Discuss how at least three authors during the mid to late Nineteenth Century explore conflict within the family. What are the family conflicts caused by? What are the results of the conflict? Conflict is made up of opposing forces, it may be natural or man-made, intentional or unintentional. Complications usually arise when the writer introduces the main point in a story, these complications are usually the results of conflicts. After conflict arises, this is when the moment of crisis occurs or perhaps better known as the climax of the story. The three short stories; “To Please his Wife,” “The Parvenue,” and “The Half-brothers all deal with a similar theme of conflict and jealousy between the characters. The main differences are the storyline, settings and characters which distinguish the stories.
In these three stories, it seems as though money was the main root of these conflicts, as money brings power, status and wealth. In “To Please his Wife,” Hardy tells the story of two good friends who both meet a sailor, Shadrach who had returned from a long journey. Joanna is more confident and starts meeting Shadrach. However, it is soon clear that Shadrach and Emily are truly in love. Joanna is just about to tell Shadrach that he can be with Emily but she overhears their conversation about how he is going to break up with her. Joanna gets really jealous, “Green envy had overspread Joanna at the scene.”
She manipulates him into being with her although she does not love him. Emily accepts this as she is a very kind-hearted person. Joanna and Shadrach’s marriage is filled with conflict as Joanna wanted more money than Shadrach could possess. She is jealous of Emily as she is married to a rich merchant and her wealth is rising while Joanna’s family is poor and her business fails badly. She compares her sons to Emily’s and makes Shadrach feel guilty that Emily’s sons go to a private school whilst her boys can’t even go to school.
Finally she manages to persuade Shadrach to go to sea and make money in the way which is best for him as he certainly doesn’t make a good business man. He brings home money but it is still not good enough for Joanna so she asks him to go again. Shadrach agrees but he tells her that he will need his sons to help him. Joanna hesitates for a moment but at the end, her jealousy, greed and her ambition of appearing superior in society drives her to send them away. In the end they never returned and the reader can assume that they have died.
The narrator of “The Parvenue,” tells a story of her downfall. The opening paragraph begins with a warning to readers to never marry anyone out of their social class, “It is a lesson, to prevent any other from wishing to rise to rank superior to that in which they are born?” She lives with her poor family who are not very nice people in particular, except for her mum who is a really kind lady, “She was an angel on earth; all her works were charity, all her thoughts were love.”
Unlike Joanna in “To Please his Wife,” the narrator in this story marries for love but she marries a rich man, Lord Reginald. They move out together but the narrator could not handle having so much money and the fact that some people had a lot and some very little. She liked to spend time doing charitable work and to give money to the poor but her husband doesn’t understand why she does this and so this causes conflict between the two.
Similarly, just like with “Joanna and Shadrach,” these conflicts were caused by money problems between two couples who disagree with each other. These conflicts worsen as her family frequently goes to her for money and because they were poor they did not know how to handle the money, it was wasted. Lord Reginald eventually gets fed up and tells the narrator to choose either him or her family. She chose her family; however, they did not appreciate her and went their own ways. Her mother soon dies. At the end, she is alone and her husband marries someone from his own class. In Victorian times, this was a usual thing to happen for a woman because during that period, a separated wife would be left alone. Often, she is slandered, tormented and insulted. Women at the time did not have rights to divorce her husband, and however bad his behaviour is, her reputation would be ruined if she did so.