Loves Little Indecencies Tickled Pink
Through an omniscient descriptive narrative manner, D.H. Lawrence uses two protagonists to describe the way in which love uses its graces to triumph over its usual nemeses, class, intellect, and gender, to attain and maintain existence in a world that seems to insist on its demise. Neither Mabel nor Dr. Fergusson are quit prepared for the way in which love takes root, both are overwhelmed with their current states in life. Then one day while going through the drudgery of their painful daily routines through reality they encounter one another three times. It is during the third encounter that Lawrence’s use of prose encompasses the characters and begins to establish the stage in which their love will be played out. Lawrence presents the opportunity for love as an unmistakable sensation that has risen past societies impurities, judgments and is defined by its complexity and the consequences of its union. Lawrence displays the evolution of love and shatters the prototypical preconceived construct of true Love and the way it works in real life.
In the day’s preceding the death of Joseph Pervin, his estate began to fall into a state of decline. Times were tough and in death Mr. Pervin left his family with “nothing but debt and threatening”(320 Lawrence). Mabel found herself at a loss, “She had suffered badly during the period of poverty.”(321 Lawrence) In her suffering, through the abandonment, she faced the daunting task of finding salvation through her own decisions,
Mindless and persistent, she endured from day to day. Why should she think? Why should she answer anybody? It was enough that this was the end, and there was no way out. She need not pass any more darkly along the main street of the small town, avoiding every eye…This was the end. (320 Lawrence)
Mabel is on a fast track to hell, after the death of her failed father, with her willingness to succumb to “her own glorification, approaching her dead mother, who was glorified”(320 Lawrence). The sentiment of life itself seem to be moving out of reach for Mabel, this seems to Lawrence to be an appropriate time to have her be stricken down with the justification of love.
Jack Fergusson a rather intelligent, aimless, un-charismatic individual finds himself in the fairly mundane existence he has grown to accepted and embraced. Working under the local doctor Fergusson “was a slave to the country-side”. The author portrays the young man in a torn fashion, as disgusted with the burden of the people themselves, but thrilled by the lives they maintained,
Nothing but work, drudgery, constant hastening from dwelling to dwelling among the collier and the iron-workers. It wore him out, but at the same time he had a craving for it…moving, as it were through the innermost body of their life…into the lives of the rough inarticulate, powerfully emotional men and women… he said he hated the hellish hole. But as a matter of fact it excited him, the contact with the rough.
Furgusson’s mission is to survive from day to day trying to explain himself, to himself. He is an upper class fellow working the trenches of real life, burrowing through the turbulent obstacles of the everyday and honestly enjoying it, but not knowing why, not understanding his love for it all.
The Two characters meet three times throughout the story, each time in a different circumstance. The first meeting is in the home of the Pervin family. Fergusson visits unannounced, but is welcomed by the sullen group of siblings. He takes interest in in Mabel’s case but continues on about his life. Mabel is planning her suicide. Their second encounter presents itself as Fergusson is hurrying through life. He spots Mabel as she is washing her mothers grave,
Their eyes met. And each looked again at once, each feeling, in some way, found out by the other…There remained distinct in his consciousness, like a vision, the memory of her face, lifted from the tombstone in the churchyard, and looking at him with slow, large, portentous eyes.(321 Lawrence)
Lawrence is foreshadowing, bringing into perspective her ominousness over him. Her present’s holds an authority over him, even though she is a lower class woman, with no education. Their engagements excite Jack leaving him invigorated,
There was a heavy power in her eyes which laid hold of his whole being, as if he had drunk some powerful drug. He had been feeling weak and done before. Now the life came back into him, he felt delivered from his own fretted, daily self. (321 Lawrence)
The Third time their paths cross Dr. Fergusson’s “quick eye detected a figure in black passing through the gate of the field, down toward the pond.(322 Lawrence) This meeting dares to confront the doctor with his soul mate, the key to his heart and the connection he needs to bare the burden of his decision to work with the needy.
Fergusson’s decent into the pond begins Lawrence’s explanation of the characters process of falling in love. Initially it is an earthly procedure, the doctor is forced into the depths of “the dead cold pond” where he is faced with his darkest fears, commitment to risking his life for what his heart desires. In pursuing Mabel into the pond and jeopardizing his own life for hers he begins a metamorphosis. Judith Roof states “ Lawrence’s fiction deploys the significant events and detail about the physical environment as ways to work through the conflicts that beset modern humanity.” (327 Roof) Upon saving her life the doctor is forced to bear her, to carry her dead weight back to the house she had run from to die. There he washes her and revives her.
Throughout the experience Fergusson is able to ignore his own deficiencies by focusing on Mabel.
He began to shudder like one sick, and could hardly attend to her. Her eyes remained full on him, he seemed to be going dark in his mind, looking back at her helplessly. The shuddering became quieter in him, his life came back to him, dark and unknowing, but strong again. (323 Lawrence)
Their union seems to have an effect on the poor doctor, an affect he consciously tries to deny throughout the entire story. She intrigues him, in almost every regard, yet not once does he let in that he is more then a doctor to her. Antonio Traficante’s D.H.Lawrence’s Italian Travel Literature and Translations of Giovanni Verga calls this reaction to women “Lawrence’s fear of women, and the desire to escape their influence is due to his wish to escape the M(other).”(148 Traficante) Jack eventually realizes that her will over him is stronger then his own “he had not the power to move out of her presence, until she sent him. It was as if she had the life of his body in her hands and he could not extricate himself. Or perhaps he did not want to.”(324 Lawrence) Barbara Hardy opens her essay “Women in D.H. Lawrence’s works” with “it’s easy to see Lawrence as the enemy. He is hard on women. He creates saints and monsters as he sheds and fails to shed his Oedipal sickness, admitting, denying and readmitting his mother’s stronghold”(133 Hardy) It’s clear here that Mabel is both a sinner and saint. It’s clear that in Fergusson’s case Lawrence’s character is overcoming the fear of commitment and is beginning to embrace a new way. Much like the way Fergusson over coms his fear of the pond, he submerses himself in her “It was horrible to have her there embracing his knees. It was horrible. He revolted from it violently. And yet- and yet-he had not the power to break away.”(325 Lawrence) He calls the love she transcends through her expression a “frightening light of triumph” (325 Lawrence).
Now looking back at the way Lawrence forced love upon his characters, neither poor young Dr. Fergusson nor stubborn Mabel Pervin, were given on option to consent in the act, it just happened naturally. It was the social construct enforced in the time that made Mabel proceed and do what she did, after all “the sense of money had kept her proud, confident.”(320 Lawrence) not who she was but what she belonged to. Whether Fergusson admits it or not, just by the act of saving her from the pond he toke responsibility of her, she belongs to him now. He realizes his love for her the moment she brings him down to her level just like in the pond, but now he is being submersed in her passion and in her love.
Her hands were drawing him down to her. He was afraid, even a little horrified. For he had, really, no intention of loving her. Yet her hands were drawing him toward her...He had no intention of loving her: his will was against his yielding. It was horrible.”(325 Lawrence).
This is Lawrence’s view of the process in which love is created. The doctor’s inability to execute his judgment over the woman, because of the deeply rooted emotional attachment he created by just understanding his surroundings. Fergusson is forced to see Mabel for what she is, and by presenting himself as her rescuer and resurrecting her from the dead he is forced to unite with her, to bond with her.
A description of the entire line of events that leads to the joining of the two main characters in “The Horse-Drealer’s Daughter” puts the emotion of love into perspective. Lawrence conveys the message that love, itself, is in control of its own destiny. Love has a reluctance to give in to the resistance-received form an intellectual snob, and his position in life as a man. Love finds a way past social statuses, and financial instabilities. But the most miraculous effect love has over the characters is it’s ability to transcend death and evoke itself into the lives of these characters, who willingly and unwillingly find themselves caught up in it. A storm of emotion that is going to leave ripples in the lives of the people it affected.
Hardy, Barbara, “Women in D.H Lawrence’s Works” Modern Critical Views D.H.
Lawrence. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House. 1986: 133-46.
Lawrence, D.H, “The Horse-Dealer’s Daughter” Understanding fiction. Ed. Judith
Roof. Boston: Houghton 2005: 316-28. Print.
Roof, Judith, Understanding fiction. Ed. Judith Roof. Boston: Houghton 2005: 316-
Traficante, Antonio , D.H. Lawrence’s Italican Travel Literature and Translations of
Giovanni Verga. 2007. Peter Lang, Print