Old Mrs Chundle – Thomas Hardy and A Visit of Charity
Old Mrs Chundle – Thomas Hardy and A Visit of Charity

Old Mrs Chundle – Thomas Hardy and A Visit of Charity

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  • Pages: 5 (2323 words)
  • Published: October 10, 2017
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The two titles, despite being relevant to their respective stories, are misleading, in the way that after reading the heading one would think that in “A Visit Of Charity” the characters and the actual plot is more charitable than “Old Mrs Chundle”, in fact this is not the case. After reading both short stories one will conclude that in “Old Mrs Chundle” true and honest charity is performed as opposed to the “charity” performed in the second story which in all truth and honesty is only performed to enhance the characters’ own ranking with the Campfire Girls.

The way “society”, in our story represented by the curate and Marian, treated the respective old ladies is very indicative of the time in which both stories were written. Thomas Hardy lived in England; he was born in 1840 and died at the age of 88 years old in 1928. He lived in Victorian England, when there was contrast between the upper and the lower classes, namely between the wealthy and the poor. Despite this people were more courteous to one another than in modern day era.

Eudora Welty, on the other hand was born in 1909 some sixty years after Hardy was born. Welty was born in Jacksonville, Mississippi in the USA and is still alive now, she therefore lived in a totally different era and therefore approached the context of her story in a totally different way to that of someone like Thomas Hardy who died only a few years earlier.

Another factor about the different contexts of the stories is wher

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e both stories are taking place. Old Mrs Chundle” occurs in the countryside where there are far fewer houses and therefore most people know each other especially those who live within close proximity of each other. “A Visit of Charity” takes place in the heart of a metropolitan city and therefore we find that the characters have different approaches to one another. I think it essential to analyse the characters in both stories. In “Old Mrs Chundle” the two main characters are Mrs Chundle and the curate.

The curate seems to be kind, innocent, zealous, and perhaps slightly naive as will be shortly explained. Mrs Chundle on the other hand is quite interesting to describe. She comes over quite independent. Typically a woman of the land, happy with her lot as she has never felt the need to go to Enckworth even if the highway starts right by her door. She is shrewd but fiercely honest. Even though she doesn’t want to take money for the curate’s lunch, she quite happily lies to the curate about coming to church as she thought, she wouldn’t be found out.

Hardy portrays kindness in two ways, the first being the helpfulness of Mrs Chundle for giving the curate some of her food which she herself had grown in the back garden ‘been just brought in from the garden’ as is common with most households of the same area “‘Tis all my own growing, that’s true. ” The curate feels that he has to repay the debt, but upon learning how she had lied to him by saying that

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she attended church every Sunday, when in truth the rector hadn’t seen her in all of his thirteen years as head of the parish he was unhappy and called her “A wicked old woman.

This is the first sign of the curate’s “bad” side. Further on in the story the curate seems to portray a certain naivety, when he says he will “obtain the tube,” “at the curates own expense,” just so that Mrs Chundle could hear the sermon, it doesn’t seem to enter his mind that she will not come after the first few times. Mrs Chundle has been a difficult person to deal with. Despite this, she is still very grateful for all the effort the curate had made in order to make her feel more at ease.

She knows that she cannot discriminate between age, race and social class and therefore appreciates that the curate did also not, “He’s a man in a thousand. He’s not ashamed of a’ old woman, and he holds, that her soul is worth saving as well as a richer people’s. ” In Hardy’s work the characters and the way they interact is typically of his time and the setting in which the story is written, namely in the English countryside, where the elderly, who aged gracefully, independent and proud were cared for by neighbours and the parish’s priests who cared more for their spiritual welfare than their physical well being.

It is apparent that the common theme running through Welty’s story is charity as well as she even titles it totally inappropriately: “A visit of charity”, although in truth the only true kindness was performed in the Hardy story, because in the story written by Eudora Welty the only supposed philanthropy is when Marian went to visit the old age home, but her intentions were not true for really she was going for the sole purpose of gaining some ‘brownie’ points which would enhance her status within the Campfire Girls, ‘”If we bring flowers”- Marian began and then fell silent’.

In truth what Marian really meant to say was that this would just gain her a mere few points on her score chart, though it seems as though she is hit by a sudden attack of conscience for she fails to complete the sentence. Unlike Mrs Chundle who lived in a substantially build and “respectable” cottage surrounded by her modest belongings but having her most important possession of all: respectability. The two old ladies in Welty’s text have no dignity at all.

In those days the Americans were obviously too busy with the modern era and acquiring wealth to care about their elders. The two old ladies seem to be abandoned in a Home which borders on a sanatorium without any personal belongings at all “A penny to spare for a poor old woman that’s not got anything of her own. ” No one ever comes to visit them. Where are their relatives or the rest of the community? They are rude and dirty and spend their days fighting. Screaming and insulting each other.

Welty constantly compares them to animals “Like a pet. There is quite a

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