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D.H. Lawrence's use of Language in Odour of Chrysanthemums Essay

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Write a study of the opening of D.H. Lawrence’s short story Odour of
Chrysanthemums. Comment in detail on the way in which Lawrence’s use
of language creates a particular atmosphere and raises certain
expectations.

The opening of ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’ tells us about the domination
of industry over nature. It presents nature at its worst and the
dominance of technology, symbolized by the engine. The focus of the
story is on the engine, the people, nature and its description and the
mood of the story is gloomy, despondent. The struggle of the people
parallels that of nature, which highlights the story. The themes
revolving around the story are tension, struggles, dominance,
disappointment and loss.

At first glance, the title captures the attention of the reader with a
sense of irony. D.H. Lawrence used the title ‘Odour of
Chrysanthemums’ to set the tone of the story and provides a sense of
forewarning. The word ‘odour’ suggests a strong, bad smell but
chrysanthemums are not scented. Only when chrysanthemums are dead do
they give off a smell which is strong and pungent. This implies to
the reader that something terrible will arise soon after. And the
story starts with the locomotive ‘clanking, stumbling’, and moving
clumsily and noisily. It sets the basis of the story (industry,
machinery) which is antithesis with the title. This engine is shown as
something negative and imposing since it is destroying the
tranquillity of nature and taking over it. However, nature is
stronger and this is symbolized by the colt which ‘outdistanced it at
a canter’. The noisy engine which represents the industrial figure
and man-made is slower than the running colt which is created by
nature. The story also ends with ...


... middle of paper ...


...ance of the house gives the feeling that it is not somewhere
you would want to live in. “Winter-cracked trees, ragged cabbages,
dishevelled pink chrysanthemums”; even nature surrounding the house is
ugly. They are struggling to grow against the polluted atmosphere but
are fighting a losing battle. Also the environment in other parts
such as the fields which were “dreary and forsaken” and the “tarred
fowl house” tells us that nature is not at its best at the moment.
“Flames like red sores licking its ashy sides” is like an injury which
will take a long time to heel.

The miners which are unnamed “passed like shadows” is a simile to
describe how blackened they were from the coal. Anything to do with
mining seems to carry negative connotations. The miners being unnamed
shows how little of significance they are compared to the battle of
industry and nature.


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