The Withered arm occurs during the Georgian era

The Withered arm occurs during the Georgian era, set in Wessex around the 1820’s. However, it was written in the Victorian era in 1888. In this era there was a wide divide between the rich and poor. The poor were looked down upon and treated with little respect. This created a tension between Rhoda and Gertrude because of their different status. Furthermore, the Victorian era was very much a male dominated one, where women were seen as the objects of their husbands. The vast divide between the social standings caused the rich to suspicious and mistrustful of the poor. On the other hand, Macbeth was written the Jacobean era in 1606. During this era, people were full of distrust and suspicious of others. This being due to the union of the crowns. As a result of their era both Macbeth and the Withered Arm are written, the friendship between the characters in each, progress and change in different ways. The friendship of Rhoda and Gertrude has a cynical structure in which the friendship is non-existent between both women at the start and end of the short story. This due to Rhoda’s jealousy of Gertrude. In comparison, Macbeth and Banquo have a strong and loyal friendship that slowly deteriorates.
In the Withered Arm Rhoda has a low position in the society: “A Lorn Milkmaid” The idea presents that there are many milkmaids, but Rhoda is isolated. The use “lorn” portrays that Rhoda is of low standing and a social outcast. Whereas Gertrude is of high standing: “A white bonnet and a silver-coloured gownd.” The Clothes that Gertrude wears indicates that she is of noble birth and has a high standing in society. Hardy’s use of characters of different status means that the friendship that formed was unlikely and therefore, their position in society plays a role in the eventual deterioration. Social status was important in the Victorian era as people with lower standing generally were poor and part of the working class. Furthermore, the rich looked down on the working class as they had money that the poor didn’t have. This made the rich suspicious of the poor. Moreover, the appearances of the women also show their social status. Rhoda’s appearance presents her as working class: “thin worn milkmaid” Hardy’s presentation of Rhoda conveys that she has worked had her whole life as seen in the adjective “worn”. Gertrude, in comparison, has “lightish” hair and a “face as comely as a live doll’s.” Through this Hardy shows the reader that Gertrude has not worked in her life and is therefore of high standing. His mans that Gertrude doesn’t understand that Rhoda has had a hard life and therefore this causes tension in the friendship.
On the other hand, Macbeth and Banquo where both of high standing: “Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?” Shakespeare’s representation of both characters, at the beginning of the play, portrays that the friendship between the pair is strong. This seen through how they worked for the good of the king. There is no difference in their social standing, meaning that this has very little impact. This varies greatly from the friendship seen between Rhoda and Gertrude. The reason behind this being that the Macbeth and Banquo’s friendship was based on trust and loyalty, whereas Rhoda and Gertrude’s Friendship is non-existent at the beginning of the novel.
Rhoda’s relationship with Gertrude begins with jealousy and obsession: “see if she dark or fair” Near the end of the short story Hardy tells the reader that Rhoda’s jealousy stems from the affair she had with Gertrude’s husband, Farmer Lodge. This causes strain on the friendship later in the short story. This obsession that Rhoda has of Gertrude causes her to have a dream of Gertrude: “Gertrude Lodge visited the supplanted women in her dreams.” In this dream Hardy presents Gertrude as an “incubus” leaving Rhoda frightened. This dream causes the supernatural to be introduced to the novel. Hardy’s use of this dream means that the relationship between both women starts off