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A GCSE English Literature Guide to Hardy’s Wessex Tales | Tony Kytes, The Arch Deceiver

| Sunday March 18, 2012

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Guide Navigation

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. It is told by a narrator as if they are recounting an incident from the past. It is told in an amusing way and there is no criticism of the characters or the events. Hardy uses the story to comment on the relationship between men and women. Hardy’s own relationships with women were complex; he married his first wife, Emma, in 1874 and their marriage was far from happy, she died in 1912 and Hardy was devastated by her death, writing many poems in her memory; he married his second wife, Florence, in 1914, she was his secretary and 39 years younger than him.

The title of the story is ironic as Tony Kytes fails to deceive anyone – he asks Hannah and Unity to marry him but they both turn him down which suggests that they have power over him – they can accept or reject his proposal while all he can do Is try to persuade them. The only character who might be said to be deceived is Milly who accepts Tony’s proposal even though she appears to be third choice.

The story takes place during a wagon ride and has a fast moving pace. Tony Kytes is described as a ladies man – engaged to Milly Richards, still has feelings for Unity Sallet, an old girlfriend and still has feelings for Hannah Jolliver, his first girlfriend. During the wagon journey Tony meets all three women and persuades two of them, Unity and Milly to hide from their rivals under tarpaulins in the wagon. When the wagon tips over and the girls discover each other, Tony attempts to choose between them by first proposing to Hannah, who rejects him on the advice of her father; he then proposes to Unity but she refuses to have Hannah’s left-overs. Finally he proposes to Milly who accepts and their wedding bans are...


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