Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Son's Veto

Of the stories we have read thus far, I found Thomas Hardy’s The Son’s Veto to be the most interesting because it offers readers a very insightful critique of the social class system in-place in England during the nineteenth century. As the story begins we are introduced to the protagonist, Sophy, who we soon learn comes from rather “humble” beginnings in a rural English village; a fact that plays a major role in her unhappiness throughout the story. After she marries into a more “proper” existence, Sophy and her new husband, a preacher twenty years her elder, are socially forced to relocate because they had committed “social suicide”(49) by combining two distinct classes. Here we can see a clear division of the classes and the problems that accompany any attempt to bridge the ‘gap’ between them, no matter how justified the case may be.
As the story continues we are presented with a number of other instances where Sophy is blatantly disrespected and underestimated as a human being because of her initial social standing. When her husband dies he makes sure to leave nothing for her because of her “inexperience” with economical matters. By safeguarding all his possessions with trustees, preplanning their son’s upper-class education, and leaving her nothing but an inner-city villa to live out her lowly existence in, Sophy’s husband clearly displays the apparent social prejudices that existed in nineteenth century England. He felt that a woman of her modest beginnings, despite exhibiting loyal service and affection throughout the years, could never handle such responsibility to properly head a “proper” household.
The final instance of Hardy’s social critique comes in the form of Sophy’s son who believes himself to be a gentleman because of his father’s clerical position. From the story’s commencement we find him correcting his mother’s grammar and in a way, out-casting her because of her past. When he tells her that he is ashamed of her for wanting to remarry a man from her lower-class past it is evident that strong social prejudices existed during this time period. For a son to keep his own mother from acting on the only thing that would make her happy proved that class divisions were quite serious issue and could rarely be resolved even within a family.

2 comments:

Dick said...

Any reader when reading Hardy's work, can see his sympathy for women society has unkindly labeled and/or demonized as fallen women. In the short fiction The Son's Veto, his description of Sophy as being "a woman with a story-an innocent one, but a story of sort or other" shows Hardy's compassion. Her physical description of being "kitten-like, flexuous" and a "tender creature" shows the author's adoration of this sweet natured invalid woman. Regardless of the fact that "Sophy did not exactly love" her husband 20 years her senior, she "was as charming a partner as a man could possess." Naturally living in a Victorian misogynistic era, that left her incapable of inheriting her family home, and as a result she is stuck with her emotionally vacant, materialistic son who orders her not to marry. Her son saw Sam as an added expense...money taken from his inheritance, as it was not a case of the Oedipus complex. Quite possibly a penis complex from beyong the grave had her husband asked her son to police his mother's love life. Class distinctions multiply in this tale of men keeping women under control and depriving them of the basic human right to love another. (RDA-K)

Raghav Bhartia said...

Really Nice One....Enjoyed Reading It For Reference And understanding..
Thanks Indeed