The Role Of Women In Thomas Hardy's Wessex Tales

1546 words - 6 pages

The Role Of Women in Thomas Hardy's Wessex Tales

In this piece I will be showing the role of women in the 18th century
around the time the 'Wessex Tales' has been set. I will be showing the
ways Thomas Hardy expresses his opinion in the way that some of the
women act and showing the harsh reality that women had to face in the
18th century.

'The daughter's seclusion was great, but beyond the seclusion of the
girl lay the seclusion of the father. If her social condition was
twilight, his was darkness. Yet he enjoyed his darkness, while her
twilight oppressed her.' This quote comes from 'The Melancholy Hussar
Of The German Legions. The quote shows us that Phyllis has to live in
seclusion with her father whether or not she likes it.

In the Melancholy Hussar Phyllis is the daughter of a Doctor Grove who
gave up his career to live in the countryside and contemplate how the
world works. However Phyllis his daughter has to stay in the seclusion
also she cannot go any where without her father knowing. In 'The
Melancholy Hussar' there is a lot of talk about social hierarchy this
is because in the time of when this book has been set it was a 'good
move' for a women in Phyllis's position to marry a gentleman like
Humphrey Gould.

Although Humphrey Gould was ridiculously poor if Phyllis married him
she would become a 'lady'. In the Melancholy Hussar it also shows you
the patience of the women this is because when Humphrey goes away
Phyllis waits a very long time until she gets a letter from Humphrey,
which she believes to be Humphrey calling off the wedding. However at
this time her father sees that Phyllis is ready to make a new life
with a soldier from the York Hussar's and so he tells her that he has
received a letter from Humphrey saying that the wedding is still on
and that he will be there.

However Phyllis still wants to run away with Mathias, a soldier from
the York Hussar's. At this point Dr Grove puts another obstacle in
Phyllis's way by saying that she is going to stay with her aunt who is
supposed to be even worse than her father. This shows that Phyllis has
no rights for as long as she lives with her father she cannot do as
she pleases.

However on the night of Phyllis's and Mathias's Departure Phyllis sees
Humphrey Gould in a coach driving towards her house. Phyllis thinks
that Humphrey has come back to marry her however she still wants to go
with Mathias. 'Her promise must be kept, and esteem must take the
place of love. She would preserve her self-respect. She would stay at
home, and marry him, and suffer.' This quotation shows that although
Humphrey Gould has left her for so long she will marry to keep her
self respect by keeping her promise to Humphrey and not disrespect
herself or her family.

This sort of Social Hierarchy is also shown in 'The Son's Veto'....

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