The Horse Dealer's Daughter Questions and Answers
by D. H. Lawrence

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What does the story "The Horse Dealer's Daughter" say about the nature of love? What does it insinuate about the relationship between men and women?

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Octavia Cordell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Lawrence's story raises some interesting questions about love and gender relations.

First, Mabel's strength of character stands in contrast to her brothers, although, as men, the brothers are better able to find situations after the collapse of the family horse trading business. Mabel's agency is limited primarily to running the house and to her own internal life, which she carefully regulates. Her silence and impassiveness are products of this sort of emotional discipline, which the men in the story seem to lack.

This discipline comes at a cost for Mabel, however, who resolves to commit suicide rather than ask others for help. The "love" between Mabel and Jack that develops after Jack saves her from drowning is the result of Mabel finally revealing the desperation and fear of loneliness that has haunted her since the death of her mother. Her vulnerability causes Jack to realize,...

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The love that is between Mabel and Jack Ferguson is symbolic. The nature of love described by Lawrence exhibits Mabel's life as cold,void, and depressed. Comfort was found  in tending the grave of her mother.  Mabel was emotionally dead.   Jack Ferguson lived a routine in life.  Jack was spiritually dead.  When Jack saved Mabel from drowning, they both realize the need for each other.  Love is connected to their lonliness.  The pond for instance, is like a baptism and the washing away of the old and the beginning of a new life. With the flames from the fire brings light and warmth.  It is the same with love. Lawrence shows us how dreary,cold and empty life can be without love versus the warmth,comfort, and fullness love can bring.