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English Literature Gcse Coursework Wide Reading Comparing 'of Mice And Men' By John Steinbeck And 'the Withered Arm' By Thomas Hardy

2486 words - 10 pages

I have recently read a 20th century text ('Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck) and also a 19th century text ('The Withered Arm' by Thomas hardy) in order to compare the similarities and differences in the two texts and the way in which the authors explore different themes.In both 'The Withered Arm' and 'Of Mice and Men' the themes of loneliness and dreams can be found. I have chosen the theme loneliness to explore.'The Withered Arm' by Thomas Hardy, is set in the year 1825 within a rural (dairy farming) community. Members of the community are superstitious and believe in conjurors, wizards and witches as many villages in Wessex did at that period in time. The tale covers several years, meaning the plot structure is linear.This 19th century text is based on two main characters, Rhoda Brook and Gertrude Lodge. Tension and jealousy between these two characters is built up right from the beginning, as the readers are find out that Gertrude is the new wife of Farmer Lodge, the father of Rhoda's son. Rhoda has a dream in which she inflicts harm to Gertrude's left arm. The dream seems to come true, as when the two women meet, Gertrude does have an affliction on her arm, which appeared the night of Rhoda's dream. In the end, Gertrude finds out about Rhoda's dream and Gertrude's superstitious behaviour leads to her own death.Rhoda is described very early on in the tale. She is described as being "a thin fading woman of thirty" and when she is lighting her fire we are told:"The radiance lit her pale cheek, and made her dark eyes, that had once been handsome, seem handsome anew."Rhoda also seems to be obsessed and jealous of Farmer Lodge's new wife as she often asks her young son to go and look at Gertrude and report back to her what she is like.Villagers seem to think that Rhoda is friends with or knows a lot about a conjuror, as they tell Gertrude to ask her about the conjuror, therefore they must be superstitious about Rhoda as well."It is by going to some clever man over by Egdon Heath. They did not know if he was still alive-and I cannot remember his name at this moment; but they said that you knew more than anybody else hereabout,"The above quotation is a section of speech between Rhoda and Gertrude, when Gertrude unknowingly informs Rhoda that "there must exist a sarcastic feeling among the work-folk that a sorceress would know the whereabouts of the exorcist. They suspected her, then."The descriptions of Rhoda's appearance are completely different to the way in which Gertrude is described and visualised.Gertrude is called a "rosy-cheeked, tisty-tosty little body" who is years younger than her husband, Farmer lodge, by the gossiping milkmaids who have not yet seen her.In the eyes of the narrator, Gertrude's face is "soft and evanescent, like the light under a heap of rose-petals."More minor- but still crucial characters in 'The Withered Arm' are:Rhoda's son, who is never named. He is quite obedient and faithful to his mother as he does everything she...

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