D.H. Lawrence's The Rocking Horse Winner Essay

1382 words - 6 pages

Goth. A name that has had many meanings over the centuries. Beginning as the name used for Germanic tribes beyond the Rhine that were the adversaries of the ancient Roman empire, to the style of architecture popular in medieval Europe, to the literary subset of Romantic literature, and the children of very concerned parents. D.H. Lawrence while his personal relationship with his mother may concern many a parent, was however extraordinarily influenced by Gothic literary thought evident in "The Rocking Horse-Winner". Gothic literature was once a genre once left untouched, but a resurgence of interest and critical examination in it has been on the rise since the mid-twentieth century. This view is collaborated by Devenda P. Varma M.A. Ph.D in his book The Gothic Flame, "Thus the field of Gothic fiction, long viewed as as uninteresting and barren, has gradually come to be recognized as of distinct artistic and literary importance, and is undergoing a new and more favorable critical survey."(Varma 2). The exact definition of what qualifies as Gothic literature does tend to vary over the centuries as different writers make it their own. Once Gothic literature was purely defined by it's architectural namesake, meaning a foreboding castle of some kind, inducing a fear inherent to man's primitive sensibilities had to be involved in the sequence of events. As Dr. Varma notes "The element of terror is inseparably associated with the Gothic castle, which is an image of power, dark, and impenetrable."(Varma 18). However as the events presented in "The Rocking-Horse Winner" offer no such castles, the additional elements of the genre offered by Dr. Robert A. Harris, an English professor, must come into play. Three of the ten criteria offered by Harris on his webpage "Elements of the Gothic Novel" include a suspenseful atmosphere, supernatural events, and women in distress. These elements mark D.H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner" with the mysterious atmosphere of the house, Paul's predictions, and the emotional trials of Hester in the Gothic tradition.
D.H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner" is an example of a Gothic literature due to the eerie atmosphere of the house. Throughout the story, the outside residence of the main characters, Paul and his mother Hester, avoids overt description being reduced by Lawrence to "a pleasant house, with a garden"(Lawrence 72). This facade is meant to contrast with the fearful atmosphere within the house, described so thoroughly by Lawrence "the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There must be more money! There must be more Money! The children could hear it at Christmas, when the expensive and splendid toys filled the nursery. Behind the shining modern rocking horse....."There must be more money! There must be more money!"(Lawrence 73). Professor Weldon Thorton in D.H. Lawrence: A Study of the Short Fiction debates this supernatural whispering as simply being a metaphor for the palpable tension within...

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