Style and Technique

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Last Updated on May 12, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 687

Lawrence uses a disarmingly simple style for this tale of marital discord. It is not only appropriate in terms of allowing for a clearheaded examination of the Gee marriage, but it is also a succinct comment on the emotional tepidity with which the couple deal with their situation. The style reflects the lack of emotional commitment. The Gees are sensible, intelligent, and understanding; what they are not is passionate. Only at the end of the story does Mrs. Gee, for a short time, seem to have her feelings fully engaged, when she rejects the idea of being one of the blue birds fawning at the feet of her husband. The two blue-tits (an English breed of finch) may seem too obtrusively symbolic. The intrusion of battling male birds, with the suggestion of sexual competition, is an obvious symbol, made even more obvious by Mrs. Gee remarking on it in her determination to stop any suspicion that she might want to be part of this unhealthy competition for her husband’s attention.

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Lawrence is less heavy-handed in his use of luxuriant flowers to suggest a self-indulgent Eden in which Gee lolls about with his adoring secretary at his feet. He is even defter in the way in which he has Miss Wrexall change into a silk dress of a color similar to that of the wife’s, when she is invited to take tea with the couple. The secretary’s suggestion that her dress is not quite as smart as that worn by Mrs. Gee is a juxtaposed symbol of what the contending women have to offer their lord and master. Mrs. Gee immediately retorts that smart or not, the secretary’s dress was, at least, paid for with hard-earned money, while she has done nothing to deserve her own. Lawrence’s wittiness, which is often overlooked, appears immediately on this exchange, when Mrs. Gee’s question about the tea, “You like it strong?” seems as much a threat as an innocent question as to how the secretary prefers her tea. There is, in fact, a good deal of threatening ambiguity in conversations, particularly in those between the Gees, which suggests that they are a match for each other in cool toughness. There is much left unsaid, which is being implied by these two sophisticated people who well know how to take care of themselves verbally—in ways that anticipate those in which playwright Harold Pinter later saw the middle classes. The Gees use language as a lethal instrument to dominate, irritate, and triumph, however empty a victory may be.

Only for a wry instant does the bird...

(The entire section contains 687 words.)

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