What is the significance of chrysanthemums in "Odour of Chrysanthemums"?

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Here as elsewhere, Lawrence uses imagery drawn from the natural world to illustrate a theme. The characters in the story are very much a product of their landscape: the harsh, unforgiving environment of the Nottinghamshire coal-fields. The local mine dominates life in this community. The men who work there toil for long hours in dangerous conditions in return for little money. At any moment the whole mine could come crashing down, killing those who work there. The ever-present danger of death inculcates the villagers with a sense that they have no real control over their lives; that they are entirely at the mercy of the forces of nature. Human beings, no less than chrysanthemums, are part of nature, and as such are subject to decay and death. A heightened sense of mortality pervades the whole community, and chrysanthemums, as a symbol of death, act as a constant reminder of the fragile nature of life in the Nottinghamshire coal-fields. The odor of chrysanthemums is also the odor of death, and both are inescapable.

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In the short story 'Odour of Chrysanthemums' by D H Lawrence, the author gives special significance to these particular flowers. He makes sure to mention them growing outside the cottage, that the mother has one in her waistband, that there is a vase of them in the cold parlour and that the vase of chrysanthemums gets knocked over - and tellingly ,that she is sure to pick them up even she still has the dead body of her husband laid out in the room to deal with. Lawrence does not speak of them in glorious autumnal terms - all garish and bright with sun. He talks of them dying, wet, dripping ,faded and brown - like the love between the woman and her husband. On one plane, they symbolize the death and parody of a loveless marriage.

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Soaring plane image

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