Connotation In The Horse Dealer's Daughter

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D.H Lawrence, the author of “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter”, was married to a German wife during World War 1. He described his years living in England as “Miserable… because his wife was of German origin, and oppressed by disgust at what was happening to his country,” (Bausch 453). Lawrence’s wife making him feel oppressed caused him to write about women in a negative connotation. In “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” Lawrence writes about three brothers and a sister that were left in debt after the passing of their father. The daughter, Mabel, was expected to go live with her married sister. Mabel felt like her brothers were trying to control her life and attempted to drown herself in a pond. Her attempt was unsuccessful because the town 's doctor,…show more content…
For example, Mabel‘s brothers did not want her to be on her own when they moved out. Since they are all in debt, they try to convince her to go live with their married sister (Lawrence 455). This conflict between siblings shows that because she is a woman, she is seen as lesser than her brothers. It is suitable for the men in the family to live on their own and make a living but she needs to be taken care of. Another example occurs when Mabel has an internal conflict with herself when she attempts to drown herself in a lake (Lawrence 460). This internal conflict Mabel faces shows that society has drilled into her that a poor single woman can not make it on her own. Mabel would rather be dead than be pitied and whispered about everywhere she goes. Later in the story, after Dr. Ferguson rescues Mabel from drowning she asks if he loves her. Dr. Ferguson has an internal conflict with himself wondering how he could be falling in love with her. The narrator says “When he rescued her and restored her, he was a doctor, and she was his patient. He had had no single personal thought of her. (Lawrence 462). This quote makes it obvious that Dr. Ferguson saw Mabel as far below him on a social level. She was a poor women and he an esteemed doctor. In his mind she was simply a servant for her three brothers and nothing…show more content…
The setting in “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” continues to convey the theme that women have been oppressed by society. Mabel faces oppression in the small english town where the story takes place. She explains that being a women does not matter as much when a family has money, but when they are poor she has to walk down the streets with her eyes low and avoid eye contact as she buys the cheapest item in every store (Lawrence 458). This shows that when a woman is seen as being represented by someone with power, in this case it is her father, then they are given a little respect. However, when a women is looked at just as herself and not as a rich man’s daughter she is not seen a colleague to men but as an object that is to be pitied. Another example where setting comes into play is the mood created when Mabel tries to kiss Dr. Ferguson after he rescues her. He doesn’t want to kiss her. It takes everything he has just to look at her, but at the same time he can not turn away and escape the look in her eye (Lawrence 463). This creates a sympathetic mood because Dr. Ferguson feels bad for Maybel who has just become poor and attempted to kill herself. The fact that he feels sympathy for her shows that he does not view her as a strong woman that can handle living alone but instead a breakable doll that will fall apart if he stops holding her. Lastly the setting of the pond where Mabel tries to kill herself is described as foul, earthy, and suffocating (Lawrence 460) . This is
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