The Rocking Horse Winner by D.H. Lawrence
Written in 1933, D.H. Lawrence's short story "The Rocking Horse Winner" illustrates the consumptive nature of materialism. Through author's use of characterization, symbolism, and language in The Rocking Horse Winner, Lawrence successfully portrays a greedy and cold hearted mother, Hester, who attempts to fulfill the dissatisfaction in her life using wealth and material comfort. Lawrence uses Hester as an example to convey to the readers that materialism isolates one from love and ultimately leads to destruction.
Lawrence uses language that evokes irony and disgust to describe Hester in order to illustrate her coldness and inability to love anybody except herself. "She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them." (407) Lawrence asserts that because Hester is dissatisfied with her life, and refuses to compromise on the lifestyle she expects, she becomes preoccupied with searching for material comfort. However, the "failure made deep lines come into her face" (407), and gradually turns the center of her heart into "a hard little place that could not feel love, not for anybody." (407) Hester describes her husband as an "unlucky husband" (408). Through this expression, it is easy to see that Hester does not love her husband, and blames him for his incapability of making money. Lawrence uses this expression to demonstrate Hester's inability to love, and implies that her dissatisfaction with life is what turns her love to "dust" and causes the failure of her marriage. Through the descriptions of Hester's attitudes towards her husband and children, Lawrence paints a vivid image of a neglectful wife and mother, and asserts that dissatisfaction is the cause of all the miseries in Hester's life.
Lawrence also emphasizes Hester's materialism by demonstrating her childish belief that wealth and material possessions are the substitutes of love and are capable of making up for the dissatisfactions in life. Even though she goes through the motions of being a good mother well enough to fool her neighbors and friends, she is unable to hide the truth from her children. "They read it in each other's eyes." (407) Therefore, she uses "expensive and splendid toys" (407) to fulfill her children's nursery, as if they can fulfill their needs for love as well. Lawrence uses the ironic tone in the expression to illustrate Hester's shallowness. She believes that wealth is the indication of social status; thus it brings satisfaction into her life. The "new furniture" and "flowers in the winter" (414) are all the means she uses to fulfill her life. However, Hester's cold heart remains empty because the more she has the more she wants. Through the language and imagery, Lawrence conveys to the readers that money and material possessions cannot fulfill the dissatisfaction in life, instead, they lead to...