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Odour Of Chrysanthemums Vs. Cry Of The Children

1114 words - 4 pages

We live in a constantly expanding industrial society. Though there are certainly obvious benefits to this lifestyle, particularly in the realm of medicine and technology, industrialization has long been the subject of anxiety and debate in society, particularly during the years surrounding the Industrial Revolution. Of particular interest was its effect on the human condition. In both the short story "Odour of Chrysanthemums" by D. H. Lawrence and "The Cry of the Children" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the authors use the contrast between nature and industry to illustrate the various ways in which industry greatly worsens human lives on a psychological level.To begin, Lawrence and Browning both use their pieces to show that industrialization leads to a lack of freedom in human lives. In both stories, nature is seen to represent freedom, and is placed in stark contrast with modern, industrialized life. "The Cry of the Children" depicts the harsh and hopeless lives of child labourers with brutal detail. It begins with vivid and pleasant imagery of an idyllic nature scene: "The young lambs are bleating in the meadows/ The young birds and chirping in the nest / The young fawns are playing with the shadows / The young flowers and blowing toward the west." Browning immediately establishes a connection between happiness and nature, showing young animals playing and being joyful. The difference between this scene and the lines that follow could not be more obvious: "The young, young children […] they are weeping in the playtime of the others/ In the country of the free." Browning makes this contrast brutally clear: the children, unlike the animals that live in nature, live lives of slavery, not freedom, and are thus miserable. D. H. Lawrence illustrates this same phenomenon very literally in "Odour of Chrysanthemums." He depicts the life of a miner as dull, joyless, and trapped by routine: we see that it is a regular occurrence for the protagonist's miner husband to come home late from work and spend his money getting drunk at a pub. "Aye, it's a nice thing, when a man can do nothing with his money but make a beast of himself!" the miner's father-in-law states bitterly. It is clear that he is unhappy and uses alcohol as a form of escapism; the fact that he is trapped in his life is mirrored very obviously by Lawrence when the miner is trapped in a cave-in at his job. Quite literally, his industrial line of work traps him.It is also made clear in both pieces that industry causes great unhappiness and melancholy in human lives. This is particularly evident in "The Cry of the Children", which shows how miserable and hopeless child labourers are: "All day, the iron wheels go onward/ Grinding life down from its mark." There is no room for happiness in the lives of child slaves. It is evident that they have lost all hope- even religious faith is gone from them. "Is it likely God, with angels singing 'round Him/ Hears our weeping any more?" they ask,...

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