D. H. Lawrence’s “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter”: the Suspected Suicide Attempt

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After reading D. H. Lawrence’s story “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” in English class, you said you were quite shocked when Mabel attempted to commit suicide. Reading through the story for the first time it may not be completely clear that Mabel feels there is nothing to do with her life but to die. However, looking through the story again I think there is a lot of evidence to support that idea. By analyzing the dark descriptions of the settings and Mabel’s lack of any relationship with her family, ample evidence and clues are provided that point towards Mabel’s suicidal path.
First, look at the description of the dark setting and atmosphere that gives off the feeling of death and depression. In the beginning of the story we find Mabel and her three brothers sitting at the dining room table “with its heavy mahogany furniture, [which] looked as if it were waiting to be done away with” (Lawrence 1). The heavy furniture represents Mabel and as she is being soaked in the pond water, she is doing away with herself. As we follow Mabel walking outside the weather is described as “a grey, wintery day, with saddened, dark-green fields and an atmosphere blackened by the smoke of foundries not far off” (Lawrence 5). The constant reference to dark, grey, and sad weather and scenery reemphasize the darkness and depression happening inside of Mabel. When Fergusson, the doctor, steps outside he thinks, “The Afternoon was falling. It was grey, deadened, and wintry, with a slow, moist, heavy coldness sinking in and deadening all the faculties” (Lawrence 6). This is a great description of how it feels when he is trying to save Mabel from the pond. Also, as Fergusson watches Mabel make her way to the pond, he describes her as a “figure in black” (L...

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... of peace from things that are dead is a large indicator that Mabel will do anything, attempt suicide, to have peace and happiness in the world of her mother and the dead.
After analyzing the story, a clear path can be followed that alerts and prepares you for Mabel’s attempted suicide. Lawrence cleverly uses setting to help the reader come into the dark, grey, and sad world Mabel sees herself in. Not only does the setting indicate Mabel’s suicidal path but her lack of relationship with her family shows she is not attached to the things of this living world but longs for the dead world of her mothers. Mabel attempted suicide because she saw it as her only way out of this depression state she had fallen into.

Works Cited

Lawrence, D. H. “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter.” Literature.org: The Online Literature Library.
Knowledge Matters Ltd., n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2012.

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