The Method Of Characterisation In D.H. Lawrence, "Odour Of Chrysanthemums" (Norton Anthology, 2316 2330)

1359 words - 5 pages

The characters in this story can be studied in their relationship to one another. It is in the attitudes of Elisabeth, Walter, Walter's mother and the children that their thoughts on each other become clear. The most important symbol in this story, the chrysanthemums, also refers to the bond between the two main characters, Elisabeth and her husband Walter.This story is rather predicable because of the indication to the chrysanthemums in the title and the beginning of the account: Beside the path hung dishevelled pink chrysanthemums... (p. 2317). These flowers are linked with death and in a way announce the decease of one of the characters, namely Mr. Bates.The chrysanthemums also refer to the kind of relationship between Elisabeth and Walter Bates. Like all flowers, chrysanthemums grow, blossom and fade. This can be compared to the development of their life as a married couple: 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 chrysanthemums in his buttonhole (p. 2321). In the beginning everything is alright -as it always is when two people are just married- , but gradually problems begin to surface (here: Walter's drinking problem). In the end, they just stay together because they have no other choice: Walter brings in the money and Elisabeth takes care of the children and does all the housekeeping. It is not a question of love anymore, but their life together has become a sort of habit.Elisabeth's waiting for her husband evokes certain memories and bitter feelings towards Walter. As she is expected to do as a good housewife, she has always taken care of him; but she blames him for drinking too much and for wasting their money on alcohol. She has the feeling that the things she does for him are not appreciated. Dinner is always ready and the house is always warm, but he is seldom home in time. She is angry with him for taking all her work for granted and for spending his time drinking at the "Prince of Wales". At the same time there is an indication that Elisabeth is worried about him, because she always looks at the hour: It was half-past four (p. 2319); But it's a quarter to five (p. 2319); Twenty minutes to six! (p. 2321); While for an hour more... (p. 2321); The clock struck eight... (p. 2322); It was a few minutes past nine (p. 2324); At a quarter to ten...(p. 2324). When Walter is too drunk to walk himself home, his mates always bring him, so she has no reason to be concerned. For a moment, though, she gives thought to the fact that something might have happened to him. But then again she realises he will probably be at the "Prince of Wales" or the "Yew Tree" getting himself drunk, as he always does. She is mad at herself for pondering about Walter, because she knows that it will only do her damage.As regard to the children, Elisabeth has a better relationship with them than Walter does. She is the one taking care of them and making sure they are...

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