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In "The Horse Dealer's Daughter," what role does animal imagery in the story and the...

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joiner | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted April 20, 2012 at 4:03 PM via web

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In "The Horse Dealer's Daughter," what role does animal imagery in the story and the title play in commenting on the romance in the story?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 20, 2012 at 7:01 AM (Answer #1)

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The animal imagery relates to Mabel in this short story. She emerges from the "animal pride" of the Pervin family and she is described as she lies naked on the floor as if she were an animal from Ferguson's perspective:

He looked down at the tangled wet hair, the wild, bare, animal shoulders.

The use of such animal imagery serves two purposes in this story. Firstly, it highlights the humble origins of Mabel which stand in complete contrast to the background and present social situation of Ferguson. Secondly, they serve to highlight the kind of elemental, animal passion that seize both Mabel and Ferguson as they find themselves overcome by their love and passion for each other. This is particularly the case with Ferguson, whose mind comes up with a number of reasons not to pursue this relationship with Mabel, but whose body and passion forces him to continue being with her. Lawrence presents these two characters fundamentally as animals; driven by their passions, emotions and urges rather than the cool, objective voice of reason. The title of this short story therefore helps focus the reader's attention on these two themes. As befitting her status as "the horse dealer's daughter," Mabel herself is presented as being subject to animal urges and also of coming from a lower class than Ferguson. These are two aspects that Lawrence skillfully weaves into the theme of this short story.

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