The Horse Dealer's Daughter by D. H. Lawrence

Start Your Free Trial

Download The Horse Dealer's Daughter Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Horse Dealer’s Daughter,” as is typical of Lawrence’s short fiction, has a strong sense of plot, and because the two characters are of almost equal importance to his antibourgeois theme, he adopts the technique of convergence, alternating his focus from Mabel to Fergusson and causing them to meet three times: at the Pervins’, at the graveyard, and finally at the pond, where the narrative brings them together and forces them for the first time to communicate. Lawrence accentuates the tension and feeling of inevitability by increasing the pace of the story: The first scene is leisurely, with a large cast, and the scenes following center on Mabel or Fergusson, sometimes both, and are briefer and given more to internal than to external description. They give way to the longest but most dramatically intense scene, that taking place at the pond and continuing beside the Pervin hearth.

Lawrence also illustrates here his pioneering attempts to use language, especially by means of metaphor, to communicate passionate inner states. In the beginning, the story is dominated by dimness and numbness: All the Pervins are “sullen”; the brothers’ glances are “glazed” and “callous”; they refer to Mabel as “bull-dog”; her emotions only “darken” her face, and she passes “darkly” through the town and goes “darkly” through the “saddened” fields and the “falling” afternoon to the shadow of the churchyard to her mother’s grave. It continues to fall while Fergusson watches Mabel move “in the hollow of the day” to the pond; as the water closes over her, the afternoon is “dead.”

Lawrence then makes metaphors of hope (with a suggestion of religious passion) dominate the rescue scene....

(The entire section is 429 words.)