Critical Context

Critics have agreed that the novel is flawed as a work of art by Lawrence’s long, didactic passages on the concept of some dark god. Lawrence begins to dramatize the exploration of this subject of the dark god in Richard’s mind, but when Lawrence loses that dramatic focus, the material becomes simple exposition. At times, that exposition is fascinating in its own right for the nontraditional ideas it contains, but it is finally detrimental to the novel’s form. While not quite equal to Lawrence’s masterpieces, such as Sons and Lovers (1913), The Rainbow (1915), and Women in Love (1920), Kangaroo contains scenes and passages that are clearly the work of genius. The characters of Richard and Harriet achieve a fictional life of their own, and their relationship contains the inner dynamics of marriage as uniquely portrayed by Lawrence. Also, some of the most brilliant passages of description that Lawrence wrote are found in the novel. The passages on Cornwall and the indignities of military induction are among them, as are the evocations of the Australian continent and its people. Australians believe that many of these passages are among the best that have been written on the subject of their homeland.