Thomas Hardy Is Very Successful And Skilful

In Controlling The Reader?s Response To ?The Withered Ar Essay, Research Paper

In the

very first section of the story, we can see how Hardy focuses our attention in

order to control our response. We can

see that Rhoda Brook is a lonely figure set aside, but Hardy?s skill makes us

want to know more about her and why she is lonely when the other milkers refer

to her. The

first section is intriguing. We constantly want to find out more about the

mysterious character of Rhoda Brook, who we notice is sitting apart from the

other workers. By the

end of the section, we assume that Rhoda Brook is a rejected girlfriend of

farmer Lodge. We deduce this from the clues in the language used by Hardy. In the

second section, Hardy moves the story forward and introduces the theme of Rhoda

Brook?s jealousy, and more importantly, we now see the story from Rhoda Brook?s

perspective. When

Rhoda sends her son to spy on farmer Lodge?s new wife, we begin to see how

jealous and rejected Rhoda feels. We also

begin top understand Rhoda much better, and sympathise with her feelings. Clues

about Rhoda Brook?s relationship with farmer Lodge are suggested in an oblique

way, so we only have partial knowledge. The way

Hardy withholds information is part of his skill, and makes us wonder and want

to know more about their relationship. In

section3, Hardy introduces a very powerful supernatural element which creates a

very uncanny atmosphere. We see

Rhoda Brook focusing her mind intently on the image of Gertrude Lodge, over

turf ashes. This setting is good for creating the mystic atmosphere, which

draws the reader into the mystery, especially during the scene where the

incubus visits Rhoda Brook. This is rather exciting and creates fear inside the

reader, which is enjoyable. Again, this is part of Hardy?s skilful use of

language throughout the story. We feel

the mystery and excitement when Gertrude Lodge visits Brook?s cottage the next

morning. We find Rhoda afraid and wanting to hide. She expects to see the same

features on Gertrude as the ones she had formed on her mind, and is quite

surprised when she meets her. We see that Rhoda begins to like Gertrude, but

also suffers a conflict on emotions. Rhoda

feels guilty and confused, and we identify deeply with her. We share in her

puzzlement at the coincidence of her dream and Gertrude’s afflicted limb. Section4

deals with the suggestion to visit Conjuror Trendle. Here, the theme of the

conflict of emotions is carried on and again, we perceive the story from Rhoda

Brook?s perspective. We see

that Rhoda almost dreads meeting Gertrude again. She feels convicted of a

crime, and terrible guilt for withholding the dream from Gertrude. Rhoda Brook

feels her friendship would be put in danger if Gertrude found out.At the

same time, we see how Rhoda Brook feels affection fore Gertrude, and that she

has a frightening fascination with Gertrude?s affliction; which mystified her

so. When

Gertrude suggests the visit to Trendle, we see how Rhoda Brook reluctantly

agrees to go, and how she dreads Trendle informing young Gertrude about the

cause of her withering arm. We are able to share in Rhoda Brook?s feelings

because of the skill Hardy employs in his use of language. Later

on in section 5, we continue to share in Rhoda Brook?s increasing feelings of

guilt, anxiety and fear of discovery as she makes her way through the dark and

dreary heath with Gertrude. By the

end of the section, we do not know whether Gertrude knows the truth or not.

This is because of Hardy?s narrative technique which forces the reader into

Rhoda Brook?s shoes and limits the reader to the information that Rhoda Brook

has. This is

very skilful and it is why Hardy is so successful in controlling our response

to the story. In

section 6 we experience how Hardy abruptly shifts the narrative perspective

away form Rhoda Brook to Gertrude, and bluntly tells us that Rhoda and her

unnamed son have left the area. We are

now obliged to share in Gertrude?s feelings of rejection and lack of love form

her husband because of her deformity. As

Hardy continues the narrative from Gertrude’s perspective, we see how she is

determined not to give up her fight to win back her husband?s love, so that

they may be happy again. In

order to do this, we accompany Gertrude on her lonely journey to meet Trendle

for the final time. We see she is frightened as she travels alone to face the

prospect of placing her arm upon a dead man?s neck. We are drawn into the story

and sympathise with her. When

she visits the hangman in his lonely cottage, and Hardy makes us identify with

poor Gertrude and feel pity for her. At he

jail, we reach the climax of the story. There is a sudden twist in the story

and we find ourselves stunned by Rhoda Brook?s and farmer Lodge?s presence and

by the sudden realisation that the hanged man is in fact? Rhoda Brook?s unnamed son from the start of

the story. Hardy

and achieves this surprise skilfully by having changed the perspective of the

narrative in the middle of the story, so that we had almost forgot about Rhoda

Brook and her son, because we were busy identifying with Gertrude and her

lonely plight. The surprise is totally unpredictable and unanticipated. I found

this story to be very enjoyable. I was attracted by the mysterious and

atmosphere and the gripping storyline. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending, which

left me absolutely flabbergasted. I think

that Hardy was very talented and I admire his skilful use of language and the

use of his techniques used to focus my attention and shift the perspective

almost unnoticeably.


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