ERIC Number: ED414592
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997
Reference Count: N/A
Some Men's Daughters: Teaching D. H. Lawrence's "The Horse Dealer's Daughter."
Mallett, Sandra-Lynne J.
"The Horse Dealer's Daughter" is usually taught as being about love's redeeming power. Usual interpretations of this story, however, ignore its title. It is also about a woman who discovers and uses her sexual power. To begin discussion, students are asked how many have ridden a horse and whether they have ever bought or sold a horse at auction. Then Mabel's predicament is discussed--her father has just died, and her options are to babysit for her sister or to find a husband. Using the technique of an imaginary flight over the story's landscape, students can enter into Mabel's mind. She picks out an eligible doctor, Fergusson, and exerts all her forces to marry him. Will they live happily-ever-after? Both people in this romance are needy--the doctor sees Mabel wade into a dank pond and rushes to save her. Although Fergusson is almost lost along with the unconscious Mabel, a transformation takes place where he is "merely and entirely male" and she is "merely and entirely female." Questions remain for class discussion: the animal imagery used to describe Mabel and her brothers; the symbolism of the dunking--a return to the womb for Mabel, a baptism for Fergusson; Lawrence's use of a shift in point of view--omniscient in the beginning, then from Mabel's point of view (the seller), and from the first eye contact, from Fergusson's point of view (the purchaser). A feminist appraisal would be in order for the students, and a comparison of Mabel with other pre-liberation women in literature who needed to get a husband might also clarify the meaning. (NKA)
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Practitioners; Teachers
Authoring Institution: N/A