Both John Thomas and Tony Kytes are daring characters who try to manipulate women around them. Compare and contrast the two men with particular reference to their attitude towards women. Tony Kytes is the main character of ‘Tony Kytes, The Arch-Deceiver’, which is a story written by Thomas Hardy in the 1890s – contained in his book titled ‘Life’s Little Ironies.’ (1894) (The story is set in the Midlands during the First World War.) Thomas Hardy was an influence to 20th Century writers, and as recognition of his work his ashes were buried in Poet’s corner in Westminster Abbey, and his heart buried in his wife’s grave – Emma.
DH Lawrence was obsessed with honesty, particularly with regard to sexual matters. By writing about sex he was breaking social taboos as well as the then laws on decency. ‘Ticket, Please’ isn’t as indecent as some of his creations. From this story is the infamous John Thomas, who was created by Lawrence some thirty years after Tony Kytes was discovered. This time difference between the two characters may account for some of their contrasts and indeed the difference between the women of the stories, as the ‘Victorian’ women were certainly less peremptory than the women of the wartime were.
The women of the Victorian era had more respect for the men as a result of their upbringing. From a very young age they were taught that they were inferior to the men, and it was made abundantly clear to them, as male siblings/relative became the parents’ favourite. The wartime women also respected the men, but in a different way. They thought them brave as they risked their lives for their country. As the men were otherwise engaged, the women were called upon to replace them in the jobs that they had left vacant. In doing so, they gained a sense of freedom/independence and power.
Your first introduction to the characters is very important, therefore, the introduction to the story is important, as it subtly introduces the characters as well. This style can be found in ‘Tickets, Please,’ where DH Lawrence uses a tram’s journey to subconsciously describe the characters. Using amorphous sentence structure/syntax, with a lack of punctuation DH Lawrence sets the speed/flow of the sentence to fit the tram’s journey and the characters lives. ‘Tickets, Please,’ is a much more powerful story compared to Tony Kytes, and the basis for this power is the words that DH Lawrence uses, especially in the first few sentences. Using the shapeless sentences, he creates a dangerous, yet exciting escapade through, over and under towns, and the bleak countryside:
“…the reckless swoops downhill, bouncing the loops: again the chilly wait in the hill-top market-place: again the breathless slithering round the precipitous drop…” …this could be a hint of what is to come as the story progresses. DH Lawrence is very clever in the way that he writes, and uses this technique: it brings the story to life, in a rather uncontrolled way. ‘Tickets, Please’ is written in the third person which makes it an unbiased account but, unfortunately, means that you don’t get all sides of the story, (as you would do, for instance, in a play). The story doesn’t contain any of the characters feelings or thought as a result of this, but DH Lawrence does try to include the characters feelings from his point of view.
This is almost the same in the story of the ‘eponymous hero’ Tony Kytes. Here a carrier is reminiscing about the days when he new Tony, and decides to tell his passengers of his account of the story. As he is the narrator it will be a biased account – he may over/under-exaggerate to make the story seem more believable/dramatic. Both John Thomas and Tony Kytes are sycophantic, philanderers, but John Thomas is much more powerful, and this is reflected in the presentation of the story ‘Tickets, Please,’ as the words chosen be DH Lawrence are more powerful than the ones chosen by Thomas hardy. This may be done to re-establish the fact that it was written in wartime.
Women find Tony very attractive, despite his scars from smallpox – which he had as a boy. He was a very serious youngster, though you wouldn’t know it by reading the story. Tony, as a man, is very scandalous and facetious, in the way that there is more humour rather than deceit when he shifts between women. He is an unfaithful, indecisive man whose “shaven-face2 and charms will get him anywhere.
John Thomas Raynor is an inspector on the trams during wartime along with the “comely” women conductors and the “delicate young men” who could not go to war. (There is no mention of why John Thomas didn’t go war, and his description mentions no physical flaws.) He is an egotistical, uncaring tram inspector, who is very much a coward under the tough exterior. He seems to find the carefree life that the women lead, extremely attractive, and almost always has a woman to go home with – Annie once being one of them. Like Tony he is very flirtatious and facetious, and receives many flirtatious signals back: “Shut the door, boy,” said Muriel Baggaley. “Oh, which side of me?” said John Thomas.
“Which tha likes, ” said Polly Birkin. Although, neither man is ever ‘in love’ with any of the women. Tony Kytes “loved ’em in shoals,” which meant that there wasn’t any true love on his part. He knew that he was “quite the women’s’ favourite” and used this to his advantage. Tony was very easily lead, and his feelings for the women tend to change faster than the wind! Likewise John Thomas doesn’t like meaningful relationships with women, and likes to remain a “nocturnal presence.”