Materialism over Motherhood
The short story, “The Rocking - Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence elaborates on the important role that wealth plays not only in an individual’s lifestyle, but also their happiness. Paul, a young boy seeking the love of his materialistic minded mother feels a deep obligation to fulfill his mother’s happiness, a place where his father has failed. Through a Freudian approach, one is able to describe Paul’s actions of sexually desiring his mother and ultimately replacing the role of his father as the Oedipus complex .The loving relationship that Paul seeks to instill with his mother becomes one that is only one-sided because, “She herself knew that at the centre of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody” (Lawrence 19). As seen throughout the short story, Paul’s desire of a loving relationship with his mother becomes an obligation that is ultimately the cause of not only a slight acceleration into pre-adolescence, but also the cause of his death.
In the early stages of the short story, Hester is seen to be a respected, loving, and devoted mother of her children when in reality she admits that she can never love them. This is the result of her unfulfilling marriage and it angers her that she is unable to live this luxurious life. Hester states that, “She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them” (Lawrence 18). Due to her deep desire for a materialistic lifestyle, Hester alienates herself from her children because she feels inadequate to provide for her lavish demands. By blaming her children for her feelings of resentfulness, Hester relieves herself of the guilt associated with her failure. She later describes that, “Only she herself knew that at the centre of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody” (Lawrence 19). By illustrating her heart as being an empty space with no place for love, Hester is able to emphasize her feelings of love as being lost in the struggle of wealth. Having seen the desperation in his mother’s words, Paul makes a commitment to become lucky and make enough money to finally end her continuous search for wealth. By stressing the nature of Paul’s commitments to fulfill his mother’s materialistic demands, Lawrence is able to highlight Paul’s unconscious sexual desire, also known as the Oedipus complex that leads to his frantic riding on his wooden horse that will ultimately end the shortage of money. This results in the replacement of his father’s role, which has a great impact on not only his natural rate of growth into the pre-adolescent stage, but also a decrease in his mental health.
As previously stated, Paul’s mother has a deep desire for material objects and wealth forgetting about more valuable gifts such as love and self-knowledge. According to Freud this is said to be part of the unconscious or the id, which is the, “Driving force of an individual’s materialistic wants” (Caroline and Tate). Her only goal is that, “There must be more money! There must be more money!”(Lawrence 19). Money becomes her ultimate obsession and Paul being her saviour, feels it his obligation to end this obsession by giving her more than she desires. Through a Freudian lens one is able to acknowledge Paul’s actions, as forming part of his oedipal complex. His father being almost non-existent and having not brought any financial support to the family, slowly gives way to Paul’s faster development into pre- adolescence in order to compensate for the loss of a father figure. Lawrence states that, “The mother had a small income, and the father had a small income, but not nearly enough for the social position which they had to keep up”(Lawrence 19).By emphasising the shortage of money in the family, Hester encourages Paul to take the place of her failed husband and end the shortage of money. Through the loss of a father figure, Lawrence is able to strengthen Paul’s...
References: Dawe, Robert T. “The Rocking Horse Winner.” Viewpoints 12. Toronto: Prentice Hall, 2002. 18-
Gordon, Caroline, and Allen Tate. "D. H. Lawrence: The Rocking-Horse Winner, Commentary." The House of Fiction: An Anthology of the Short Story with Commentary. Charles Scribner 's Sons, 1950. 348-351. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Drew Kalasky. Vol. 19. Detroit: Gale Research, 1995. Short Story Criticism Online. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.
Russell, Brandon. "The Rebel." : Getting Psycho About "The Rocking Horse Winner" N.p., 19 Jan. 2011. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document