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A GCSE English Literature Guide to Hardy’s Wessex Tales | The Son’s Veto

winwoodedu | Sunday March 18, 2012

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1. Introduction
2. The Withered Arm
3. The Son’s Veto
4. Tony Kytes, The Arch-Deceiver
5. Absent-mindedness in a Parish Choir
6. The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion
7. The Distracted Preacher

This short story was first published in 1891, the same year as Tess of the D’Urbervilles. It is divided into 3 sections, each dealing with a specific section of the story of Sophy’s life.

Section 1

We are introduced to Sophy Twycott sitting in her wheelchair in a London park. Randolph corrects her speech and she thinks about her life. We are told Sophy’s history – parlour maid to the local parson in North Wessex, proposed to by gardener Sam Hobson, she says no. She cares for Rev Twycott after the death of his wife, has an accident and is wheelchair bound. Rev Twycott proposes and she accepts. They move to London.

The section begins with a description of Sophy’s hairstyle. Her elaborate hair is as much an object of curiosity as her being in a wheelchair. The hairstyle is described as ‘ingenious art’, ‘the only accomplishment she could boast of’ and the fact that the hairstyle is put up each morning and taken down each evening is described as ‘a reckless waste of successful fabrication’. By showing the reader how Sophy puts her hair up and down each day Hardy tells us something about her life – she has little to do – ‘the only accomplishment she could boast of’ and ‘a reckless waste of successful fabrication’.

How does Hardy show the social status of Sophy and Randolph?

  • Physical clues – Randolph’s school uniform is of ‘a well-known public school’ – this type of school would cost money to attend.
  • Speech – Randolph corrects his mother’s Wessex dialect which shows that he is educated and therefore higher class – ‘Has, dear Mother – not have!’
  • How Sophy sees Rev Twycott – ‘she had a respect for him which almost amounted to veneration’ – Sophy looks up to Rev...

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