Comparing The Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy and Turned by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
This essay is aimed at discussing the differences between two short
stories, called ‘The Withered Arm’ by Thomas Hardy and ‘Turned’ by
Charlotte Perkins Gilman. These stories have similar plots and both
deliver and contrast these in their very own clever ways. They are
both based on the idea of triangular relationships, involving two
women and a man. In the story ‘Turned’ there is a couple named Mr. and
Mrs. Marroner, and their employee who is a young and beautiful Swedish
maid who goes by the name of Gerta. In ‘The Withered Arm’ the
relationship is between a lady called Rhoda Brook and a farmer called
Farmer Lodge and his wife who is called Gertrude.
This essay will discuss the similarities and differences between the
two stories and their characters, I will also discuss the language
used, and the way the same image is effectively conveyed in the two
The author of ‘Turned’ is Charlotte Perkins Gilman who was from a poor
background and was born in Connecticut, USA, in 1860. The first story
she wrote was called ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ which she wrote in 1892.
She then went on to write her best-known book, which was called ‘Women
and Economics.’ Gilman was a feminist writer who believed that women
had the right to their own independence. This is demonstrated in the
character of Marion in ‘Turned’, as she is a clever woman with a
degree and has a title of doctor. Gilman published ‘Turned’ in 1911 at
the time where issues surrounding women rights was becoming more
serious and common.
On the other hand, Thomas Hardy wrote his novel ‘The Withered Arm’
with men in the powerful positions. For instance Farmer Lodge in ‘The
Withered Arm’ is portrayed as the powerful character, in charge with
the women wanting to start a relationship and in order to be with him.
This puts Farmer Lodge in a position of power but in ‘Turned’ the man
is the one who is abandoned and left and has to resort to begging for
Although Hardy wrote ‘The Withered Arm’ in 1888, he chose to set the
story more than 60 years previous to this. He had a privileged
background being born into a rich family in Wessex, which is why he
loves the area so much and why he based many of his stories there.
Indeed, many of his characters are taken from people he knew in his
life. In fact Rhoda Brook in this story was based on one of his many
The basic plot/storyline to ‘Turned’ is that a married couple, (Mr.
and Mrs. Marroner) decide to take on a young Swedish homehelp called
Gerta. The couple become very attached to Gerta and she becomes a dear
and trusted friend. However she and Mr. Marroner have an affair behind
Mrs. Marroner’s back and Gerta becomes pregnant. While Mr. Marroner is
away on ‘business’ he sends a letter to Gerta and to his wife but he
accidentally gets the envelopes mixed up and Mrs. Marroner finds out