The Three Strangers and a Vendetta
- Pages: 6
- Word count: 1446
- Category: Stranger
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The story purpose for each writer is in my opinion totally different. Thomas Hardy has set out to make ‘The Three Strangers’ a story with many twists and turns keeping the reader in suspense until the very end, while Guy de Maupassant has written a story full of revenge and sorrow as well as mystery.
In ‘The Three Strangers’ you always get the feeling that something is not quite right, mainly because of the characters’ actions and reactions towards each other. For example, Shepherdess Fennel’s perception of the Second Stranger automatically gives you the mindset that he has bad intentions. Hardy’s mystery runs much more along the lines as to which of The Three Strangers is up to no good, and he writes it so well that even when you think you are sure who it is there is still a doubt in your mind.
Guy de Maupassant’s ‘A Vendetta’ is like ‘The Three Strangers’ as it is also a very mysterious story but the mysteriousness is of a totally different nature. The mystery is not who the criminal is, as we are told it is Nicolas Ravolati; the mystery is how will Mrs Saverini avenge her son’s death? In this story you don’t have the need to guess as you do in ‘The Three Strangers’. It is more a matter of waiting to see how she deals with her emotions and then finding out (although you are given a clue by the behaviour of her dog) what she actually does to carry out the vendetta. What I also found quite strange was the fact that Mrs Saverini shed no tears when informed about the death of her son. Her immediate thoughts are of revenge.
‘The Three Strangers’ is set in a small village in the old English countryside and is obviously a small community where everybody knows each other. The descriptive writing used by Hardy at the start of the story, could not only be the start of a mystery but maybe a horror as well. For example, when Hardy writes ‘Higher Crowstairs, as the house was called, stood quite detached and undefended’, you get the feeling that something terrible is about to happen, especially when you read the word ‘undefended’. His description of the village is extremely detailed and this detail creates a vivid picture of the village in your mind. This narrative allows you to understand the story better, and it becomes clearer as everything fits into place.
The way Hardy introduces the First Stranger into the story, gives you the sense that danger is lurking. He is not given a name at this point and his actions are particularly peculiar – “He turned aside, and, finding it empty, stood under the pent-roof shelter” – why would the First Stranger go to the Shepherd’s cottage and wait in an outhouse instead of going to the main house? Definitely a strange action. When he eventually enters the house, we find out that this stranger is a smoker who has not only ‘lost’ his pipe and baccy box but also ‘run out’ of tobacco. How somebody who smokes can fail to have all three things required to smoke is beyond me. He also does not seem to be very comfortable when the Shepherdess asks him a few questions. She is obviously just about to ask his name when he cuts the conversation short by saying quickly “But you would hardly have heard of me”. This shows that the Stranger has something to hide.
The Second Stranger’s appearance is more normal, but still, the fact is that two strangers have arrived in the same town which usually only gets strangers sporadically. But doubts about the Second Stranger occurred in my mind when Shepherdess Fennel didn’t take to him. She did not seem to be happy about the way the stranger had responded to her and the Shepherd’s kind hospitality.
It is when the Third Stranger is brought into the story Hardy steps up the pace. It changes from being just mysterious to being both mysterious and exciting as you are now anxious to find the end result. Hardy makes the ending good by creating many twists and turns, such as the Third Stranger being accused wrongly. The Second Stranger (who has now turned out to be a hangman) thinks that the Third Stranger is the man who has committed a crime, but actually it is the man from the chimney corner who is the criminal.
At the end of the story Hardy makes everything fit together brilliantly. He reveals the relationships between The Three Strangers and answers the many questions you may have. One of the burning questions I had was ‘why did the Third Stranger tremble if he had done nothing wrong’ but after I read the whole story, this question was also answered. The way Hardy finishes off the story makes you think that it could have been factual. He tells you what happened to each of the main characters after the night, and this makes you think the characters could have been actual people with real lives.
Guy de Maupassant’s introduction to his “A Vendetta” immediately plants the idea of mystery in your mind by opening with the words ‘Paolo Saverini’s widow’. Just these three words have you thinking that the plot has to do with the murder of her husband. The story’s beginning like that of The Three Strangers, is also a description of the town in which it is set, but is much briefer than Hardy’s. Maupassant moves straight to the heart of the main plot, which turns out not to be about the murder of her husband, but about the violent murder of her son.
This is how ‘A Vendetta’ differs from ‘The Three Strangers’. While The Three Strangers is extremely detailed and paints the whole picture in your mind, Maupassant uses language of a much more implicit nature, which leaves the picture to be painted by your imagination. The language used in ‘A Vendetta’ is also quite literal. There is no metaphoric language used to create an image. This is because Maupassant is trying to create a story where a large amount is left to the reader’s interpretation.
The whole atmosphere in which ‘A Vendetta’ takes place appears to be very violent. This atmosphere contrasts very differently to that of ‘The Three Strangers’. While ‘The Three Strangers’ atmosphere can be at times quite light hearted and comical, ‘A Vendetta’s’ atmosphere is dark and evil. An example of this darkness is best illustrated when Maupassant writes ‘the starving animal leapt and seized at his throat… Then he lay, still while Frisky wrenched at his throat, tearing it to ribbons.’
‘A Vendetta’ has a time span of approximately four months. By using this range of time Maupassant successfully portrays the old woman biding her time in order to plan her ominous attack to perfection.
Throughout ‘A Vendetta’ Maupassant concentrates on just one character; the old woman. Maupassant also reveals mysteriousness about the old woman herself, and this is bound to happen when there is no one with whom the character can interact. Since Maupassant is working with just the one character, he takes us into her over-crowded mind and shows us what she is thinking. ‘The mother had a sudden inspiration, the fierce vindictive inspiration of a savage’. This sentence shows us the sinister thoughts that enter her mind in the quest to avenge her deceased son. Another incident in the story, which shows the old woman’s dark side, is when she gets the feeling of sheer excitement from her dog’s savageness. It is almost as if she can taste the blood her dog is going to draw from Ravaloti to satisfy her thirst for revenge.
Hardy has many characters making up his story, so rather than showing us his characters thought process, he writes about the way they communicate and interact with each other.
The ending once again reiterates the pain and anguish Mrs Saverini has experienced over the death of her son. When she arrives at the house of Nicolas Ravolati she takes great pleasure in having her dog murder him, and seemingly feels no remorse whatsoever, as Maupassant writes ‘The old woman returned home that evening. That night she slept soundly’.
Though both of the stories are mysteries they are very different. Hardy has created a story, which sets the stage for several endings. The language he uses creates a ‘whodunit’ type atmosphere, as it is a story that begins at a slow pace but gradually steps up as we meet each character. ‘A Vendetta’ is filled with sorrow, hate, rage and finally revenge. Maupassant has created a piece of writing which leaves you uneasy and uncomfortable with the mother’s state of mind.