Review of D.H. Lawrence's Literature

Essay add: 30-09-2015, 13:46   /   Views: 231
Review of D.H. Lawrence's Literature

In both “Odour of Chrysanthemums” and “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” by D.H. Lawrence, many similarities are present with regards to the plot of the stories, the characters, and the themes. The plots are similar, because each story is about a family who has to deal with troubles because the man in each family who is supposed to be supporting everyone is not doing his job, instead he is spending his money on alcohol. The main character in both short stories is a woman. The themes are related because each story is about death or coming close to dying.

When comparing the plots of these two stories, one must first notice that they are very similar. In “Odour of Chrysanthemums” Elizabeth plays the wife of an alcoholic coal miner. Although her husband supports them financially, his lack of presence as a father to his two children and his nonexistent affection towards his wife causes turmoil within the household. Elizabeth’s father at the start of the story says of her husband, “I hear Walter’s got another bout on… I heerd tell of him in the ‘Lord Nelson’ braggin’ as he was going to spend the b- afore he went: half a sovereign that was” (pg. 2574).

In “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter”, Mabel is the only female present in her family. She is forced to take care of her three brothers, even though they are old enough to care for themselves. She is called a “bull-dog” (pg. 2586), and she has nothing to look forward to in her life except another boring day of taking care of her brothers. Once again there is an alcoholic male who is supposed to be the backbone of the family but is not. “Joe, the eldest, was a man of thirty-three, broad and handsome in a hot, flushed way. His face was red… his eyes were shallow and restless… his bearing was stupid. Now he watched the horses with a glazed look of helplessness in his eyes, a certain stupor of downfall” (pg. 2586).

Both stories deal with death, but in different ways. In “Odour of Chrysanthemum” the one who is faced with death is Walter, Elizabeth’s husband. He does ultimately die, and it is a terrible death of suffocation. In “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter”, Mabel is the character who is faced with dying. She also has to deal with a lose of oxygen, but is saved by Dr. Ferguson. The difference between these two characters and the death that they have to deal with is that, Walter dies because he is supposed to die. He is the “bad guy”. He dies in a way that I would not wish on my worst enemy, trapped inside a four-foot square hole, enclosed by a huge rock. “It is the most terrible job I’ve ever known Seems as if it was done o’ purpose. Clean over him, an’ shut ‘im in, like a mouse-trap” (pg. 2582). On the other hand Mabel is not supposed to die. By attempting to kill herself, she is actually trying to see if she really is a useless human being. Her whole demeanor is a very flirtatious one. She is basically trying to see if a man would ever be interested in her. Once she realizes that Dr. Ferguson is interested in her because she is in front of him naked, she ends her flirtatious ways, and tells him to go put some dry clothes on.

The title of each story helps the reader understand the plot a little more. Each title plays a role in the story. In “Odour of Chrysanthemums”, the chrysanthemum flower plays an important role, and is actually carried around by Elizabeth. “It was chrysanthemums when I married him, and chrysanthemums when you were born, and the first time they ever brought him home drunk, he’d got brown chrysanthemums in his buttonhole” (pg. 2576). This gives the reader an idea of how important the title is to the main character Elizabeth. Every meaningful event in her life that has taken place with her husband has had chrysanthemums present.

“The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” is a self-explanatory title. In the beginning of the story the family is having its last horses taken away from them. When Mabel’s father was still alive, the family was well off financially. That is how Mabel would like to be remembered as the daughter of the horse dealer however; she is now the sister of the alcoholic who sold all of his father’s horses to have money because the family is going broke. “This was the last time. These were the last horses that would go through their hands. The young men watched with critical, callous look. They were all frightened at the collapse of their lives, and the sense of disaster in which they were involved left them no inner freedom” (pg. 2586).

Both of these short stories by D.H. Lawrence, shows a woman’s perspective of life in a family that is not providing a positive living situation. Both Elizabeth and Mabel are trying to find themselves when it comes to the end of the story. Elizabeth is now trying to figure out how she is going to support her family without her husband’s weekly wages, and Mabel is learning that she can get a man if she really wants to even though her brothers say that she is ugly. Both women are not remorseful for the actions that have taken place in the story. Elizabeth does not mourn her husband’s death more than she has to, and she only does so because of her mother-in-law’s presence. Mabel also does not feel sorry for leading Dr. Ferguson on, and making him the “sucker” to see if she really is an attractive woman who can get married someday. Both of these short stories are similar in many ways, especially when comparing the plot, theme and characters of them.

Works Cited

1) M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt, eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, New York, Norton 2001. D.H. Lawrence, “The House Dealer’s Daughter”. Pgs. 2585-2597.

2) M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt, eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, New York, Norton 2001. D.H. Lawrence, “Odour of Chrysanthemums”. Pgs. 2572-2585.

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