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English Literature

Themes

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There can be no definitive list of themes for any story, but these are key subjects that Hardy explores in The Withered Arm.

Rural poverty

Rhoda Brook's life is shaped by her lack of money and this has resulted in the main event that affects her entire life: she was "bewitched" and seduced by a wealthy man, perhaps in the hope of marriage as an escape from poverty. Her poverty and her sex (as a woman) means she will have received little worthwhile formal academic education so she would have learned only what was passed down to her: how to survive in a rural economy as a poor person and how to survive as a woman in a patriarchal [patriarchal: A system where men are in charge, and property passes down the male line. society.

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