Give a character analysis of the mother in "The Rocking Horse Winner." How does she differ from stepmothers in fairy tales such as Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel? Why had her love for her husband turned to dust? Why is she unlucky?
The story starts off with a very full description of the mother, and it would be worth going through this again to pick out some of the answers you are looking for. We are told that although she started out with "all the advantages", she had "no luck". In particular, we are given key facts about her relationship with her children, who, although are "bonny", she feels no love for:
She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could nto love them. They looked at her coldly, as if they were finding fault with her... when her children were present, she always felt the center of her heart go hard.
So, she appears to be incapable of loving and has a hardness deep within her. It is her sense of frustrated expectations and "the grinding sense of the shortage of money" because style must be kept up that seems to imbue the entire house with the eery phrase:
There must be more money! There must be more money!
This hardness of the mother's combined with her greed causes Paul, in perhaps an attempt to gain her affection, to try to become "lucky" and thereby gain money to please her. However, when he wins and organises for some of the money to be given to her, note how the mother reacts:
As his mother read it [the letter informing her of the money], her face hardened and became more expressionless. Then a cold, determined look came on her mouth.
Note too how this affects the voices in the house:
Then something very curious happened. The voices in the house suddenly went mad, like a chorus of frogs on a spring evening.
It appears than trying to satisy the mother's hunger for money only gives her more of a thirst for it - she is literally consumed by her desire for more money, and how ever much she has it is never enough. The words of her brother at the end of the story clearly state the dangers of this. She has gained a big sum of money but has lost her son in the process. Thus the mother clearly shows the dangers of unbridled greed.
She is similar to the stepmothers in “Cinderella” and “Hansel and Gretel,” in the sense that money is important to her, and she seems to be fairly discontented and bitter with life. However, she is not intentionally malicious, scheming, or conniving as the stepmother. Her desire for money does not lead her to cruelty or even evil plans, just a general feeling of malcontent and victimization.