A Comparison Between The Literary Styles Of

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A Comparison Between The Literary Styles Of Charles Dickens And Thomas Hardy Essay, Research Paper In order to compare the literary styles of Dickens and Hardy I will use ‘The Signalman´ by Charles Dickens and ‘The Withering Arm´ by Thomas Hardy. ‘The Signalman´ features a lonely train signalman who works in signal box by a railway cutting. He has been visited by a “spectre” which appears just before a fatal accident takes place. The other main character, who is also the narrator, meets the signalman and is told of his sightings. They try to interpret the warnings of the ghostly figure. As the two develop a friendship, the narrator returns to the railway cutting to visit the signalman but finds that he has been killed in an accident that the ghost had warned

about. ‘The Withered Arm´ features a milkmaid named Rhoda Brook whose ex-husband, Mr Lodge, remarries a young lady called Gertrude. Even before meeting Gertrude, Rhoda is jealous of her and begins to hate her. Without seeing Gertrude, Rhoda dreams that Gertrude is sitting on top of her, trying to suffocate her. Rhoda reaches out and grabs her arm, pushing her to the floor. Rhoda wakes up but believes that her encounter with Gertrude was too vivid and real to be a dream. She meets Gertrude for the first time and she looks exactly the same in person as she did in the dream. They become good friends and Gertrude shows Rhoda the mark on her arm, it clearly resembles the hold that Rhoda had on Gertrude´s arm and so Rhoda becomes worried that she was the cause of Gertrude´s

withered arm. Rhoda leaves the village as gossip about the reason for Gertrude´s skin complaint spreads. The condition on Gertrude´s arm worsens, applying more stress to Gertrude and Mr Lodge´s relationship and so Gertrude is desperate to find a cure to rekindle the love that Mr Lodge felt for her in the earlier stages of their marriage. Rhoda and Gertrude are reunited at the end. In a way, the two stories are similar as their themes are based on the same topics: mystery, supernatural and the unknown. They both involve premonitions of fate and the future. In ‘The Signalman´, the narrator attracts the attention of the signalman by shouting “Halloa! Below there!” These were the words recited by the ghost who warned him of an accident that would happen in the near future.

Also, these were the words shouted by the train driver as he alerted the signalman of the speeding train heading towards him. Also, In ‘The Withered Arm´, Rhoda dreamt that she had grabbed Gertrude´s arm. It was later discovered that Gertrude woke up with a painful arm on the exact same night and at the exact same time that Rhoda had the dream. Also, Rhoda knew exactly what Gertrude looked like before she had even seen her. In both of the stories some of the characters experience loneliness and isolation. Although both Dickens and Hardy express this through their characters, Dickens does so in a more intense manner, as more sympathy is felt for the signalman than for Rhoda or Gertrude. In ‘The Signalman´, the signalman inhabits a small, “solitary and dismal” signal

box. He stays in the “dripping-wet dungeon” for hours each day with nothing to do except to occasionally “change that signal, trim those lights, and turn his iron handle”. Dickens may have created this character to express his sympathy for those who are lonely. He may have wanted us to pity the signalman, as he is a “well educated” man constrained by a primitive occupation. This sympathy was heightened because of the death of the signalman. Possibly the fact that Dickens does not give the signalman a name shows that he is deemed unimportant to most people. Dickens may want us to counter this view and to think that all human beings are important. In ‘The Withered Arm´, Rhoda´s best friend is Gertrude and so she is terrified that Gertrude will discover that she was