Which character in “The Withered Arm” suffers most?
“The Withered Arm” is a short story by Thomas Hardy. It was written in 1890 and set in 1825. The story talks of the historical background of the period and as a modern day reader, we can see the changes that have occurred. For instance, taking the example of divorce at that time was a very unusual step to take and it would affect your career and family. It would give you a very shameful name and would be a scandal. The story explores many dramatic issues such as witchcraft, unfaithfulness, tragedy and revenge. The tale mainly focuses on the relationships between Rhoda Brook and Gertrude Lodge. Although, there are many characters who suffer in the tale, such as Farmer Lodge and Rhoda’s son, there is more significant suffering than theirs present. Farmer Lodge’s and Rhoda’s son’s suffering is not as severe as Rhoda and Gertrude’s.
Gertrude is first introduced in the tale, when she arrived as Farmer Lodge’s new bride in Holmstoke. Gertrude is described as a lady complete, pretty and has a fair skin, as well as wearing wealthy feminine clothes. Gertrude’s main feature which is attractive is her beauty. In a flash of time, Gertrude begins to suffer pain because of her injured arm. She says “the place on my arm seems worse, and troubles me. It pains me dreadfully sometimes”. This suggests that her limb troubles her to a huge extent. Gertrude Lodge discloses to Rhoda, that she does not know how her limb was injured. Due to her injury, readers are aware that Gertrude suffers a great amount of pain from her withered arm.
Another reason that Gertrude suffers in the tale is because she couldn’t produce a child for her husband. Her arm caused martial problems between her and her husband, Farmer Lodge. As it declares in the story “gloomy and silent, she had bought him no child”. One reason could be because of her withered arm as it got slowly dried and shrivelled away; this made Gertrude very unattractive and...