In this essay, the following question will be answered, “Explain how the themes of loss and isolation are explored in; The Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy, The Signalman and The Black Veil by Charles Dickens”. To an extent, the main loss for Rhoda in “the Withered Arm” is the fact that Gertrude is now with the father of Rhoda’s son, Farmer Lodge. It is almost as though Rhoda is jealous of Gertrude after Rhoda’s son comes back to tell his mother that Gertrude is a young, attractive woman. “Tell me what she’s like if you do see her”. The fact that she’s enquiring about her about her appearance may suggest that she’s jealous.
The reason as to why this was her main loss rather then losing her own son was due to the fact that although she loves her son, she loves the father of the son even more. After she has asked about her appearance, she immediately asks if his father had taken any notice of him “what did he say or do”. The son is quick to respond to respond “just the same as usual”. Had the farmer taken an interest into his son, there could have been a different outcome. However, the lack of parenting skills shown by the father consequently leads to his son’s execution.
“The Signalman” is very similar to “The Withered Arm” as both stories have a form of premonition which involves fate and their future. In “The Signalman”, the narrator draws the attention of the signalman by shouting “Halloa! Below there! ” These were the words recited by the ghost who warned him of an accident that would happen in the near future. In addition, these were the words recited by the train driver as he alerted the signalman of the speeding train heading towards him. In “The withered arm”, Rhoda has a dream that she grabbed Gertrude’s arm and injured it. Yet the same night, that’s when Gertrude received the damages to her arm.
In both “The Signalman” and “The Withered Arm”, some of the characters feel both lonely and isolated. Although both Dickens and Hardy express these emotions through their characters, Dickens portrays this emotion with more depth then Hardy. This is noticeable as the reader feels more sympathy for the Signalman then Rhoda or Gertrude. In “The Signalman”, we are informed that the Signalman has to work in a small, “solitary and dismal” signal box, where he stays in a “dripping wet dungeon” with nothing to do other than occasionally “change that signal, trim those lights, and turn his iron handle”.
In addition, Dickens also states that the Signalman is a well educated man who has been trapped by simple work for somebody of his intelligence. As the Signalman has no name, it implies that he is not important which makes the reader feel more sympathy for him. In “The Withered Arm”, Rhoda’s colleagues believe she is a witch as she is different. In the eighteenth to the nineteenth century, women were seen as the weaker more inferior sex. Women would be either good or bad. If you were regarded as different, then you would immediately be considered as a witch or sorcerer.
Most witches and sorcerers were usually outcast. Another character who is considered different is Conjuror Trendle. Although he is respected by Gertrude, this is because he can give her some vital information that may help her understand who has injured her. Other than Gertrude, he is not respected by anybody and has to live in the forests. A historical message shown in these short stories are that men were generally better then women in that time. This is shown in The Withered Arm by Rhoda’s job as a milk maid. Men would get the best and highest paid jobs leaving the worst and lowest paid jobs to the women.
In the story of “The Black Veil”, it is about this mysterious woman who confronts a young surgeon about a problem. The surgeon interrogates the woman yet she fails to give him any information. The surgeon then agrees to see the patient at her house only to find a dead corpse hanged for stealing. The surgeon is portrayed as a loving and compassionate guy. Before we even meet this mysterious woman, the surgeon is talking about his love towards this woman named Rose. As he describes Rose, “till the tones of her sweet merry voice sounded in his ears”, the reader feels sympathetic towards the Surgeon.
Before even reading this story, immediately, the title gives a connotation of death and mourning. The audience shows sympathy for this woman as she comes to see the surgeon on a cold winter’s day in dilemma over her son. As the woman is still wearing the black veil in the surgery, it portrays a mysterious woman. The colour black instantly portrays negative imagery. The fact that both the woman and the son have not been given names could suggest their not important or possibly they’re not alive as only living or once living beings generally have names. How Dickens describes the two setting within the story is extremely powerful.
The first setting, the surgeons house, outside the house, it is described as dark and stormy whereas inside there is a nice contrast as it is seen as a warm cosy house described as being “a cheerful fire”. Weather can suggest a plot within a story and as it is dark and gloomy, it is expected that something will occur. Whereas in Walworth, the imagery used to describe the slums is striking. He describes some of the surroundings as “pilfered from neighbouring hedges”. This quote emphasises how poor the houses were and how badly the neighbourhood was, in general.
As Dickens describes her as being “who had once been handsome” suggests that she had been once pretty until her sons behaviour distressed her, which could suggest that she is mentally un well. However, in “The Black Veil”, the main moral is if you are caring for others less fortunate than yourself you will be rewarded. This is shown towards the end where the doctor was rewarded for his service achieving fame and glory. In conclusion, all three stories face some form of loss or isolation. These new emotions all three stories discover then somehow affect the protagonist. In “The Black Veil”, the protagonist goes on to achieve fame.
In “The Signalman”, the protagonist goes on to find that the Signalman has died. In “The Withered Arm”, the protagonist kills her enemy and goes on to bury her son. The three endings shown in all three stories makes the reader then feel some sort of sympathy for the protagonist. ?? ?? ?? ?? Explain how the themes of loss and isolation are explored in “The Withered Arm”, “The Signalman”, “The Black Veil” Twahid Rahman Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Miscellaneous section.