Nineteenth Century Short Stories Essay
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The highly censored and controlled Victorian society contained a large contrast, with a small proportion of the rich-elite, composed often of aristocrats and judges. The majority however, was extremely poor, often struggling to provide for their families let alone themselves. In the strictness of life at the time, many people delved into stories of the more humorous and less controlled sides of life. Authors did not put their characters into regular, day-to-day scenarios that would seem rather dull and boring, but created light, dramatically complex narratives that involved people in desperate situations, such as the man that must choose between three women hiding in his truck.
In the first story, ‘Tony Kytes, Arch Deceiver’ by Thomas Hardy, a young man is in a situation in which he must choose a woman to marry, being the only attractive young man in this village, he has a lot of control and authority over these women. Throughout the story, the women are portrayed as gullible and desperate, as we see in the climax of the story in which three different women are hiding in the same car.
In the end of the story, Tony loses control and seems to be less in command of the situation and becomes manipulated by the three women who are competing with each other in order to secure Tony as a husband. The women finally find out that they have all been promised to become Tony’s wife, and Unity and Hannah leave, pretending to be strong women who are unaffected by this heart-breaking situation. Tony is left with Milly, to which he proclaims ‘…It does seem as if fate had ordained it that it should be you and I, or nobody, and what must be must be…’ This line is very important as it links in with the theme of fate which applies to the other stories.
The next story is called ‘Old Mrs. Chundle’ by Thomas Hardy. It portrays and old woman who is very separated from the rest of her village. The author states that she has never even ventured past the next town from hers. One day, Mrs. Chundle is visited by the Curate who asks her for some food. Mrs. Chundle refuses to sit next to the curate, saying ‘Oh, faith, I don’t want to eat with my betters- not I’. The Curate persuades Mrs. Chundle to go to church; she tells him that she is nearly deaf and would not be able to hear anything. Throughout the rest of the story, we see the curate create various devices in an attempt to get Mrs. Chundle to go to church. However, Mrs. Chundle is forced to rely on the Curate until he eventually leads her to her death when she runs up the hill to get to church on time.
The final story, the Stolen Bacillus by H.G Wells, tells us the story of an anarchist who visits a bacteriologist. During the visit, the sheer potential of the destruction caused by the bacteria that he witnesses sparks his anarchy, impelling the young man to steal a batch of the perceptually dangerous bacteria, thinking that he could destroy an entire city with its unfathomable power. The scientist and his wife pursue the man through the streets of London in informal clothes, onlooker cheer thinking this is fast fuelled race, this also gives us the impression that this bacteria is very dangerous. The anarchist stops and the scientists think it’s too late. The final twist in the ending of the story is that the man drinks the virus thinking that he has now gained the ability to destroy the entire country through the power of cholera, but instead he drank a special bacterium that is used to turn monkeys blue.
In the same story, the Anarchist is portrayed as a confused but clever man that wants to cause as much devastation and destruction as possible to society. He quotes ‘….those mere atomies, might multiply and devastate a city! Wonderful!’ From this you can clearly see that this man’s objectives are to cause as much destruction as possible to the city. A ‘….slight gleam of satisfaction appeared on the pale man…’ after he at living cultures of this bacterium, with the author stating that ‘…morbid pleasure…’ appeared from the man as he was inspected by the scientist.
This makes the reader aware that this man has not come to learn about bacteria, but rather to find out how to use them to cause devastation. The way the bacteriologist is portrayed is also important, as he believes that it is a burden to keep that bacteria once muttering, ‘…..I am obliged to ….’ .The message verbalised by the author is that people should be judged by their appearance if you do not know them and that we should never underestimate the power of nature.
The main character in Old Mrs. Chundle is clearly old Mrs. Chundle. Mrs Chundle is an old, deaf woman, who is clearly quite happy living on her own, she has never ventured past the nearest town in her whole life. One day, she is visited by the curate who asks her for some food. It is then revealed to us that she is nearly deaf and has trouble hearing people. The curator asks her why she does not go to church and she explains her condition. Throughout the story, the Curate attempts to help her by thinking of various ways she would be able to hear the church services. In the end of the story, Mrs. Chundle is let down by the curate who promised to come over and read to her.
The main character in Thomas Hardy’s story is obviously Tony Kytes, he is described as ‘… ‘Twas a little, round, firm, tight face, with a seam here and there left by smallpox’ but this was not enough to ‘…hurt his looks in a woman’s eye….’ He was the ‘women’s favourite’ and loved all of them. He was highly involved with ‘all the rest of the scandalous stuff’ and told to us by the author. The message from the story is clearly ‘Looks can be deceiving’ and that you cannot change fate.
The relationships between the author and narrator’s attitudes towards women in ‘arch deceiver’ clearly shows us that at the time, mean were quite sexist towards women and believed that all of them were desperate and would do anything to get married, such as in this story where they fight over an clearly dishonest man.
The main relationship in Old Mrs. Chundle is the relationship between here and the curate. It is a very strange relationship due to the fact that as soon as the curate came into Mrs. Chundle’s life she dies. However we can see that the curate has helped Mrs. Chundle die happy as she managed to hear the word of God.
All of the stories I have mentioned contain unexpected endings which add humour or sadness into the stories. Thomas Hardy’s novels both contain very different endings. In ‘Arch Deceiver’, the ending was expected as we knew that nothing good would happen at the end of the situation that Tony was in. After a large argument between Tony and the three women at his house, the women leave and Milly is left to marry Tony. He tries to worm his way out of the situation that he has gotten himself in by saying that it was fate that they would get married. In his other story, Old Mrs. Chundle, the Curate breaks a promise he had made with the rector saying “She’s probably forgotten by this time that you promised.” The Curate eventually goes so Mrs. Chundle doesn’t get angry with him, and finds out that she has died.
In the story by H.G. Wells, the twist would have seemed humorous at the time but the overall effect of the story has decreased over time. The twist is that after the anarchist drank the bacteria, thinking that he would cause immeasurable devastation, he begins to turn blue. The twist is not very effective and is quite stupid, which is quite unexpected from an author as great as H.G Wells.
In conclusion, I believe that the narrative with the best use of drama through language was the stolen bacillus, this is because Wells can clearly describe to us what is happening, and it is told in a way which sounds realistic. The story with the best relationships is Old Mrs. Chundle as we are told the story of an old woman who died as soon as there were new influences in her life. The story with the best ending is the Stolen Baccilus as it was the most unexpected. Wells uses language in such a way that makes you believe that the anarchist would succeed, although the ending is stupid, it was the most surprising and contained a strange twist.