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Describe how D H Lawrence depicts the turning point in Elizabeth Bates' life. How successful is he in bringing her experiences to life?

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Introduction

Describe how D H Lawrence depicts the turning point in Elizabeth Bates' life. How successful is he in bringing her experiences to life? I have studied Odour of Chrysanthemums which is a short story written by D H Lawrence. He lived from 1885 to 1930. His father was a coal miner which explains why the story is based in a mining village. The main character is Elizabeth Bates who is a miner's wife and the story evolves around her waiting for her husband's return from work. As usual he is late but on this occasion he died in a mining accident. The main elements of the story are Elizabeth's changing thoughts and emotions throughout the whole experience. In the exposition D H Lawrence uses pathetic fallacy to bring the story to life and to represent the mood of the young woman, "Trapped between the jolting black wagons" and "The fields were dreary and forsaken". By using words like "trapped", "black" as well as "dreary" and "forsaken" D H Lawrence depicts Elizabeth's unhappy experiences so far and her current state of mind. I think that it is a useful device to make the reader empathise from the start with the character and it sets the mood of the story. D H Lawrence's life story maybe indifferent to that of the characters in this story, he was brought up in a working class mining village and maybe he didn't get along with his family or another family didn't get along and suffered similar problems to those in this story. ...read more.

Middle

She lists all the important and unhappiest moments of her life. Since she is carrying the very same flowers at the time, Lawrence has also brought in suspense. This incites the reader to think that something will happen and that it will be another important moment in her life. Lawrence symbolises the turning point in Elizabeth's life when the vase of chrysanthemums breaks. Now that the flowers are on the floor she can leave them behind and forget all the bad moments in her life. The vase could represent her marriage which was in pieces and was also unhappy, she can now start her life anew. The author makes a running commentary of her emotions from the complication - i.e. when Walter doesn't come home - onwards. Lawrence uses suspense to make the reader want to continue reading. "Her anger was tinged with fear," implies that although she is angry for his repetitive lateness she is also concerned for his safety. Mr Rigley begins to stammer when Elizabeth asks him when her husband is coming back home which lets the reader know that he is worried for Walter too. Lawrence uses a build up of irony to give the reader a hint of what would happen and to give her comments a double meaning. When John can't see anything Elizabeth tells him that he is as bad as his father when it was dark which is ironic because Walter is stuck in the bottom of the pit in blackness. ...read more.

Conclusion

"She saw him, how utterly inviolable he lay in himself. She had nothing to do with him". At this point Elizabeth realises that her husband means nothing to her but she can't accept it and tries to feel some emotion towards him again. She "embraced the body of her husband with cheeks and lips. She seemed to be listening, inquiring, trying to get some connection. But she could not. She was driven away. He was impregnable." Here Lawrence uses a succession of short sentences meaning the same thing to reinforce the idea of the finality of his death and of the void between them. Lawrence uses an anticlimax to get the reader's attention and to momentarily bring back the good things about him and then take it away again. "He was blond, full-fleshed, with fine limbs. But he was dead." Elizabeth may feel regret. I think that D H Lawrence depicts the turning points in Elizabeth Bates' life very well. In my opinion, the symbolic use of chrysanthemums is very effective. He uses a lot of descriptive words to bring to life important people and objects. He makes clever use of suspense, irony and adjectives. The way he portrays Elizabeth as a philosophical, deep-thinking person who puts herself in a difficult marriage is very well done. I particularly like his style of writing when he depicts the hidden turmoil of Elizabeth's emotions in parallel with the mother-in-law's expressive mourning. To sum it up, I think that Lawrence has successfully brought Elizabeth's experiences to life. ...read more.

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