Analysis Of ' The Rocking Horse Winner ' Essay

Analysis Of ' The Rocking Horse Winner ' Essay

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D. H. Lawrence’s depiction of gambling in “The Rocking-Horse Winner” is one of obsession. The obsession manifests itself through each character in different ways; Paul’s obsession manifests itself as the desire to find “the winner,” his mother’s obsession is with spending the winnings, while uncle Oscar and Basset, two men of opposing classes, are obsessed with both winning the races and the sport itself. This obsession is Lawrence’s attempt to reflect post-war British society’s obsession with gambling through the medium of literature. And by portraying post-war gambling in a negative light, he parallels the view of the Protestant church, which viewed gambling as a sinful act.
This parallel becomes evident when reading Ross McKibben’s 1979 article, “Working-Class Gambling in Britain 1880-1939.” McKibben asserts that gambling existed as the predominant leisure activity well before the post-war era, one in which all socio-economic classes participated. But due to pressures from church officials, our contemporary conception of gambling in post-war Britain has been labeled with the connotation of being a wholly destructive act.
Prior to 1919, the sport of gambling developed into Britain’s largest national leisure activities. As early as 1850 many considered the “horses” a prestigious institution, one that could bring in over a million pounds worth of bets in a single race (McKibben 148); however, the popularity of the sport did not reach its height until the invention of the telegraph which allowed mass betting through the rapid publication of results (148). Through the use of new technologies, gambling reached a wider audience through the ease of access made possible by communication technologies. And while it is largely assumed that...


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...that engulfs a young boy into the dark abyss of obsession, thus becoming a necessary cause for his death. This reflects British society’s obsession with the sport, but it does so in an inflated, alarmist tone that does not accurately reflect the reality of gambling in post-war Britain. McKibbin’s article shows that while a huge portion of the population, regardless of socio-economic class, participated in gambling, the reality is not that society became debauched sinners as extolled by the church, or that an entire class was doomed to pauperism due to their incessant need to gamble away their salary. Lawrence’s portrayal may accurately describe the feelings of society on a micro level through the struggle with obsession in a single family, but on a society-wide level his portrayal fails to accurately portray gambling as it truly existed in the British post-war era.

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