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The Eyes Motif in the Works of D.H. Lawrence
D.H. Lawrence's short stories The Shadow in the Rose Garden, The Prussian Officer and The White Stocking possess an eyes motif. This motif, along with a variety of other motifs, are used throughout the works of the author and adds depth to the stories.
"The Shadow in the Rose Garden" possesses an eyes motif. The eyes as a "window to the soul" is an ever present reference in this work. First, Lawrence notes the "china-blue eyes" of Mrs. Coates, who is a "delightful, erect old lady." (70) Later, when the young woman sits down on the bench in the garden in front of the white roses and sees the man in front of her, she notices his eyes. Lawrence write: "She looked up, blanched to the lips, and saw his eyes. They were black, and stared without seeing. They were not a man's eyes" (73). The young woman was greatly disturbed by the man whose eyes "stared without seeing." After they began talking, the young woman noticed that his eyes "were the glistening, strange black eyes that she had loved" (74). This deranged man she was talking to reminded her of a man she once loved, who is not her husband because Lawrence makes reference to "his brown eyes" (75). Therefore, Lawrence writes, "Her eyes searched him, and searched him, to see if he would recognize her, if she could discover him. 'You don't know me?' she asked, from the terror of her soul, standing alone" (p.74). These lines incorporate the theme of the eyes as a 'window to the soul.' The young woman tries to reach the disturbed man's soul by searching his eyes.
The eye motif in "The Shadow in the Rose Garden" can also be found in "The Prussian Officer." Many references are made to the eyes of the older Captain and the younger orderly in "Officer." Lawrence describes the character's eyes when he writes,"The eyes of the two men met, those of the younger sullen and dark, doggedly unalterable, those of the elder sneering with restless contempt" (5). This comes after the orderly becomes more aware of his Captain's affections and starts to show off with his girlfriend a little more. Future lines in the story also carry the theme of eyes as a "window to the soul": "The withering smile came into the Captain's eyes .
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The eye motif here represents that dark eyes are contemptible, such as the eyes of the disturbed man in "The Shadow in the Rose Garden," and blue eyes are happy, bright, and delighted, such as the eyes of Mrs. Coates in "Garden."
"The White Stocking" also contains the eye motif. However, in this story, dark eyes represent childlike innocence. "And her [Mrs. Whiston] big, black, childish eyes watched him, fascinated, held in her spell. He seemed to thrust his face and his eyes forward at her, as her rose slowly and came to her. She watched transfixed in terror . . . His eyes were glowing again, fixed on her" (97). In this story, a jealous husband, Mr. Whiston, is beating up his wife because he is jealous of another man, Sam Adams.
Lawrence's uses of the eye motif in "The Rocking-Horse Winner" to give a good description of Paul, the boy who rode the rocking horse to get "lucky," so to speak. When Paul rides his horse, his eyes have "a strange glare in them." When Paul rides his horse and the little girls peer at him and his mother questions it, he only gives a "blue glare from his big, rather close-set eyes." Finally, Lawrence writes," 'Well, I got there!' he announced fiercely, his blue eyes still flaring." These lines all represent the hints of Paul's youthful self-exploration on his horse. Blue eyes in "Winner" represent Paul's determination and flare to get "lucky," as opposed to Mrs. Coates in "The Shadow in the Rose Garden," a delightful, old lady, who does not represent any youthful self-exploration.
However, a line can be traced to blue eyes in "The Prussian Officer" and "Winner." Both Paul and the Captain have blue eyes and they both possess a sexual tension that is suppressed, although Paul is not suppressed for very long. Finally, in "Second Best," the eyes as a "window to the soul" is present when Lawrence writes, "She [Frances] looked in his [Tom] eyes, and for a second was with him." This represents Frances' desire to be with Jimmy, but will settle with Tom, who is second best.
Lawrence's five aforementioned works all contained the eye motif as a "window of the soul" and explored the symbols of blue and dark eyes. With out these motifs Lawrence's short stories would lack the luster that makes the works classic literature.