Discuss Lawrence’s Presentation of Elizabeth Bates in Odour of Chrysanthemums

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Discuss Lawrence’s presentation of Elizabeth Bates in Odour of Chrysanthemums

Odour of Chrysanthemums is a short story by D. H. Lawrence, written in the autumn of 1909. It is set in Nottinghamshire and tells the tale of a coal miner's wife, a young mother, waiting for her abusive husband Walter to come home. She blames his drinking for his absence. It turns out he has been killed in a pit accident. The story describes the setting before the discovery of his death and the aftermath. The main character in the story is Elizabeth Bates, mother of two and wife to Walter, the coal miner. Elizabeth, the protagonist of the story, is first introduced by Lawrence in a descriptive tone. He describes her as being a tall woman of imperious mien, handsome, with definite black eyebrows. The fact he calls her handsome, a word usually used for describing men, shows that she may carry some male qualities, such as strength. Also, Elizabeth has smooth, black hair parted exactly. Along with her dark eyebrows, this darkness could show a stern side and her hair being parted exactly shows precision and order of which she may have in her life; a routine, a daily schedule. She closed and padlocked the door also, which shows her need for security. Lawrence writes about Elizabeth standing steadily for a few moments watching the miners as they passed along the railway shows that she is curious to know where her husband is. She calls her son, John, and when he replies and she cannot see him she looks piercingly through the dust. She is afraid that he is at the brook, which she had previously told him to avoid. When she sees him hiding before the raspberry canes, she was pleased and gently asked him to come inside. This shows that she is a responsible mother who looks out for her children’s safety and security. This is a major theme given off in Elizabeth’s character. On his way into the house, John tears the wisps of chrysanthemums and drops the petals in handfuls along the path....
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