Character of Hester in Lawrences The Rocking Horse Winner

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Character of Hester in Lawrence's The RockingHorse Winner

Hester is one of the main characters in D.H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner.” The story describes a young boy, Paul, who tries to win his “mother’s love by seeking the luck” (Kaplan 1971), which she believes she does not possess. Lawrence “condemns the modern notion that happiness and luck come from the outside, rather than from within; that happiness must take the form of money and goods rather than the erotic, parental, and filial love” (Kaplan 1972). The story is an “ironic and materialistic tragedy” (2). Many characteristics of Hester are revealed as she begins to realize that her luck, which she believes she does not have, starts to come back all because of her son’s special talent he has with a rocking horse. To Hester, the special things that her son gives her are just not enough. Her greed, selfishness, and dominance over others emphasize her overpowering character. Throughout the story, the mother’s greed becomes more and more overpowering. The son, Paul, is very determined to find luck for his mother, but the mother’s greediness keeps nagging on Paul. Hester, the mother, tells her son that she is not lucky, and it is “better to have luck than money because luck brings money” (Kaplan 1971). To Hester, money is the most important thing in the world for her. Even though Hester knows she does not need the money, there is something in the house that entices her to think “there must be more money, there must be more money” (852). This incantation reveals the mother’s greed that emphasizes her character. This house becomes “haunted” (852) by the mother’s unspoken thoughts. Her thoughts are mostly about whether she really loved her son unconditionall...

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.... Paul talks to his uncle and tells him that he does not want his mother to know that her demands are insatiable.

All of these characteristics help the reader to develop a better understanding of Hester’s character. The story is a “brilliant study in the sustained use of symbolism to suggest with bold economy the death-dealing consequences of the substitution of money for love” (Kaplan 1973). Hester’s greed, selfishness, and dominance over others has brought an understanding of her rudeness and self-pity towards others including her son.


Kaplan, Carola M. “The Rocking-Horse Winner.” Masterplots II: Short Story Series. Ed. Frank N. Magill. Pasadena: Salem Press, 1986. 1971-1973.

Kalasky, Drew, ed. Short Story Criticism. New York: Gale, 1995. 253-259.

“Lawrence, D.H.” Discovering Authors. Vers. 2.0. CD-ROM. Detroit: Gale, 1996.
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