Written in 1933, D.H. Lawrence's short story "The Rocking Horse Winner" illustrates the consumptive nature of materialism. Through author's use of characterization, symbolism, and language in The Rocking Horse Winner, Lawrence successfully portrays a greedy and cold hearted mother, Hester, who attempts to fulfill the dissatisfaction in her life using wealth and material comfort. Lawrence uses Hester as an example to convey to the readers that materialism isolates one from love and ultimately leads to destruction.
Lawrence uses language that evokes irony and disgust to describe Hester in order to illustrate her coldness and inability to love anybody except herself. "She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them." (407) Lawrence asserts that because Hester is dissatisfied with her life, and refuses to compromise on the lifestyle she expects, she becomes preoccupied with searching for material comfort. However, the "failure made deep lines come into her face" (407), and gradually turns the center of her heart into "a hard little place that could not feel love, not for anybody." (407) Hester describes her husband as an "unlucky husband" (408). Through this expression, it is easy to see that Hester does not love her husband, and blames him for his incapability of making money. Lawrence uses this expression to demonstrate Hester's inability to love, and implies that her dissatisfaction with life is what turns her love to "dust" and causes the failure of her marriage. Through the descriptions of Hester's attitudes towards her husband and children, Lawrence paints a vivid imag...
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...n irony. Even though he rides the rocking horse, a young boy's toy, as Paul starts gambling, gradually he loses his innocence as a child. He becomes like his mother, who uses money to buy love. Lawrence portrays Paul as a victim to imply that the lack of love is the real cause of his death, and to confirm that Hester's materialism is what leads to her family's destruction.
Through the characterization, symbolism, and language of the short story, Lawrence successfully creates a materialistic image. Hester's tragic ending reveals to the readers that the desire of wealth and material possessions with little interest in spiritual matters isolates one from love, creates more dissatisfaction, and destroys one's life eventually.
Lawrence, D. H. The Rocking Horse Winner." The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. R. V. Cassill, ed. New York: W. W.
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