Literary Analysis Research Dh Lawrence English Literature Essay

D. H. Lawrence was raised in a lower class mining village in England by a father who had little education and worked as a coal miner, a profession his mother, the daughter of an engineer and a school teacher was not pleased with. The influence of Lawrence’s upbringing can be seen in his fiction. An example is “The Rocking Horse Winner,” a story which focuses on a boy’s relationship with his mother. Lawrence explores the evils of capitalism and greed as seen in Paul’s tragic fate. “This story criticizes those who equate love with money, luck with happiness.” Paul in his quest to satisfy his mother’s greed, in the hopes of winning her love and affection, rides his toy rocking horse which mysteriously reveals the names of the big horse race winners. With the help of his uncle and the family gardener, Paul gambles on the races and manages to win a substantial amount of money for his mother on her birthday. Unfortunately, this only fuels his mother’s greed and want for more. So Paul sets out to try to win his mother more money. He rides his rocking horse until he passes out and loses his young life. Lawrence uses symbolism and characters to explain how the love of material things can and does destroy families who fall into this trap.

The repetition of the phrase “there must be more money” throughout the story shows Lawrence’s effort to emphasize capitalism and greed in modern society. This materialism is even more evident after Hester gets her birthday present and to her son’s disappointment, shows no appreciation for the one thousand pounds, “her face hardened and became more expressionless”. Instead, she wants all five thousand pounds paid out to her immediately. She succeeds in getting it and goes about redecorating the house and catering to her expensive taste. This only makes the house whispers even louder, and mad for more money, which makes Paul even more anxious. Lawrence uses the covetousness and greediness of the mother and the effect it has on her child to show how materialism can affect a family, creating undue stress for both parents and children. The family does not focus on what they have, which are each other, but focus on the material things they do not have and want, but do not need. As a society, the more money we get, the more we want, and it is a never ending cycle. Paul riding his toy rocking horse to an unknown destination symbolizes a never ending quest to try to satisfy modern man’s greed, because greed is insatiable.

Lawrence uses Hester’s character to explain this truth. After she gets her birthday present, she wanted all the five thousand pounds immediately and manages to get it, but it is still not enough, because now the walls are not whispering, but screaming for more money. Apart from being dissatisfied and frustrated in her marriage, Hester also lacks affection for her children. She tries to make up for it by buying them more toys. Despite her efforts to make up for her lack of affection, both she and her children are aware of the painful truth, “They read it in each other’s eyes.” As much as she may try to conceal her emotions, the children can feel her disconnect and no amount of toys can make up for that. What Lawrence portrays here is that material things cannot replace a mother’s love and affection for her family. The story’s central theme is that the love of money cannot make up for the love of a human being, and trying to make this substitute only brings about society’s destruction. The story “combines elements of the supernatural and a fable with a variety of Lawrence’s favorite traits, such as the unhappy marital relationship, the capitalist obsession with work and money.” Lawrence condemns the mother’s actions and shows the tragic effect her greed has on her family, especially her young son.

The use of a non participant narrator gives Lawrence the ability to write the story in such a way that he is able to reveal the thoughts and motives of all the characters. The reader is able to see what is really going on in the hearts and minds of all the characters. This allows him to explore the motivation of the characters, which is greed, without having to compromise his stands on the issue. Hester, the mother is the central character representing modern man’s insatiable greed and young Paul is the poor victim who buys into the idea that money is the only way he can win his mother’s love and attention. In the end he wins a lot of money for his mother, eighty thousand pounds, but this costs him his life. The mother’s greed is compounded by the fact that even by her son’s death bed, she is still thinking about money. “And even as he lay dead, his mother heard her brother’s voice saying to her: My God, Hester, you’re eighty odd- thousands to the good, and a poor devil of a son to the bad.” How greedy can a mother be, to be looking at her dead son, and not recognizing that she is to blame for his death and still be thinking about money?

Throughout the story, Lawrence successfully uses symbolism and characters to condemn the idea that money and material things can replace the love and affection shared in a family. No amount of money can make up for the warmth and care parents show their children. Trying to replace love for money can have far reaching consequences on a family. Though the case of Hester and Paul in the “Rocking Horse Winner” are more extreme, ending in death, trying to replace the parental love and affection with material things can have dangerous consequences for families. “To supplant love with money is a deception through which everyone can see. In the story, no one is fooled.” Capitalism, greed and modern man’s quest for material things can be detrimental to our society and in the end we all loose. As Lawrence himself said in his poem, “Money Madness”, “We must regain our sanity about money, / before we start killing one another about it. / It’s one thing or the other.”

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