Formalist Analysis of D. H. Lawrence the Rocking-Horse Winner
Fortune’s Folly: D. H.
Lawrence’s Rocking-Horse Lesson on Luck’s Course D. H. Lawrence’s The Rocking-Horse Winner is a poetic and concise critique of the notion of luck, which effectively uses universal symbols and devices to communicate the ideas through contrast that reveal folly in the almost religious ideals held by many towards the concept of fortune. Set near Hampshire, England, the story is already given an iconic start to it’s theme, as it centers the plot around one of the most literal venues in which luck is nearly worshipped; horse races.Of course, what better place to add to the effect than to place the story where this form of glorified gambling is exceptionally renown? From the outset, Lawrence introduces the story’s conflict—financial need and emotional emptiness.
Dedicating much of the first few paragraphs of the piece to intricately describing the psychological, structural and social problems that this issue creates, Lawrence creates an environment that makes it simple to introduce the idea of relying on luck as a final prayer of desperation.Despite the simplistic language used to narrate the piece, Lawrence introduces a number of genuine issues that affect families of low income. These issues are highlighted in the stark contrast between the antagonist and protagonist consistent throughout the story. Paul’s mother is portrayed as a peculiar antagonist, however, as she is actually a victim herself, incapable of loving her son due to her dire financial situation and her sour relationship with her husband.Despite the cold, unloving environment within the household, Paul grows to be a polar opposite to his mother, who was a dark, pessimistic figure whom blamed all of the family’s issues on the sole fact that her husband “didn’t have any luck. ” On the contrary, Paul was optimistic, determined, and albeit misguided, still loving.
This stark contrast between the two characters outlined two attitudes people can don during times of economic hardship, with the two characters serving as a symbol of each.The mother represented those who lost hope and attacked others for their situation, refusing to accept responsibility and work with others, thus resulting in a cold state of dismay, frozen in society. Paul represented those who despite having little to nothing, relied on what they had to bring them happiness. But despite this positive attitude having merit, Lawrence nonetheless used Paul as a symbol of blindness, as his good faith and benevolent behavior was misplaced in an empty cause, searching for luck, which was his mother’s idea of happiness, and not his own.Thus Paul literally spent his entire life until his early death fighting blindly for the happiness of someone else who did not even love him; and while the story ends with him finding luck in an exceptional form, Lawrence does not depict his mother being happy (nor did he ever in the entire story, even in previous instances of a display of “luck,” in which her mother was unsatisfied), revealing yet another key characteristic of humanity and the nature of gambling: greed.
The point of view used by Lawrence creates an ideal environment for the reader to best understand the message communicated by his devices; an alteration between the perspective of the narrator and Paul maintains the importance of the role of the protagonist while still making it clear as to who the issues in the story effect through the simplified view of an innocent child in a real world with real world issues; and while the other characters serve as additives to the role and purpose of the main characters, they seem to also give the reader hints as to the reality of the situations, allowing them to make the comparisons for themselves.Through this point of view, Lawrence’s communication of the story’s themes is very successful. Themes consistent in the plot are diverse in abstract and literal meanings, differing especially in the manner that they are communicated. Themes like greed and coldness of heart are revealed literally through the attitudes displayed within the family members toward each other, as well as repeated and constant reference to a “voice” that literally dictates “There must be more money! which the very basis in which the concept theme of greed manifests itself. Lawrence also depicts the worship of luck as an illness of human logic by literally bestowing Paul’s pursuit of it upon him as a terminal illness that eventually kills him.
Other, more complicated themes such as emptiness, the meaning of happiness, and the comparative value of life and money are revealed through Lawrence’s application of ymbolism and underlying ideologies. Examples of this include the use of the Rocking-Horse as a symbol of hope, and Lawrence‘s descriptions of the family’s living conditions: the idea of living in style, with the appearance of wealth and surplus masking the broken, wretched, empty, cold and miserable reality of their situation is a fairly universally understood critique of misguided happiness, depicting a life without love and genuine morality.The Rocking-Horse Winner presents a very simple, but very real visualization of the question of happiness, and it’s value over one’s life. Despite all of the sub-themes in the story of emptiness and greed, Lawrence’s story mainly presents the idea that luck, which is usually understood as a positively passive entity, as an opiate of moral destruction, violating the genuine joys of life and swapping will for the worship of wealth.