English Literature- GCSE Coursework Wide Reading- Comparing 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck and 'The Withered Arm' by Thomas hardy

Essay by HelsinkiHigh School, 11th grade March 2004

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I have recently read a 20th century text ('Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck) and also a 19th century text ('The Withered Arm' by Thomas hardy) in order to compare the similarities and differences in the two texts and the way in which the authors explore different themes.

In both 'The Withered Arm' and 'Of Mice and Men' the themes of loneliness and dreams can be found. I have chosen the theme loneliness to explore.

'The Withered Arm' by Thomas Hardy, is set in the year 1825 within a rural (dairy farming) community. Members of the community are superstitious and believe in conjurors, wizards and witches as many villages in Wessex did at that period in time. The tale covers several years, meaning the plot structure is linear.

This 19th century text is based on two main characters, Rhoda Brook and Gertrude Lodge. Tension and jealousy between these two characters is built up right from the beginning, as the readers are find out that Gertrude is the new wife of Farmer Lodge, the father of Rhoda's son.

Rhoda has a dream in which she inflicts harm to Gertrude's left arm. The dream seems to come true, as when the two women meet, Gertrude does have an affliction on her arm, which appeared the night of Rhoda's dream. In the end, Gertrude finds out about Rhoda's dream and Gertrude's superstitious behaviour leads to her own death.

Rhoda is described very early on in the tale. She is described as being "a thin fading woman of thirty" and when she is lighting her fire we are told:

"The radiance lit her pale cheek, and made her dark eyes, that had once been handsome, seem handsome anew."

Rhoda also seems to be obsessed and jealous of Farmer Lodge's new wife as...