The Novels of D. H. Lawrence: A Search for Integration

The Novels of D. H. Lawrence: A Search for Integration

The Novels of D. H. Lawrence: A Search for Integration

The Novels of D. H. Lawrence: A Search for Integration

Excerpt

The White Peacock reflects Lawrence's concern with the psychological processes of the self, and the critical problem of the novel results from a lack of fusion between the major themes. The incestuous tie between Lettie and Cyril--and ultimately between all the male and female characters--is not linked to the idea of manhood and the nature of the male relationships proposed. Thus, while the author more than adequately describes the qualities of the possessive woman, he never wholly accounts for the reasons for the passive male's bondage to her and thus blurs the dramatic structure of the novel. This ambiguity of form, which is apparent throughout Lawrence's fiction in his incomplete detachment from his characters, follows from the characters' unwillingness to confront themselves, from their rationalization, rejection, or overresponse to certain facets of experience. Formulated afterward as a theory of consciousness, the distortion of experience includes an assumed identity between the possessive woman, modern society, and Christianity as the agents responsible for the hero's plight. In The White Peacock , the rationalizing process is evident in the discrepancy between the characters' reactions to stimuli and the stated reasons for their reactions. The process is perceivable in the use Lawrence makes of natural background as a symbolic device to relate character, theme, and form--the successful embodiment of theme in the character(s) and/or their relationships.

The aesthetic of withdrawal, the vivid expression of emotion for emotion's sake, and the use of character and background to support a theme all mark The White Peacock as a product of the decadence, a fleur du mal of . . .

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