Thomas Hardy's Treatment of Women in His Short Stories Essay

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Thomas Hardy's Treatment of Women in His Short Stories

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in Dorchester and he became a famous writer after his mother was keen to let him have a better education than her. Most of his stories are set in Wessex. Wessex was a remote region of England. Almost everyone belonged to the 'labouring classes. Throughout most stories Hardy writes about the treatment of women. He talks about his opinions. In this essay I shall look at how women are treated and portrayed in various extracts from his short stories.

In Hardy's stories women are presented as characters that we like and deeply sympathise with. One of these women is old Mrs Chundle. She is a modest elderly woman who
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'The farmer was usually gloomy and silent; the woman who he a wooed was contorted and disfigured, moreover she had brought him no child.' Chapter six.

Although men's power and authority is displayed, women are also presented as manipulative too. In 'Tony Kytes the Arch Deceiver' both Unity Sallet and Hannah Jolliver act in this fashion towards Tony. They, knowing about his engagement to another woman, try to manipulate the situation by teasing him into regretting he had chosen the other women over themselves. Unity says

'And- can you say I'm not pretty Tony? Now look at me!'

and shortly after Hannah too says

'You've settled it with Milly,I suppose?- because although I've held off so independent, I'll own at last that I do like 'ee and I wouldn't say no if you asked me-'

Thomas Hardy shows us how obsessed and preoccupied women are with their own appearance. This is shown when a mystery narrator talks about a maid called Sophy in 'The Son's Veto'. The narrator comments on how her hair 'twists and coils like rushes of a basket' and how it is 'surmounted by a tuft of black feathers'. However, this narrator then goes on to question the women's vanity when 'it should be all demolished regularly at bedtime'.

In the 'Arch deceiver' Hardy shows how obsessed women are. Unity Sallet, a handsome girl who is fond of Tony, questions him about her beauty. She says


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