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The Rocking-Horse Winner

by D. H. Lawrence

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What is the author's main argument on gender roles in "The Rocking-Horse Winner"?

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In "The Rocking-Horse Winner," D. H. Lawrence explores his characters' dissatisfaction with traditional gender roles. Hester, for instance, is completely dissatisfied with being a wife and a mother. She thought she married for love, but "the love turned to dust," and she has beautiful children, but she really doesn't love them. She feels that they have been "forced upon her."

Yet Hester puts on a good show for the world. She tries to pretend that she loves her children very much, and she makes a point of behaving gently and showing concern. People even remark, "She is such a good mother. She really loves her children." But Hester knows otherwise, and so do the children.

Hester is unhappy with her husband, as well. He has expensive tastes, so Hester always feels like she lacks the money to keep up the appearance of their social class. She wants to be able to work at something like a man does so that she can earn more income and be more satisfied. Yet most everything she tries fails until she gets a job drawing dresses. Still, she is unhappy with her wages.

Hester's son, Paul, is somewhere between childhood and boyhood. He is trying to learn what it means to be a man, but his father isn't much of a role model. He has been brought up by the children's nurse, for the most part. When Paul discovers that he has a knack for choosing horse race winners, he makes a lot of money, with the help of the gardener and his uncle, and gives much of it to his mother. Yet Hester is still never satisfied. Paul eventually becomes ill and dies after winning seventy thousand pounds on a race. We might wonder if Hester is satisfied then.

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