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D.H. Lawrence's' "Odour of Chrysanthemums" - review

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Introduction

ENGLISH LITERATURE ODOUR OF CHRYSANTHEMUMS "Language creates a particular atmosphere and raises certain expectations" D.H. Lawrence's' "Odour of Chrysanthemums" is a short story of life and death in the small mining village of Selston, in Nottingham, where life is harsh and sometimes unnecessarily cruel. In the opening paragraph onomatopoeia is used to set the scene of the heavy, oppressive atmosphere that pervades the village and surrounds its inhabitants. "The small, locomotive engine came 'clanking and stumbling' down from Selston. 'The trucks thumped heavily past'. The woman, who stepped back from the train as it thundered by, 'stood insignificantly trapped between the jolting black wagons'. This is symbolic of the way life was for the women of the village; trapped in their mundane lives of drudgery and grime, unable to escape the harsh reality of their lives. The assonance used in the phrase 'trucks thumped heavily past' echoes the sound of the woman's heartbeat as she breathlessly steps aside for the inevitability of what is to come. ...read more.

Middle

The scene being set by Lawrence is one of futility and inevitability. The emotions suggested are of hopelessness and resignation. Elizabeth Bates is portrayed as a sad and bitter woman. The rhetorical repetition of 'bitterly' confirms this description. She even 'laughed bitterly'. The house she lives in is covered in ivy. "A large, bony vine clutched at the house, as if to claw down the tiled roof."The personification of the vine as it 'clutched at the house' and the symbolism suggested in that as the house was being smothered and suffocated by the strangling action of the ivy, so too was the relationship between man and wife living under the roof of this meagre cottage. The alliterative use of 'b' in the sentences "Round the bricked yard grew a few wintry primroses. Beyond, the long garden sloped down to a bush-covered brook course", serve further to arouse the sensory perception of coldness in these barren, featureless surroundings. ...read more.

Conclusion

The child's petulance is further demonstrated by his actions of tearing at the ragged wisps of chrysanthemums and dropping the petals on the path. A symbolic act of defiance or perhaps a gesture of wilfulness directed at his mother echoing the spitefulness in the relationship between his parents. In Elizabeth's pitiful gesture of holding three or four of the wan flowers against her face, perhaps in the vain hope of a vestige of perfume left in the lifeless blooms, she belies her stern manner and resentment in this single gesture of lost youth and femininity. When she places the flowers into her apron-band instead of throwing the fading chrysanthemums aside, a glimmer of hope and beauty in a cheerless world is promised. When mother and son together look across the bay of lines at the passing home of the miners the suggestion of the father coming home to a lit fire and a warm welcome perhaps do not seem so impossible............. English Literature The Odour of Chrysanthemums Jacqui Metcalf 1 Brockenhurst College 11th October 2003 ...read more.

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