Growing up in a capitalist society and living with his mother who showed no affection were only a few of the tasks David Herbert Lawrence mentions in his story “The Rocking-Horse Winner.” Did these negative aspects influence him or did they break him? We are sure of one thing: the characters included in this short story symbolize and show relation to the life of this particular author. The nostalgia for a mother’s love and acceptance was what brought this story to its peak of interest through the character of Paul, a child. For example, Lawrence states, “That [when] you fight is only a sign that you want in yourself, the child knows that; your own soul is deficient, so it fights for the love of the child”( qtd. in Davies 124). Lawrence’s tragic and obsessive relationship with his mother led to neglect, along with money-dominated capitalism which he presents in his story “The Rocking-Horse Winner”, and Lawrence enforces the harmful impact that money can have on a family household.
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Lawrence uses a wide description of irony in “The Rocking-Horse Winner”. For instance, Lawrence’s wondrous feeling towards Paul’s prediction of horse races and making money is dampened by Hester being ungrateful and wanting more money. The author furthers a sorrowful resolution for the cause of Paul’s death. Furthermore, tragic irony is used in this story when Paul predicted so many winning horses, but ended up losing his life in the end of the story. Furthermore, “Paul’s death of course makes the story a tragic one; but just as tragic is the death of innocence and love, symbolized by Paul, in his unfortunate mother” (Koban 396). In addition, situational irony occurs when we as the readers thought the outcome of the story will end with Paul and his family being affluent, but they end up with a loss that could not be brought back.
Furthermore, another problem that Lawrence portrayed in “The Rocking-Horse Winner” is that capitalism dominates within the society. On the other hand, Lawrence links “The Nature and Logic of Capitalism written by Robert L. Heilbroner in “The Rocking-Horse Winner.” Heilbroner’s view of capitalism is that, “Capital is not a material thing but a process that uses material things as moments in its continuously dynamic existence” (qtd. in Watkins 296). Capitalism initiated the obsession, tragedy, and neglect money caused within the household. For instance, “The desire for money pervades the home, the withdrawal of the child into his private fantasy world” (Watkins 296), and also the power relations of a capitalistic society. D.H. Lawrence’s use of capitalism within “The Rocking-Horse Winner” is portrayed through the characters in his story: “[Paul] is a laborer for his mother, to whom he gives all of his money, only to find that the more he gives the more she needs” (Watkins 297). To sum up, the capitalistic society that Lawrence was brought up in as a young child and how it causes financial burdens is applied within this story.
In addition, money was the powerful force which cause Hester to become such an greedy and ungrateful soul. For example, money is an issue with Hester because she tried to live on a social scale that she couldn’t afford to be on. As a result, “There must be more money!” (Lawrence 366) signifies the insecurity that Paul and his sisters experience due to the withered love between Hester and her husband. Money, on the other hand, must be kept in perspective and not romanticized into a substitute for love, as it is in “The Rocking-Horse Winner.” Money initiates obsession and neglect; for example, Hester shows more significance and love for materialistic objects than showing it for her own children.
Furthermore, Lawrence used his personal relationship with Lady Cynthia Asquith to influence the role of Hester in “The Rocking-Horse Winner.” Asquith was a longtime friend of Lawrence and influenced his stories: “Biographical materials will show the striking similarities between the Asquith family and the family in the story” (Davies 123). For instance, “Lady Cynthia lost her capacity to love her son, although she struggled not to do so” (Davies 125). In addition, Lawrence also changed the age and sex of the children; Lady Cynthia had three boys, in which Hester having two girls and one boy instead “There were a boy and two little girls” (Lawrence 365). Moreover, it was the poor social and personal situations in Lady Cynthia’s life including the other associates that D.H. Lawrence met in England that influenced the blatant and blithe moral in “The Rocking-Horse Winner.”
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Through the life influences of D.H. Lawrence comparison to “The Rocking-Horse Winner,” from growing up in a money-dominated society and dealing with a neglectful mother, Lawrence portrays his life through Paul. Lawrence’s childhood as an unloved young man and his own personal fantasies are portrayed in a short story in which riding the horse is what the author had in his possession, but the magnificent supernatural gifts were not present in reality. These supernatural gifts were given to the character Paul. Lastly, the contemporary life situations of D.H. Lawrence’s life gave “The Rocking-Horse Winner” morality, theme, and most of all the tragic events that money can bring.
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