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‘Tony Kytes, the Arch-Deceiver’ by Thomas Hardy

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‘Tony Kytes, the Arch-Deceiver’ by Thomas Hardy is a light-hearted and humorous story, which shows the relationship between men and women in the late nineteenth century in an amusing and entertaining way.

This story is clearly set in an agrarian community, possibly in Wessex, as that is where most of Hardy’s stories take place. This is suggested by the dialect, which implies that the story takes place in the South of England, in a working class community. It is an almost idyllic setting with almost no mention of any hardships, which contributes to the light-hearted atmosphere of the story.

The main male character, Tony Kytes, is described as a relatively handsome man, “‘Twas a little, round, firm, tight face, with a seam here and there left by the smallpox, but not enough to hurt his looks in a woman’s eye”. He is also irresistible to women, “he was quite the women’s favourite”. This is also shown by the fact that all the female characters in the story want him to marry them.

Tony is a kind and gentle person, but he is also an incorrigible flirt. This is shown by his giving a ride to Unity even though he’s engaged to be married. To a certain extent, Tony is also inconsiderate. This is shown when he is speaking to Hannah in the wagon and says “My Sweet Hannah!” and “Settled it? (his marriage to Milly) don’t think I have!” despite the fact that both Milly and Unity can hear what he is saying an will be very angry and hurt at these words.

The three main female characters, Milly Richards, Unity Sallet and Hannah Jolliver are all very similar in a number of ways. Firstly, they are all in love with Tony, Unity and Hannah being former loves and Milly being his current love and also his fianc�e. They are all also very gullible as they are all willing to believe that Tony loves them and no one else.

Both Unity and Hannah are also very jealous of Milly, as they both want to marry Tony. This is obvious from their comments while speaking to Tony. For example, when Unity says, “Why did you desert me for that other one?” she is obviously bitter that she has been rejected by Tony and by calling Milly “that other one”, implies that Milly is inferior to her. Hannah’s jealousy is shown when she says “You’ve settled it with Milly by this time I suppose”. She sounds disappointed that Tony is marrying Milly, implying that she is jealous of her.

It would have been common for women at the time to want to get married as much as these three. The stereotypical woman would simply get married and then take care of her husband and children.

The stereotypical relationship between men and women at the time explains Tony’s reaction to seeing Milly, while riding along in his wagon with Unity. He asks Unity to hide under the tarpaulin until Milly passes (“Dearest Unity, will ye, to avoid all unpleasantness, which I know ye can’t bear any more than I, will ye lie down in the back part of the waggon, and let me cover you over with the tarpaulin till Milly has passed?”). This is because a woman would not want her fianc� to be alone with another woman and Milly would probably have been very angry if she had found Tony and Unity together.

Tony is also very fickle and easily manipulated by women and he is always willing to fall in love with the last woman he has spoken to. For example, when Unity says “can you say I’m not pretty Tony?”, Tony replies, “In fact I never knowed you was so pretty before!”.

The story ends with things more or less as they were in the beginning. Tony still marries Milly as he had originally intended. Therefore, the story ends well for Milly and Tony, especially for Tony as he at least married one of the women, even though she was his last choice “as his father had strongly recommended her”. The fact that Milly is still willing to marry him after all that has happened would be understandable to readers at the time. She gets a husband and to the reader she is better off than the other two. However, to the modern reader, Milly is stuck with a liar for a husband and would have been better off not marrying him, as the other two did. Overall, it is a happy ending which implies that any problems in relationships between men and women are always resolved and everyone lives happily ever after.

‘Tickets, Please’ by D.H. Lawrence is a complete contrast to ‘Tony Kytes, the Arch-Deceiver’. Hardy’s story is a light hearted and humorous story, whereas Lawrence’s story is much darker and more sinister and shows the darker side of the relationship between men and women and even human nature.

This story has a completely different setting to Hardy’s. Lawrence’s industrial community, probably in the midlands of England, is a complete contrast to the idyllic agrarian society. It is described as a very depressing scene, “black…ugly… stark, grimy, cold…gloomy” which may be caused by the war which was taking place at the time. However, like ‘Tony Kytes, the Arch-Deceiver’, it appears to be a working class community.

The main male character, John Thomas Raynor, is similar in many ways to Tony Kytes. John Thomas is “good-looking”, like Tony. He is also an incorrigible flirt, “he flirts with the girl conductors”, “he flirts and walks out with the newcomer”. However, unlike Tony Kytes, John Thomas Raynor is not easily manipulated by women. He does not fall in love with all the women in the story, he simply goes out with them until he can go out with a newcomer “always providing she is sufficiently attractive”, or when they begin to “take an intelligent interest in him “.

There are many female characters in ‘Tickets, Please’ and like the women in ‘Tony Kytes, the Arch-Deceiver’ they are very similar. However they are completely different from these earlier women. They are described as “fearless young hussies” who “fear nobody”. They also do not take their jobs seriously, “she often hops off her car and into a shop where she has spied something”. As this story is set during the First World War, which was only a few years later, the women might have been expected to behave in the same way as those in ‘Tony Kytes, the Arch-Deceiver’, but this is obviously not the case.

Unlike Hardy’s story, there is only one main female character, Annie. The relationship between Annie and John Thomas is completely different from the relationship between Tony and the three women. They do not love each other. Annie hates John Thomas for rejecting her (“she wept with fury, indignation, desolation, and misery”) and John Thomas only thinks about Annie when there are no new girls (“He cast his eyes over his old flock. And his eyes lighted on Annie.”).

Whereas ‘Tony Kytes, the Arch-Deceiver’ has a happy ending with things as they were to begin with, ‘Tickets, Please’ has a much darker, more sinister ending. The way the girls attack John Thomas becomes almost sadistic. They had become “strange, wild creatures” and one of them, Nora, was “actually strangling him”. There is some similarity between the two endings, as both John Thomas and Tony Kytes are forced to choose who they want to marry (“You’ve got to choose!”). However, unlike Tony who at least gets one of the women, John Thomas is rejected by Annie when he finally chooses to marry her (“I wouldn’t touch him”).

However, it can be seen that John Thomas chose Annie for exactly this reason. By describing the way he says it with a “strange” voice “full of malice” implies that in some way he feels that he is getting his revenge because he thinks that she does not want to marry him. If she rejects him he has escaped, and if she does marry him, she is the one who will suffer.

Annie’s attitude to the incident after John Thomas has left suggests that she regrets her decision to reject him. The way she shouts at the others “fiercely, as if in torture” implies that she actually wanted to marry him but pretends to hate him because she is still angry that he rejected her.

Overall, the two stories show completely different views of the relationship between men and women. In ‘Tony Kytes, the Arch-Deceiver’, Thomas Hardy shows the relationship between men and women in a cheerful and amusing way, whereas in ‘Tickets, Please’, D.H. Lawrence shows the more disturbing side of this relationship.

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