A critical study of the short stories & the short novels of d.h. lawrence
Submitted for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
M.J.P. Rohilkhand University, Bareilly 2007
Mrs. Sangita Gupta
M.A. (Eng.) B.Ed.
Under the Supervision of :
Dr. A.L. Jain
M.A., Ph. D. (English)
Postgraduate Department of English
Hindu College, Moradabad
D. H. Lawrence, a man of a creative genius had woven intricate pattern out of his fictional writings and left an indelible mark in the literary world. He was born in September, 1885 in Eastwood, a mining village in Nottingham which remained for him “the country of my heart”. Belonging to a miner’s family, he did not have a happy childhood. His parents lacked harmony in their relationship and this left an unremittingly dark scars on the souls of the children. Lawrence was attached to his mother very much, who in her all bitterness had diverted her passion towards her children and was very possessive about them.
Along with his mother, Jessie Chambers, was the dominating influence who encouraged him in his writing and also gave a new meaning to his emotional and intellectual growth in life. This relationship met an untimely death because of intervention of his mother as “the deepest of his love belonged to his mother”.
Another woman who entered Lawrence’s life was Frieda, wife of his former French Professor. The lady was unhappy and in search of some kind of meaning in relationship with much younger Lawrence.
It was observed that women in his life contributed a great deal in shaping his life as an artist. He drew freely on his personal obsessions, experiences and relationships in his fictional writings yet he did not embody everything from his life. He was pre- eminently an artist who had an aesthetic sense and thus fact and fiction are inextricably intertwined in his short stories.
Lawrence’s tales formed an important part of his total work and his short novels were a special and sustained achievement belonging roughly to the last decade of his life and the majority of his tales appeared in various collections throughout his life.
The Prussian Officer, (1992), The Ladybird (containing the Lady Bird, The Fox and The Captain’s Doll), (1923), St. Mawr (1925), The Woman who Rode Away (1928), The Escaped Cock (later titled The man Who Died), (1929), The Virgin and the Gypsy after Lawrence’s death in 1930. A few others appeared in posthumous volumes such as Love among the haystacks (1930), The lovely Lady (1933), and A Modern Lover (1934).
These stories were a widely differing kinds. Lawrence could try anything with his short stories because the power and striving of the mind could never rest and as a result he gave unforgettable tales of “variety” to the literary world.
A Sick Collier, Odour of Chrysanthemums, Daughters of the Vicar are Shown as Lawrence’s portrayal of the miner’s home life. Odour of Chrysanthemums and Daughters of the vicar are considered to be the masterpieces of the period from 1909 to 1911 which were revised later till 1914.
Daughters of the Vicar was more ambitious tale which was about the working class life- struggle therein Lawrence presented the choices of two daughters as moral issues involving allegiance and focusing two opposed conceptions of marriage. Faithfulness has been rendered to the feelings of the two girls.
The Thorn in the Flesh and The Prussian officer deals with theme of war and its violent effect on the psyche of the characters. These tales are intense and the characters find their release at the end.
The White Stocking is an optimistic tale about a young married couple in conflict. It is finely imagined tale with a satisfactory, happy ending. Shadow in the Rose Garden too deals with the same man- woman relationship.
The theme of ‘compulsion’ has been discussed in The Blind Man, You Touched Me, The horse Dealer’s Daughter. ‘Touch’ for Lawrence was a form of physical contact that transcended the sensuous experience and evokes powers that lie beneath everybody consciousness. These stories celebrate the triumph of love and life. The Ladybird, The Captain’s Doll, The Fox, published in the same volume of 1923 were preoccupied with the theme of male domination and a female submission.
These stories were written in objective style, on the verge of irony. The success of these tales depended on the employed analogies in them from which they even got their titles. St. Mawr (1927) written in highly objective style with a comic flavour wherein, the central analogy is stressed between a human being and an animal. The story deals with repressed and unrepressed emotions and was dominated with magic and visionary qualities.
Lawrence’s life was full of daring adventures and endless travels and his tales formed a part of these rich experiences. The Woman Who Rode Away (1928) is about a woman who travels alone to explore the unknown regions and lands among the Indian tribes. This experience lent a mysticism and variety to his collection.
The Escaped Cock or The Man Who Died, is entirely miraculous and visionary. Again, an analogy is important in this. The theme of resurrected man, the dichotomy of life- death which has a biblical reference is a great experience for the readers.
The mobility of his characters was central factor which made way to understand his rich, intricate, varied tales. By characters, is meant, “The sum total of qualities or features by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others”. Man is a product of his environment. Lawrence wanted to lay emphasis on the complexity of human personality that is why one finds his characters not static but independent and kept developing. Since the personality of most of his characters assumed an original creation of Lawrence out of his live experiences and living images, one finds perfect correspondence between an author and characters. His characters strive to express themselves and thus, a conflict takes place, their inner passions drive them to action and this provided Lawrence, ‘reality’ at multiple levels. While reading his short tales one finds his characters fragmentary and the chaos of interpersonal relationships and fragmentation of knowable reality has been dramatized throughout both in content and their behaviour which also reaches to the center of man and his innerself. Lawrence’s attention is focused upon the inner life of an individual. The insight within the characters give the readers understanding of their inner beings and the ‘characters’ and ‘readers’ concept merges into ‘universal psyche’.
The characters of Lawrence offer signs of progress and perform the function of completing the narrative pattern. They are round characters who get modified or modify the happenings in the tales. He has tried to portray his women characters with a close and natural insight.
Lawrence was influenced by Freud to great extent. He not only dealt with his characters at physical and emotional levels but also at psychological level, and this gave complexity to his characters and the concept of ‘individuality’ was stressed. The readers are able to identify with these characters and are forced to travel the dark recess world of theirs and emerges out of it, understanding them to some extent. But sometimes it was seen that some of his characters go to the limit of abnormality which draws some line between them the reader.
The twentieth century writings seek to minimize plot and emphasis is laid on character or situation or both and were concerned about “point of view” from which the story is told, as this helped in shaping the character. Lawrence, by exploring his characters at these levels of realism has freed and matured his art and made it flexible and capable of making immense development. He believed in “autonomy” of his characters.
The stream of consciousness technique has been employed sometimes to depict the mental and emotional reactions of characters to external events. The action is presented in terms of images and attitudes within the mind. The evolution of his women characters in his tales is considered explorations of modern feminity, and their place in the society. With the positivity of emotions in women and existing being of men, he involved human body in ‘sensual’ and ‘spiritual’ levels; the natural development of which depends on the individual’s psyche. His characters are in a continual effort to discover the meaning and identity of themselves.
There are variety of characters being projected by Lawrence in his short stories but what is worth noticing is that none seemed to be content in their lives and a continual strife, impatience, discontent, struggle to achieve something ‘unknown’ is there is mot of his characters. Since Lawrence creates characters with whom he was well acquainted, he was able to maintain his control over their actions. However these characters ripen, mature and advance assuming a solid identity, “Woman has always been his source material”.
The period of four years of his travel is considered the period of the maximum output of Lawrence’s literary writing. The rich experiences obviously helped in giving varied kinds of characters. But it is the women characters in particular who explore, progress, advance, think and feel. The real protagonists in majority of his short stories are women. Male characters have not much to play when women characters enter the scene and they perform as secondary characters. It is women who dominate the subject matter but this does not mean that Lawrence has not done justice to his male characters. It’s his method of selecting and emphasizing the significant moments in the lives of the protagonist, the effect of fixing at various psychological range gives his characters a substantial place whether thy are males or females. They materialize and have a palpable reality.
Lawrence had the sensitivity to project his characters such as the readers can feel and see them in the stories and have rich experience. Besides these characters live as split beings between a “Private realm” of self and “outer realm” created by the author. Lawrence relied on descriptions to establish the harmony between the two realms. These descriptions were drawn from nature, images, symbols, from the surroundings or by simple adjectival words.
Lawrence has used abundance of symbols and images throughout his fiction with interlacing pattern of complex episodes to explain indirectly what his characters are and do. A literary symbol unites an image (the analogy) and an idea or conception (the subject) which that image suggests or evokes. The symbol puts the analogy in place of subject and what it meant is understood by inferring by virtue of association.
A symbol is a powerful image charged with meaning that is not easy to explain in plain words. D.H. Lawrence evolved a set of symbols that enriched the themes of his short stories. His symbols relate to one another, his images become ‘imagery’ words which are used metaphorically to comment on character or action. His sense of reality in Eastwood and experiences of other places together developed his ideas about the nature of man and his connections with all the various non- human forms of life. He used various symbols for experiencing the same feeling in different stories and felt that man could identify himself with primitive communities which were relatively unspoilt by industrialization. Lawrence can be read at two levels i.e. realism and symbolism. Imagery is not merely used to elucidate the plot. The two levels of realism and symbolism are equally important and a balance is struck between them.
The word ‘image’ no longer is restricted to visual picture but it now includes the imagination of an impression made upon the five senses, hearing, taste, touch and smell as well as sight.
Image, often has an effect of the opposite of what was intended. The use of the image can be for innumerable intentions and Lawrence never lost his strings on the images he used to suggest his themes. The homeliness of his images startles the readers which he used with simple economy and force which adds to the impact on the whole.
Lawrence was fond of employing animal- imagery, sexual imagery and also nature and religion formed the source of his images. He had imaginative truth combined with intellectual control which made possible for him to animate his images and enlighten his themes. The mind is considered to operate at two levels at once, consciously and unconsciously. Ideas, images and pattern that appeal to the individual are retained by the unconscious mind and often reappears at the conscious level being called forward by new associations. The mind makes these free associations among the countless ideas stored away in the unconscious.
The continual use of symbol and images enriched and provided better insight to his stories. One also notices that his characters are clearly symbols of intellectualism on one- hand and dark and primitive life force on the other. The Fox, St. Mawr, the White Stocking, The Ladybird, The Captain’s Doll, etc., all have symbols which give the names to the stories and life force to their characters in contrast to the characters coming from civilized society.
Symbols are not merely connotative words but also evocative and emotive. In addition the meaning conveyed, they evoke reader’s mind who has host of associations with emotional significance. Lawrence knew how to blend an imaginary and real world which was marvelous.
This was perhaps possible because of influences of various writers on him. Romanticism and imagination was the result of Shelley’s supreme influence, Whitman’s cult of sensual and from Nietzshe, the concept of becoming rather than being. The perfection of art could be achieved through symbolism of the senses. So Lawrence allowed his imagination free rein, conceived the whole natural world as a passionate allegory of human desire and satisfaction. The use of symbols and imagery helped Lawrence to fuse and emphasize the unity of the human and the natural world. ‘Symbolism’ also helped him to discuss complex issues in an amazing artistic fashion. Lawrence develops his ideas meaningfully at a realistic level but a great deal of significance can be understood from his symbolic use of imagery which he employs. The focus is sometimes on the psychological aspect of the story symbolically.
D.H. Lawrence was mainly concerned in revealing the quality of experience; not merely to give the feel of it to the readers but also discover the values actualized by it. To convey this experience, he took to “constitutive symbols”, which were source “to unite the unconscious with the conscious” for him. The ‘constitutive symbols’ give significance to the meaning. It could be character, situation or a theme which is illumined by it. This is in contrast to the theory of Jung who interpreted symbols entirely in terms of inner functioning of psyche. Symbols do not arise out of experiences but it is a spontaneous activity within the psyche for Jung.
Both symbols and images are analogies. What is different between the two is that symbols present something indefinite whereas image something very definite which includes vision, thoughts and feelings. Most of Lawrence’s animals. Objects from nature have a wholeness and integrity of being. He felt that man could achieve balance within his more complex mode of consciousness. He had used in abundance, various kinds of symbols, images as characters, as concepts and to generate a sense of mystery for the readers and also to lend a ‘completeness to his works as a whole’.
Elaborate and complex elements go into making a work of art. They are best revealed and understood through medium of words which invoke meanings as well as the grammatical conventions which govern the language. Individual sentences, compositional elements and the pattern in which action, character and setting are arranged which contribute as a whole to the narrative.
The implications of words and endless variety of meaning which emerges out of which the narrative is composed has undergone changes slowly with times and has been slowly adapted too but the entire effect is on how the author presents it to the readers. The short story is a form of literature which gained its popularity towards the middle of the end of the nineteenth century; This is the only form which gives variety to a story writer with endless possibility of trying anything and everything. D.H. Lawrence has used his inner eye to explore the varied concepts of human inner psyche through this form of art.
He narrated his tales with a point of an observer but had the ‘sense of command’, in his stories. Over-reliance on subtlety and on delicate impressions of mood, scene situation and the carefully unraveling of the psychological strands that make up impressions of his tales. Characters and situations are presented with powerful economy and each paragraph is packed with poetic, vivid details which added something to the structure of the whole.
Lawrence has employed ‘time sequence’ in some of his tales. The narration shifts from present to past and after flash back to the present. This makes things easier for the readers to understand. What is remarkable about the stories is the lucidity and also the quality of arrangement of words, scenes, which flow fast and direct; and leaves the required effect on the readers as desired. His characters are so inextricably involved in unfolding the story that the reader feels that he is living the story. He knows how to present experiences of space and time, a sense of continuity and discontinuity of human consciousness of being in the world. The medium to do was entirely linguistic. His visualized verbless phrases lends a special quality to his tales. Lawrence is an impersonal Omniscient Narrator, as most of the tales begin in third person . What is important is the kind of “language of implication” he has used to give a distinct quality.
Stream of consciousness is another technical feat to which Lawrence was attracted. This helped him to explore the core of human experience, a deeper insight to the hidden movements of mind and the emotions.
New modes of perception which imply new modes of description of character were vital to Lawrence. This allowed a certain “freedom “ to the reader to interpret the story. It is in the interaction of the writer’s language with the position it affords the reader to understand the element and the characters of the text. Plot is always of secondary importance; what matters in his tales is a situation or atmosphere or sensuous evocation of nature.
The stories are written in objective and fluent style on the verge of irony and full of symbols, analogies and imagery which provide richness and intricacy to his tales.
D.H. Lawrence believed that the business of art is to reveal the relations between the man and the Universe. The felt that the ‘relation’ itself is central clue to human life. For him all emotions go into the achieving of ‘infinity of pure relations’, Man- woman, man and man, man and the universe. His philosophy of life is enshrined in his prophetic vision of a perfect, harmony in integrated life, achieving a “wholeness of being”. This ‘wholeness’ can only be achieved if one brings a harmony between ‘sensual’ or physical and ‘spiritual’ dynamics in life. His religion was a belief in blood and flesh’ and was against intellectualism. His emphasis was on ‘being rather than ‘knowing’ like Existentialists.
Lawrence’s philosophy is always the study of man. His main interest lay in human experience, living in its totality; to grasp[ this he would bring glimpses into the realm of non-human life. For he believed that life must be lived from the deep as a self- responsible individual with relation to other individuals. Lawrence felt that by intuitive alone, man can be really aware of the living substantial world.
Man and Woman relationship loomed large in his mind. Along with sensual love, he stressed the vital idea of marriage. His treatment of love knew no surrender of the self, no denial of life, no alienation from sex; by suggesting the conjunction of ‘urge of love’ and ‘urge of power’. He widened the scope of love to accomplish the motive of making life a whole. In order to achieve this ‘wholeness’ one has to keep in touch with blood consciousness. It was difficult for Lawrence to separate sex and love from one another. Love for him is a ‘unifying force’ a force of creation.
He also emphasized on the ‘individuality’ of the human being. He spoke of three kinds of love between man- woman, social love and spiritual love. He looked for reconciliation of the duality of male and female in human beings. Love between man-man also forms an integral part of his philosophy of love, which provides an experience of blood- brotherhood which forms a part of ‘blood consciousness’ which then should lead to universal love.
His cosmology is based on ‘individual soul’ in the ‘universe’ This has a polarity of ‘life and death’, and death is also a reality of life and life is individual in nature. By preaching ‘blood- consciousness’, he did not suggest to go back to barbaric age but emphasized the value of selection and specialization. He wished the reform in the society through an individual. He wanted an individual to live life spontaneously and be conscious of the ‘blood’ and not trapped into economic prosperity and social well-being.
Above all, he maintained that the loving soul had to be reborn and this rebirth could be gained only be liberation, which is possible if man recognizes his primitive instincts. For him realism existed in the dualistic pair of opposites, male and female, conscious and unconscious. He attributed soul and to the flesh and nature whereas spirit was associated with intellect and consciousness. The perfect balance between these two was called for.
- Then only one achieves “fullness of being, which was realization of God: for him God existed in nature. Every part of the universe was manifestation of God.
Lawrence’s theory against premature intellectualism was seen as an attack on modern educational doctrine. He felt, to awaken child’s consciousness before he is capable of genuine emotional life beyond simple responses, is a violation of a child’s instinctive somatic activity. He propagated the free and natural growth; from emotional physical to the intellectual.
He believed in the supremacy of the inner light and voice of conscience and that man should not depend on reason or believe in any authority. This belief was against Christian state. He did not believe in Christian dogma of ‘love motive’ alone. He felt Christianity makes a soul into fragments and not as a ‘whole’; it was designed for a world of pure bodiless individuals not for the world of men- who posses bodies, who were not limitless, who have certain physical needs to be satisfied; to acknowledge the power in the flesh not the power of unseen God.
The essence of Christianity is a ‘love of mankind’ but it took no account of the source of that love’ which should be the motive of all faith, according to Lawrence. Life can have no mission of there is conflict between ‘blood’, ‘body’ and ‘spirit’ which hampers ‘purposive activity’. Therefore, Lawrence opened possibility of rediscovery of the dynamic religion of all mankind. A vision to the modern world which brings ‘a perfect, balanced harmony in life, and make an individual a ‘whole’.
R.J. Rees commented once, that D.H Lawrence “started as a poet. But later it was in the novel and above all in the short story that he found his ideal means of expression”.
He made his own innovations and discovered his own tradition. He was more spontaneous than any other writers of his time. Lawrence’s emotional and intellectual horizons were obviously wider and he did not confine himself to be a ‘regional writer’. His sun shines beyond the four walls of consciousness.
The tales of D.H. Lawrence certainly are ‘rich’ passionate experiences’ which provided an ample opportunity to ‘educate our feelings’ and no doubt in the process one falls in love with the ‘artist and man’ whom Katherine Mansfield ‘loved and valued. And as one enters and leaves the world of his own he is overcome by a sense of deeper human understanding.