The two main characters, Rhoda Brook and Gertrude Lodge, which the story ‘The Withered Arm’ is based on, are very different. Rhoda Brook is a single mother and is feeling alone and unloved. She is always suspicious of what is happening. She feels guilty if she does something wrong and cannot say no if some body asks her to help them. An example of this is when Rhoda thinks she is to blame for the markings on Gertrude’s arm, she also doesn’t really want to go see Conjuror Trendle with Gertrude about her arm, but she cannot say no. She isn’t really good looking and she is thirty-five years of age and has been divorced once from Farmer Lodge.
She is poor and always has and her job as a milkmaid doesn’t pay much, especially when she has to try to support herself and her son. Where as Gertrude Lodge has just been married to farmer Lodge, she doesn’t work, but isn’t poor as she relies on her husband. She is very pretty and is young. She doesn’t feel lonely, but feels deeply in love. Both Rhoda Brook and Gertrude Lodge are connected in the fact that they have both at one time in their life felt deeply in love with Farmer Lodge and have both married him when they were young and pretty.
Hardy’s story is about two women, Rhoda Brook and Gertrude Lodge, who don’t even know each other. Rhoda hears about Gertrude and becomes jealous because she has married ex-husband. Rhoda has a dream about Gertrude and she ends up throwing her across the room. The next day Rhoda sees marks on Gertrude’s arm and wonders if it was her fault. As you can see Hardy’s stories are all about families, the conflict, the break up, and even divorces and remarried ones. It is every day life problems, just with a little more imagination.
Question and Answers Rhoda’s background with Farmer Lodge is that she used to be married to him and also had a son with him. She also married him when she was young and pretty. But Rhoda has always been poor. Rhoda worked on Farmer Lodge’s farm, but as a milk lady, she was very unhappy and has been for most of her life, as mentioned in chapter one. She is a ‘Lorn milkmaid’, meaning a very unhappy milkmaid. They broke up and got divorced because Farmer Lodge Thought that Rhoda was in a too much lower class than him.
Probably more the reason was that she wasn’t young any more and her good looks were fading. This left Rhoda sad and lonely, not earning a lot, and has to try to support herself and her son. Gertrude’s background with Farmer Lodge is that she has just recently married him. She has married Farmer Lodge when she is young and pretty she feels deeply loved and not alone. She doesn’t work but relies on her husband. Even though she relies on her husband, she has always been wealthy. She is friendly and quite quiet, is always wants to know what is happening.
Rhoda’s dream is about Rhoda asleep then Gertrude coming into her bedroom and showing Rhoda her, the wedding ring. Gertrude teases Rhoda with the ring and keeps on showing it to her. Gertrude then with her left arm strangled Rhoda. In desperate struggle Rhoda swung Gertrude over the bed and onto the floor leaving scratch marks on her. Rhoda then woke up disturbed and scared. When Gertrude visit’s Rhoda she doesn’t wear silk like in Rhoda’s dream. She wore normal light coloured clothes with a basket on her right arm. Rhoda thought she was going to be evil and mean.
But then Gertrude pulled out a pair of boots and gave them to Rhoda’s son and said “Here you go just like I promised”, then Rhoda all of a sudden changed her mined and started to find out that Gertrude was kind and gentle. Gertrude does have marks on her left arm and it starts to get infected. It soon becomes all wrinkly and withered. Gertrude is very upset about this and starts to feel Farmer Lodge is falling out of love with her because of her arm. Gertrude hears that Rhoda might know someone called Conjuror Trendle. She then goes with Rhoda to see him.
But Rhoda is confused about the fact that people in the town where saying that she knew about Conjuror Trendle. Rhoda was starting to think that she might be a witch. Gertrude goes to see him and he tells her that he cannot do anything but he can show her who did it. *SIX YEARS LATER* Gertrude is still looking for a cure for her withered arm. So she decides to go to Conjuror Trendle to see if he has find out any thing new. Unlike last time he has a cure but it is disgusting and horrid. What she has to do is to put her arm against a newly hanged person’s neck.
Rhoda on the other hand has received news that her son will be hung for arson. Rhoda writes to Farmer Lodge to tell him about the news. She arranges to meet Lodge at the jail where they will see their son get hung. Gertrude also heard of a mans death of which he was going to be hung. So she decides to turn up. She puts her arm on the mans neck then from behind she hears somebody shout “What are you doing here? ” Gertrude turns around and sees Rhoda and Farmer Lodge crying. Rhoda then tells her that it is their son.
Gertrude then faints and dies, probably from shock, but her arm did heal. Conclusion The two characters are very different in the fact that they have different reactions to certain things and the way they need to know what is happening. Rhoda is definitely the bravest, but Gertrude is the most independent. Gertrude has got the worst fate even though Rhoda has lost her son. I think Gertrude is an innocent victim and I don’t think Rhoda was evil. I probably prefer Rhoda the best because she is very brave and very helpful, she also is quite independent, and works very hard.