Critical appreciation of Three Strangers
Critical Appreciation of Three Strangers summary and Essay Elucidating upon what a story should deal with Thomas Hardy wrote that it should be about extraordinary characters and situations. At least his own stories are always true to this definition.
In Three Strangers the atmosphere, the situation, and the end are entirely extraordinary. It belongs in the first place to a remote spot, full of rocks, forests, bushes. There stood in the midst of it a single cottage of a shepherd.
Secondly, it is about a rainy night when the shepherd is holding a small party on the occasion of the christening of his daughter. And thirdly, it is about three strangers who seek shelter in the cottage.
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Three Strangers Essay
As the party is in progress the rains take an ominous turn. But the darkness and the rains do not dampen the spirit of the dancers within the cottage.
A knock at the door is heard. The shepherd admits the first stranger who, on account of being drenched, seeks the permission of the shepherdess to take a seat in the chimney corner.
Once he has got a warm seat for himself he is out to have more comfort. He asks for tobacco and for a clay pipe which is generously given to him by the shepherd.
The party continues after this short interruption with more rounds of dances. As the young men paused to discuss the tune for the next dance they heard another knock. The shepherd admitted a newcomer.
Summary of Three Strangers
This second stranger is old, gruff, with frosted hair and some large metal seals dangling from his dress. Either from being wet or from sheer habit he emptied mugs of homemade wine that the shepherd gave him.
On being asked where he was going to he gave a one-line answer and said that he was going to Casterbridge to perform a very important business, However, he looked so fearful that the shepherdess became very curious regarding his occupation. To the shepherd’s query, the man said that that he was a wheelwright.
Three Strangers Analysis
The group of singers was unable to think of a new song at one time when this stranger volunteered with lines that startled everybody. At the end of the first verse, he sang-
For my customers, I tie
And take them up on high
And waft’em to a far countree.
To add to the growing suspense of the meaning of the verse, the first stranger repeated this last line, and then the people noticed that he had a deep bass voice.
By the time he sang the second verse the occupation of the stranger is revealed .. he is the hangman who is going to Casterbridge to hang a man whom they knew to have been accused of stealing sheep. They knew also that he had been condemned to death.
In the meantime, there is a third knock on the door. A third stranger is a young man, civil in appearance and dress. As soon as his eyes fall on the man in the chimney corner he becomes nervous. And another moment he was out of doors without a word.
While people are discussing the peculiar behaviour of this young man they hear the sounds of firing. They know that this is the sound of guns from Casterbridge to signal the escape of a prisoner. They conclude that the third stranger was that prisoner.
At another series of firing the first stranger asked if there was a constable in the company. When a person responded he ordered him to collectable bodied men and to go out to chase the prisoner and bring him back. The shepherd also went out with the constable.
The way was wet and in darkness, they had great difficulty in keeping on the right track. But the shepherd was a great help. With his help, they could find the young man who surrendered to them quietly.
Back at the cottage, they found that two officers from the prison and a local magistrate were waiting for them. One of the officers coolly told them that the man they had brought with them was not the condemned man.
The three strangers short story
The explanation came from the man himself. He said that the condemned man was his brother; he was going to meet him and when he saw him sitting in the chimney corner he was quite at a loss and so he fled away.
Apart from maintaining suspense for such a long duration, the story is basically about the condemned man who behaves so stoically in the face of death, that is, in the presence of the hangman.
He was never found afterwards, but in that locality, he become a legend. People still remember that rainy night and that stranger.