The withered arm was written around 1891. The story is about a milkmaid called Rhoda Brook, who is obsessed with her ex lover’s new bride. She has a dream about his wife where Rhoda grabs Gertrude, Farmer Lodge’s wife, by her arm and hurls her to the floor and eventually causes Gertrude to have a withered arm. In the dictionary it states that suspense means “A state of anxiety or uncertainty. ” Tension means “A situation or condition of suspense or uneasiness. ”
Examples of where you might come across moments of tension is in a horror film, there are usually noises and effects which makes you think that something is going to happen which builds up suspense. An author or film director should keep their audience in suspense because it makes the story more exciting because if there is no suspense then it makes it boring, so the audience will not want to read on. It is important for an opening chapter to pose questions because it makes the story more attention-grabbing and it will make the reader want to read on.
The type of questions that Hardy pose’s about the characters and events in chapter one are questions such as, “Tis hard for she” and “He ha’n’t spoke to Rhoda Brook for years” it makes you wonder what had happened in the past to Rhoda Brook. The first significant moment of tension in the story is Rhoda’s dream. In the dream she sees Gertrude wearing a pale silk dress and a white bonnet. Rhoda sees Gertrude looking old and ugly “With features shockingly disorted, and wrinkled as by age.
” Gertrude mocked Rhoda. She was showing off her wedding ring, “Then the figure thrust forward its left hand mockingly, so as to make the wedding ring it wore glitter in Rhoda’s eyes. ” Rhoda then grasps Gertrude’s left arm and hurls her to the floor. Rhoda wakes up convinced that Gertrude had really been in the room, but there was nothing to be seen. I think Rhoda had this dream because she felt insecure about herself because she was old, and Gertrude was young and attractive.
When Rhoda met Gertrude for the first time and saw Gertrude’s injured arm she felt guilty and shocked “She had named the night and the hour of Rhoda’s spectral encounter, and brook felt like a guilty thing. The artless disclosure startled her. ” Hardy is trying to make the reader feel suspense at this point because you don’t know if it was Rhoda who injured Gertrude’s arm. Strangely, the two women become close friends, but Rhoda is shocked when Gertrude says that she wants to visit a man called Conjuror Trendle.
Rhoda is afraid that Conjuror Trendle might tell Gertrude that Rhoda had something to do with her injured arm, “She had been seized with sudden dread that this Conjuror Trendle might name her as the malignant influence. ” After they have visited the Conjuror, Gertrude hardly speaks to Rhoda because she couldn’t understand why Rhoda had taken her to see Conjuror Trendle if she knew that it was her who caused Gertrude’s arm to become shrivelled, “Was it you who first proposed coming here? ” Mrs. Lodge suddenly inquired after a long pause, “How very odd if you did.
” At this point Hardy is trying to make the reader feel suspense because you don’t know for sure if Gertrude did see Rhoda’s face in the water, which Conjuror Trendle showed to her. The next moment of tension comes later in the story, when six years have passed. Gertrude decides to visit Conjuror Trendle again to find out what she could do about her arm. She wanted to visit Conjuror Trendle because she felt that Farmer Lodge was losing interest in her, “Six years of marriage and only a few months of love.
” Conjuror Trendle tells her that the only cure for her withered arm is to rub her arm on the neck of a man who had just been hung, “You must touch with the limb, the neck of a man who’s been hanged, before he’s cold, just after he’s cut down. ” This might make the reader feel tense because the outcome of the story is unpredictable. The climax of the story. Gertrude goes alone to Casterbridge. For advice she goes to the hangman, Davies. Atmosphere is created as she approaches the house.
Hardy achieves this spooky atmosphere, by putting Gertrude in a very dangerous situation, because women never usually go out on there own at night, unless they’re prostitutes. Also she had to go and find the hangman and she doesn’t know what he is like. Hardy uses a quote of when Gertrude first sees Davies, “While she stood hesitating, the door opened and an old man came fourth, shading a candle with one hand”. Hardy uses a twist to end his story. When Gertrude arrives at Casterbridge, she finds Davies and explains what Conjuror Trendle has told her to do, he allows her to do it.
On the day of the hanging, Davies gives Gertrude her instructions. Her plan is now complete. She waits inside the jail to get her chance to touch the hanged mans corpse. After the young man is hung, his corpse is carried from the gallows to the inside of the prison in an open coffin. After rubbing her arm along the red rope burn around the hanged mans neck, her arm is cured. To her amazement, she hears Rhoda’s voice; standing next to her is Farmer Lodge. The hanged man is their son.
Gertrude falls unconscious because the shock was too much for her to handle and she never recovered. After Gertrude’s funeral Farmer Lodge sold his land and moved to a coastal town. He lived alone for two years but then died. Rhoda was not seen for some time but eventually she returned to Holmstoke and took up her old job at the dairy. In Farmer Lodge’s will he left all his money to Rhoda but she refused to accept it. The unexpected ending is an exciting way to end the story, because nobody would imagine it to end the way it did, it was unpredictable.