D. H. Lawrence’s The Odour of Chrysanthemums is a short story written in 1909 and published in 1911. The main protagonist is Elizabeth Bates, who is pregnant, along with being the mother of two children. The story is set at late afternoon to night and centers on Mrs. Bates waiting for her husband, a coal miner, to come home. For most of the story, Mrs. Bates is frustrated because she assumes that her husband had gone straight to the pub after work. At the near end of the story, however, she learns that her husband had gotten into an accident in the mine and died.
The main theme of the story is the suddenness of death and how the tribulations of life pale in comparison. Throughout the story, D. H. Lawrence makes heavy use of imagery and symbolism to explore this—most notably with chrysanthemums. The meanings associated with chrysanthemums shift and progress alongside the events of the story.
Chrysanthemums typically symbolize happiness and joy—according to Mrs. Bates, it is the flower that...
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