What figurative language is used in "The Rocking Horse Winner"? (Please give examples.)

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

D. H. Lawrence, who is a poet as well as a storyteller, employs figurative language in "The Rocking-Horse Winner," a haunting story which unexpectedly reads like a fairy-tale.

Lawrence makes use of metaphors and similes. When Paul rocks in his frenzy on his rocking horse, he is described as having "ridden to the end of his mad little journey." (His act of rocking is compared to a journey metaphorically in an unstated comparison.) Later in the narrative, Paul's eyes are described in this metaphor: "...his eyes were blue fire."

In the description of Bassett, Lawrence uses a simile (a stated comparison using "like" or "as") in describing the young gardener who provides Paul with his knowledge about the race horses: "Bassett was serious as a church."
Another simile describes the "violent hushed motion" of Paul's riding his rocking horse. As the mother listens outside his room, "[S]he felt that she knew the noise....And on and on it went like a madness."

In another description of Paul, Lawrence writes that the boy gazes at his uncle from "big, hot, blue eyes," a phrase that contains figurative language since eyes do not really become "hot."

Personification of the house is prevalent throughout the story as the house is frequently described as having "voices"; these voices at times "simply trilled and screamed in a sort of ecstasy."

Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Personification is vital in D.H. Lawrence's, "The Rocking-Horse Winner."

The refrain that furthers the plot, emphasizes the conflict, and adds unity to the work involves personification.  The refrain,--"There must be more money!  There must be more money!"--comes

"...whispering from the springs of the still-swaying rocking horse, and even the horse, bending his wooden, champing head, heard it.  The big doll, sitting so pink and smirking in her new pram, could hear it quite plainly, and seemed to be smirking all the more self-consciously because of it.  The foolish puppy, too, that took the place of the teddy bear, he was looking so extraordinarily foolish for no other reason but that he heard the secret whisper all over the house:  "There must be more money."

The horse, the doll, and the puppy are all personified, here, as is the refrain itself, which comes "whispering."

In case you need more than one form of figurative language, you can find metaphor in the opening paragraph:

"She married for love, and the love turned to dust." 

Read the study guide:
The Rocking-Horse Winner

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