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Cosmological myths serve the purpose of explaining existence, particularly to less scientifically advanced cultures. These myths, or stories, were created as a way of dealing with the questions regarding the universe which could not be answered concretely. Cosmic myths include creation myths, flood myths, apocalyptic myths, and afterlife myths. Examples of all of these aspects of the cosmological life cycle are present in D.H. Lawrence’s “The Horse-Dealer’s Daughter”.
Creation myths, cosmogonies, explain the beginnings of the universe. The book of Genesis, the Hebrew story of creation, tells of a supreme being who brings light unto the darkness, moves the waters from the land, and gives life (Leeming, 24-25). Mabel, the main character in “The Odor of Chrysanthemums”, finally begins to live her own life after being rescued from dark, murky water by a man who can give her everything she needs (Lawrence, 9-10).
Flood myths help to explain events which cannot be controlled, such as natural disasters. The Hebrew flood myth tells of a man named Noah, who is selected, along with his family, to survive an epic flood. The flood must occur to cleanse the world of its impurities (Leeming, 47-53). The “flood” in Mabel’s own life involves the many things she loses: her mother, her family’s money, her idea of the future. However, these losses allow her to become a stronger person, to move away from merely being a daughter or a sister and become Mabel (Lawrence, 1-15).
Apocalyptic myths tell of the end of the world. The Norse myth “Ragnarok” ends with the Gods dying, and new gods stepping in to take their places (85-88). In “The Horse-Trader’s Daughter”, Mabel loses her mother, her creator. The doctor who saves her from drowning then takes on the important role of having given her renewed life, filling that void for Mabel (Lawrence, 1-15).
Afterlife myths explain what becomes of the soul after the body dies, as humans have a problem accepting the possibility that the soul becomes nothing.
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The Horse-Trader’s Daughter”, D.H. Lawrence, p.1-15.
The World of Myth, David Adams Leeming, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 24-25, 47-53, 85-88, 65-66.