Introduction A novelist, playwright, poet and artist Themes of: love, sex, and cultural decay novels and poetry explore: social ills created by the Industrial Revolution role of sexuality in human relationships. dialectic between man and woman a relentless struggle for possession and dominance
Biography Born David Herbert Richards Lawrence on September 11 ,1885 Eastwood a small mining village near Nottingham. Father worked in the mine, but was charming and attracted a woman of a higher class Father eventually turned to drink the mother fought to get the children good educations Did not want the children to follow in their father’s footsteps
Education, Marriage… Lawrence eventually won a scholarship to Nottingham School, and then Nottingham University 1908 began teaching in London Eloped to Germany with Frieda von Richtofen. Several factors: his books’ being banned, Frieda’s German identity during the time of war Distant relative of German fighter-ace Manfred von Richtofen: aka “The Red Baron” Brought public suspicion Lawrence was accused of being a spy Did not fight in WWI, but was still horrified by it Saw western civilization bent on destruction
Post-War Leaves England Begins traveling the world: Italy Australia Mexico France Eventually settled in Taos, New Mexico 1930 dies in Vence, France
Novels and Controversy Several novels are banned by the censors: The Rainbow Women in Love Lady Chatterley's Lover Charged (but acquitted) with obscenity Explicit sex scenes Using banned four-letter words Inappropriate relations between a working class male and an aristocratic female. Not “fully” published in USA or UK until the 1960s
“Priest of Love” sense of mission to address people’s deepest needs His Letters: e. g. 1913, "I think, do you know, I have inside me a sort of answer to the want of today: to the real, deep want of the English people" (Letters I: 511). “I do write because I want folk - English folk - to alter, and have more sense” (Letters I: 544). “My great religion is a belief in the blood, the flesh, as being wiser than the intellect. We can go wrong in our minds. But what our blood feels and believes and says, is always true. The intellect is only a bit and a bridle.” “The blood also thinks, inside a man, darkly and ponderously. . .”
“The brain is. . . the terminal instrument of the dynamic consciousness. It transmutes what is a certain flux into a certain fixed cypher. . . The mind is the instrument of instruments; it is not a creative reality.” (Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious p.247)
“For the blood is the substance of the soul, and of the deepest consciousness. It is by blood that we are: and it is by the heart and liver that we live and move and have our being, are one and undivided. (Apropos 111)
Western Civilization dissatisfaction with Western civilization Industrialized too intellectual and dehumanized; Promotes a new awareness of self and connection with Nature. Balance between Blood and Mental consciousness; modern – “We always want a ‘conclusion,’ an end.” Primitive –having mythical and symbolic consciousness.
“The Odour of Chrysanthemums” Themes: passion and self-discovery Atypical of Modernist works: Lawrence explores elemental emotions and the human imperfections that keep people from understanding one another. The self-centered and alienating nature of many human relationships; The “otherness “of people: seeing others as they are and letting them be who they are; the reaffirmation of life. Summary: Elizabeth Bates: the wife of a mine worker grows more and more angry when her husband does not return home from work later, viewing his dead body, she reflects on a marriage in which neither knew the other.
Elizabeth: Characterization “Her face was calm and set, her mouth was closed with disillusionment” many of her expressions are bitter (“she laughed bitterly”). Examine the moment when Elizabeth breaks off a few of the chrysanthemums and holds them “against her face” What does this gesture tell us? why does she later disparage the flowers when her daughter notices them in her apron pocket? What do they remind her of? “the first time they ever brought him home drunk, he’d got brown chrysanthemums in his buttonhole”
Elizabeth’s Reaction confronts her husband’s dead body different emotions and responses she displays: she attempts to “get some connection,” then later “shudders” she experiences “fear and shame,” and at the same time, “grief and pity”. Elizabeth is being pulled apart by various feelings, but she has little to say: On the surface, Elizabeth seems harsh and uncaring Worried that she is not acting in the proper way: “strove to weep and behave as her mother-in-law expected. But she could not, she was silenced”. In contrast to her mother-in-law who has plenty to say: “He went peaceful, Lizzie—peaceful as sleep. . . . Ay—he must ha’ made his peace”. cries for her son and talks about how much she loved him. What is Lawrence saying here about marriage, honesty, and respect for differences? How can people best show love for others? to what extent is Elizabeth to blame for the rift between herself and her husband?
Elizabeth’s disconnection with Human Relationships Elizabeth vs. her father Father approaches in a “cheery, hearty fashion,” met with a “brief censure” Elizabeth is disturbed—perhaps rightfully so—that he is marrying so soon after the death of her mother. She didn’t expect her father’s care and help. (2318) Elizabeth vs. her husband She never would go into “Prince of Wales”, although she knew her husband might be there. (2322) relationship to her children and others: jumps to the (wrong) conclusion that her young son, John, is up to no good, and that he is “sulky” and “taciturn” with her. Elizabeth vs. her husband’s co-worker She “wouldn’t think of brothering” Mr. Rigley to look for husband. (2323) Elizabeth vs. Herself: Only ponders her own identity and the failure of her marriage after her husband’s death
Elizabeth’s Isolation/Failure of the Marriage dissatisfied with her marriage. She kept judging her husband’s “indifference” to all but himself as a drunkard since their wedding ceremony. “what a fool I’ve been, what a fool! And this is what I came here for, to this dirty hole, rats and all, for him to slink past his very door.” In life, Elizabeth and her husband never tried to comprehend each other: “what a separate stranger he was to her….Each time he had taken her, they had been two isolated beings, far apart as now” “ she had never seen him, he had never seen her, they had met in the dark….Whereas he was apart all the while, living as she never lived, feeling as she never felt.” “She had denied him what he was-… And this had been her life, and his life.” “She was a mother- but how awful she knew it now to have been a wife.…how awful he must have felt it to be a husband.”
The Failure of the Marriage The children were the only link: did not truly unite them: “they are my business”, as she said. At last, only the children belonged to life, “this dead man had nothing to do with them. He and she were only channels through which life had flowed to issue in the children.“ Finality “She saw this episode of her life closed. They had denied each other in life.”