rThomas Hardy concentrated on human relationships in his short stories, as this was his main area of interest. Hardy also had a keen interest on the supernatural such as aliens. In 1874, Thomas Hardy got married to the love of his life, Emma Gifford, but after 38 years of marriage in 1912, Emma passed away sending Hardy into deep depression. This is when Hardys short stories hit its prime.
He went on a pilgrimage in 1914 to find out about life after Emma. Although, in the same year, he re-married to Florence Dugdale at the age of 74 and in 1928, he passed away. All his poems are firmly grounded in Dorset life and folklore, particularly the short stories The Withered Arm and Tony Kytes: ArchThe first relationship that we find out about in the Withered Arm is Getrude and Farmer Lodge, we find out that they are married:Her face too was fresh in colour, but it was of a totally different quality- soft and evanescent, like the light under a heap of rose petals. This is the comparison between Gertrude and Farmer Lodge.
Hardy describes Gertrude as the light under a heap of rose petals suggesting she is way beyond beauty. The simile is effective, as this sets a picture in your head of what she would look like. This may also suggest that the marriage is purely superficial and Lodge has only married Gertrude purely as she is pretty:The well-to-do Farmer Lodge came nearly last; and his young wife, who accompanied him, walked up the aisleappeared thus for the first time. This says that Lodge his parading his new possession to the public, and doesnt care about Gertrudes feelings, just the fact that he is with a beautiful woman. Later in the story, Lodge rejects Gertrude because of her disfigurement. This shows that Lodge is a very shallow individual and is defying the laws of marriage, for example in sickness and health.
Other people interpretations of Gertrude would be very positive as all eyes are upon her when she is paraded at church, but Rhoda, one of the milkmaids and Lodges ex-girlfriend isnt best pleased about Lodges new wife and how she looks:I wouldnt look up at her if she were to pass my window this instant. This shows a very bad approach towards Gertrude and she feels threatened by her at the same time. Later in the story, Rhoda has a dream and her whole interpretation of Gertrude is changed, in fact, they become good friends:I hope you will find this air agree with you, maam and not suffer from the damp of the water meadsThis tells us she has a enough courtesy to call her maam. Her whole interpretation changed as she had a dream about Gertrude getting her arm cut off, and the next morning, Gertrudes arm hurt, so i guess she felt kind of responsible for what happened to her.
Their relationship is very different from their relationships with Farmer Lodge as they are both in the same boat and they bond very well. Also, Farmer lodge used them both for their looks, and not for who they are so again, they have another thing in common. Tony Kytes: The arch deceiver is very different to the withered arm, as the man in this isnt using the women for his image, hes just a womaniser. Tony is described as not a very good looking man, but still get the girls:Twas a little, round, firm, tight face, with a seam here and there left by the smallpoxHardy describes his face like a little mongrels face; being left with small pox i would say is an insult. The affiliation between Tony Kytes and the three women he is playing with is very obscure because it would never happen. This makes the story slightly humorous too.
The naivety of all three women is astounding, to say the least, as they believe Tony every time a word comes out of his mouth, they obey and listen:Now, Milly, would you do me a favour- my coming wife, may I say. . . I dont mind, to oblige you, TonyThis is where Tony asks Milly to go in the back of the wagon, and she pretty much gives herself to way to him. I think this is awfully stupid but at the same time humorous.
Tonys lack of fidelity is rife in this story as he cannot make up his mind who he wants to go with, this is a lot like Farmer Lodge and his lack of commitment to his ex Rhoda and ultimately, his son. Tony, like Farmer Lodge is very shallow as he would dump his wife-to-be Milly for either Unity or Hannah, and this is because he cant make his mind up:Im afeard. . .
Now which would you marry, father, if you was in my place?This shows that Tony is not just womaniser, but he has a heart too and he is afraid of the consequences, and fears he may end up with nothing. Jealousy is rife in this story, as all three women would go with Tony, even after what happened:And away walks Unity Sallet likewise, though she looked back when shed gone some way, to see if he was following her. Even after Unity rejected Tony, she still feels a sense of defeat and looks back to see if he was following her, knowing full well he went with Hannah. When Hardy puts Unitys whole name in the quotation given above, you know it will be her first, or final act in the story, and I think this is a good technique used in all stories.When all three women are in the cart together, the jealousy is so rife, they start to fight and sob to gain Tonys affections:Now at these strange voices sounding from under the cloth Hannah was thunderstruck amost into a swoundThey are all fighting over the right to gain his affections, they dont care about there own safety, also another humorous part.