The Horse Dealer's Daughter

by D. H. Lawrence

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How is "The Horse Dealer's Daughter" a departure from more traditional romantic stories?

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This is a romantic story unlike the traditional romantic tales that a reader might expect to read. This is achieved through the focus Lawrence places on the tension between the "mental consciousness," or man's reason, wisdom and intellect, and the "blood consciousness," which Lawrence saw as being the elemental, natural urgings of human blood, passion and emotions. Lawrence in this tale presents Ferguson in particular as being overwhelmed by his blood consciousness whilst all the time his mental consciousness does everything it can to persuade him to leave Mabel. Consider the following quote, for example, that comes as he realises he is in love with her:

The strange pain of his heart that was broken seemed to consume him. That he should love her? That this was love! That he should be ripped open in this way! Him, a doctor! How they would all jeer if they knew! It was agony to him to think they might know.

Note the use of exclamatory phrases to express shock and also a fair amount of shame. This tale is so different from traditional romantic stories therefore because Ferguson is very aware that his relationship with Mabel represents a downward move for him in terms of society. He recognises with cold-hearted, chilling logic that his friends in his circle would mock him cruelly for his relationship with Mabel. However, his passion and emotions make abandoning her impossible. This tension is something that continues to exist at the end of the story, and the reader is well aware that the relationship they will have in the future will continue to be stained by this conflict, producing unhappiness as Ferguson continues to have both these contradictory urgings battling it out inside of him for supremacy.

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