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Thomas Hardys ‘Tony Kytes Arch-Deceiver’ and ‘Old Mrs Chundle’

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Thomas Hardy had an obvious love for Wessex which was his birthplace and setting for both ‘Tony Kytes Arch-Deceiver’ and ‘Old Mrs Chundle’. Although the stories are not particularly factual you learn a lot about the people who lived in Wessex at that time. This is because of the dialect, lack of education and simple way of life. You also learn about the rich and poor class division and male dominance throughout the stories. Both ‘Tony Kytes Arch-Deceiver’ and ‘Old Mrs Chundle’ are humorous because of the ignorance and lack of education of both main characters in the stories.

Tony Kytes is ignorant to women which is apparent when he pretended not to be engaged to Milly for his own benefit. He also had the audacity to lie to all three girls and asked two to hide in his wagon, ‘will ye lie down ….. cover you over with a tarpaulin’ and ‘settled it? I don’t think I have’. The way Tony treats all three girls shows male dominance. Mrs Chundle was ignorant in a different way to Tony. She was not ignorant in a rude way like Tony but rather ignorant to her surroundings – she had never travelled three miles to the nearest village.

I think this shows a definite lack of curiosity and perhaps lack of education. Tony had allowed two girls which he was not engaged to Hannah and Unity, to ride with him in his wagon Milly his fianci?? e, who was also riding in his wagon was hiding along with Unity. Tony new he had got himself into a ‘nunny-watch’ but did not know how to get out of it. However if he was honest to Unity and Hannah and treated Milly like she deserved he would not have been in the situation he was. Tony was very confused about who he wanted to marry which made it harder for him to sort his problem out.

When Tony saw his father, he was relieved and sought his advice, Tony then deliberately ignored it. This is amusing because of Tony’s foolishness and lack of wisdom. In both stories the dialect is odd and amusing, it shows a lack of education and is unmistakably a county accent, ‘oh no; tis the axle’. In Old Mrs Chundle the humour is added when we meet the curate because of the intelligence contrast. The main characters in both stories are amusing in there own little ways. We are told that Tony is a weak minded, scarred womaniser yet many women find him attractive.

Tony also used to sing a rather suggestive song in a religious manner. ‘O the petticoats went off, and the breeches they went on! ‘ This is amusing because it is not the way you would expect a man to act in the mid-1800’s. Mrs Chundles character is deaf, old and simple yet we like her because of that and also her innocence. Tony is not an innocent character he lies and is deceitful and we begin to dislike him because of that. In both of the stories there are misunderstandings, however they are different in each story.

In ‘Tony Kytes’ Tony deliberately misleads the girls, he lied to all three and only one girl new about the other two. In Old Mrs Chundle the curate did not understand why Mrs Chundle lied to him about going to church and consequently called her ‘a wicked old woman’. However I think that Mrs Chundle was rather uneasy with the curate at first because of the contrast between them so was trying to make a good impression. The curate constructed an ‘ear trumpet’ on the lectern at the church to try and encourage Mrs Chundle to come to church more often.

This was a fantastic idea at first until the curate genuinely began to find the stench of Mrs Chundles breath unbearable and removed the pipe. Although the curate did remove the pipe he did not want to hurt Mrs Chundles feelings, he was selfish and thought of himself. Although the curate did not mean to hurt Mrs Chundles feelings when he removed the ‘ear pipe’ Mrs Chundle did begin to irritate him. Mrs Chundle really thought the curate liked her and wanted to help her.

In both of the stories there is an element of farce which is hilarious at times. ‘In Tony Kytes’ Tony does not act innocently, he lies to the girls and treats them with no respect. Mrs Chundle however is an innocent character. It was very amusing when she realises that her ‘ear pipe’ was not working and began whispering to the curate telling him that ‘the pipe is choked’. The curate who had purposely blocked the pipe had no desire to unblock it! Mrs Chundle unaware that she was disrupting the service blew up the pipe dislodging the handkerchief.

This scene appeals to the readers imagination because Thomas Hardy creates a very vivid picture of what is going on, this scene is hilarious. Tony is feckless in both of these stories the comedy is formed by irony. Throughout ‘Tony Kytes’ Tony is aware of everything which is going and was not prepared to do anything about it. Mrs Chundle is faithful to the curate and delighted that he is taking an interest in her, what she does not realise is that he is beginning to dislike her. In both stories suspense is used.

When Tony invites Unity to ride in his wagon we begin to feel suspense. This suspense builds when Milly and Hannah ride in the wagon. We wonder what will happen when they find out about the other two girls and how they will find out. In ‘Old Mrs Chundle’ we feel suspense when the curate takes the ‘ear trumpet’ down, we wonder how Mrs Chundle will react. We also feel suspense when the curate arrives at Mrs Chundles house to find the ‘calico curtains of the cottage windows were all drawn’, at this point we feel anxious for Mrs Chundles health.

Although there are differences in the humour in both stories there are many similarities. At the end of ‘Tony Kytes’ we feel sympathy for Milly and not for Tony and in ‘Old Mrs Chundle’ we feel sorry for Mrs Chundle at the end and not for the curate. Thomas Hardy mixes misunderstandings with humour, confusion with amusement and farce with irony to make his stories successful. The different aspects of humour in his stories makes the reader really enjoy them.

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