has been some communication between them, perhaps even some bonding. But from the story I can not tell this.
This would not make him a practically bad man. The way he ignores the boy when his new wife arrives suggests that he does not wish to communicate with the boy or Rhoda any longer, which makes him a bad man. The fact that he has not told his wife the fact that he has a child also makes him a bad man. The second accusation I have made about Farmer Lodge is that as his marriage lengthens his interest in his wife decreases. Now some may say this makes him a bad man. But I do not. Most men lose interest in their wife as the marriage goes on and so do most women.
The only reason Gertrude does not lose interest in her husband (she in fact gains interest) is because she is so obsessed with her withered arm that she focus’s the marriage failure onto that. She does not take into account that losing interest in each other is common in marriages, especially those of large age gaps. Another reason for Farmer Lodge to have lost interest in his wife is that she has bore him no child, and although I think this is not right of him to lose interest in her because of this, I can understand why.
If Farmer Lodge does not have any children then he will be the last in a long line of family that had occupied the valley for quite some time. But on the other hand the farmer already has a son of which he has dismissed. So really he does not need another. Within this story I think that there is one bad man in particular, Farmer Lodge. But I do not think he is the baddest of this story. I think the women are worse; Rhoda Brook has inflicted much pain on a young women, Gertrude Lodge. And Gertrude, being the worst of everyone in this story.
At first Gertrude is portrayed as an innocent young woman. During the story we see her develop into a hateful deceiving women. The Sons Veto The sons veto is a short story about a woman’s life and how it changes. Sophy is a not particularly well off and works in the local reverends house as a parlour maid. The reverend lives with his wife who dies before she has bore him a son. The reverend is very lonely and this is why he keeps his servants around, especially Sophy. He keeps her around because she is the only servant that actually talks and treats the reverend like a person, not her boss.
During her work at the house sophy is proposed to by Sam so she tells the reverend that she cannot work anymore at the house. This is where the reverend realises that he actually feels for Sophy differently than his other servants. But shortly after Sophy gets engaged, she and Sam have an argument which means that Sophy can still work at the house. The reverend then sees his chance to propose to Sophy, they marry and move to London as there is more work for her new husband there. She then has a child and this is who she is with at the beginning of the story.
Her son attends a private school and is very well-to-do. The reverend then dies which leaves the woman lonely. She does not sleep and tends to watch the market stall people in the early hours of the morning. One morning she recognises a face, it’s Sam. Every night she watches the market stallers and hopes that he notices her, one night he does. They continue having a relationship for several years and she promises him that she will come live with him in his shop back in the village in West Sussex but she says she will not do this without her son’s permission.
Every few months Sophy brings the matter up but her son just dismisses it, leaving her unable to act upon her promise. In the end Sophy dies. I would not say that Sophy is a good woman; I do not think anyone is. But she is certainly not bad. In her life she does not harm anyone in any way and she never thinks of just herself for example, when her and Sam are thinking of Marrying she thinks of her son’s happiness before she thinks of herself. The one true bad man in this story is Sophy’s son.
As he gets older he is more criticising of his mothers’ accent and the way she speaks. He seems to be more embarrassed with her than understanding that it is just the way she speaks. He thinks that the way she speaks may cause others to think lesser of him. When she brings up the matter of her marrying again, he dismissed the subject as if it had never been mentioned, knowing full well that his mother would not remarry without his consent. In my opinion her son is does not care for his mother welfare or happiness, he only cares for himself.
He does not allow her to marry into a lower class than the one he was born into because he feels that this would affect his social class as well. On the other hand he may not wish for his mother to remarry simply because he does not wish to see her with any other man than his father. It may be hard for him to let go of his father, as they were obviously much closer to each other than Sophy and her son. But b y not addressing the problem he has with his mother remarrying he is making his mothers life not worthwhile and making himself look like a bad man.
I do not think there are any other particularly bad men in this story. I think the Parson truly loved his wife and it is a shame he died. I also think that Sam Hobson was a good man too as he waited for Sophy until she died. All in all I think the theory good women: Bad men, is not particularly true to each of these stories. In ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ and ‘The Withered Arm’ the women are just as bad as the men, it may be because of their naivety but they are still not particularly good. The only story that can slightly be true of this accusation is ‘The Sons veto’, although not all the men are bad.