Compare Charlotte Perkins Gilman's, Turned With Thomas Hardy's, A Withered Arm

2182 words - 9 pages

Compare Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Turned with Thomas Hardy's A
Withered Arm

The short stories "Turned" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and "The
Withered Arm" by Thomas Hardy both have very different techniques and
plots with which they aim to appeal to their audience.

The opening of "The Withered Arm" immediately involves the reader.
Adjectives are used to describe the initial setting, and so the image
of the "eighty-cow dairy, and the troop of milkers, regular and
supernumerary" becomes clear. Hardy's emphasis on close description
helps develop the scene, such as the image of the "many-forked" pail
stand "resembling a colossal antlered horn". This simile creates a
vivid picture, and thus a rustic and country ambience is developed.

"Turned" uses an alternative technique. Rather than introducing the
scene and the cast of characters, as in "The Withered Arm", Gilman
launches into detailed insights into one of the main characters. This
allows the reader to be introduced to emotions rather than simply
focussing on surroundings. The first line creates the picture of a
"soft-carpeted, thick-curtained, richly-furnished chamber", but then
moves to how Mrs Marroner lies sobbing" bitterly, chokingly,
despairingly". This approach allows the reader to understand the
characters at an earlier stage.

The author of "Turned" addresses the setting in which her characters
reside by using a pattern of adjectives to contrast their situations.
The phrase "soft-carpeted, thick-curtained, richly furnished chamber
wide, soft bed" is paralleled with "un-carpeted, thin-curtained,
poorly furnished chamber narrow, hard bed", and this demonstrates
the contrasting situations of two of the characters. It also emotes
curiosity in the reader, because the author at this stage allows no
explanation for their differences.

Thomas Hardy adopts a similar style. He depicts firstly the
dairy-workers gossiping about the "new wife", using dialect
expressions such as "rosy-cheeked" and "tisty-tosty little body".
Later there is an introduction of the "thin fading" Rhoda Brooks, and
so the author also creates interest in the origin of their differing
lifestyles.

Both "Turned" and "The Withered Arm" juxtapose two lifestyles, one
that is superior to the other. Rhoda and her son are set in "The
Withered Arm" as lying "apart from the others", inhabiting a cottage
with "mud-walls" and a thatch that has a rafter showing "like a bone
protruding through the skin". When the reader hears of the "handsome
new gig" returning from town as though "after successful dealings",
with a "thriving farmer" and a woman with "soft and evanescent
features", the apparent poverty and isolation of Rhoda and her son is
in stark contrast. The implied wealth of Farmer Lodge and his new wife
is highlighted by the previous suggestion of Rhoda's lack of money.

Although within the same house, Gerta and Mrs Marroner clearly hold
different positions. As the author...

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