Formalist Analysis of D. H. Lawrence the Rocking-Horse Winner

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  • Topic: Protagonist, Narrative, Narrative mode
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  • Published : February 8, 2012
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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...
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