Unfulfilled Expectations in The Horse Dealer’s Daughter Short Summary

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The horse dealer’s daughter D.

H. Lawrences’s The Horse Dealer’s Daughter is a story of a young woman named Mabel who has recently discovered that her family has lost all of its money. This is a problem because unlike her brothers’ ability to go out in the world and earn back their money, Mabel has nowhere to go. The only options open to her are to become a servant or to live with her sister but those are unacceptable to her since she has been used to a privileged life and has run the household since her mother’s death.

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These feelings of hopelessness make Mabel long for her deceased mother and she is prompted to go and visit her at the cemetery.While at the cemetery, Mabel feels a strange connection to her dead mother and no longer feels the physical constraints which are now keeping them apart. Mabel reacts by walking into the lake in an attempt to drown herself and perhaps get closer to her mother as she grieves for her. Before doing so, she is described as being: “mindless and persistent, she seemed in a sort of ecstasy to be coming nearer to her fulfillment, her glorification, approaching her dead mother, who was glorified.

”[1] Walking into the pond symbolizes a new beginning for Mabel since in her attempt to drown herself, she is met by Mr. Ferguson who is a doctor and who happens to be at the lake at the same time that Mabel is trying to drown herself. The pond is described as dead and cold. This symbolizes the romantic feelings that Dr.

Ferguson has for life before he met Mabel. Both of their lives were dead and cold emotionally. Before that day. Dr.

Ferguson’s life was based upon staying too close to the edge in life and that his fear of getting hurt, or drowning, dictated his actions, leaving him a very docile man. When he falls into the lake to save Mabel, he is leaving his safe world behind him.  When he went into the lake, he found Mabel and in that way, found love. He found love in an unlikely place which symbolizes the start of their new life together.

The pond also symbolizes a sort of baptism as their life represents a new rebirth, a separation from their dreary life before they met each other. Her troubles are washed away as well and the pond can represent a cleanness and purity of spirit that was lacking in both of their lives before they met.When Mabel changes her clothes at the end of the story, she is starting a new life as well. The new clothes, because the old clothes were wet and dirty from the jump into the pond and needed to be changed, represent a fresh new experience and outlook on life as she steps into a new chapter of her life.

However, this new found outlook on life does not last for long for either of them, especially Mabel when one day, Dr. Ferguson realizes that he no longer loves Mabel and that he had been forcing himself to have those feelings of love from the start and therefore, he would be unable to prolong this acting much longer. Mabel, looking into the face of Dr. Ferguson comes to the conclusion that he does not love her.

“I’m so awful, I’m so awful. You cant want to love me. I’m terrible.”[2] She is giving the doctor the opportunity an exit strategy without feeling guilty for hurting her but the indication from the book is that Dr.

Lawrence does not completely disagree with her but feels that it would be dishonorable to take  advantage of the situation and leave her for good. The doctor stays because he feels an obligation towards her. He had never felt one iota of love for Mabel and has never looked at her twice. He is filled with a perverse love; a type of pity as one would pity a wounded animal.

Dr. Ferguson has a love/hate or rather pity/hate relationship because he hates Mabel for putting him in this situation of emotional confusion and limbo. He is unable to process these multitudes of feelings that have rushed over him and he is unable to properly separate them in order to make a rash and binding decision regarding his true intentions with Mabel.Symbolism within The Horse Dealer’s Daughter is helpful in its ability to help fill in the missing blanks within the story.

And in this story, it is the pond which is the central theme. The pond and its description as being dark and cold is exactly how the lives of both Dr. Ferguson and Mabel could be described and that with their reemergence, as in a baptism, a new life is to be expected. Except this love story does not have an ideal ending.

The two lovers were drawn to each other through strange circumstances but both are being sucked into a life of mutual doom and of ultimately, unfulfilled expectations.                WORKS CITED Lawrence, D.H. The Horse Dealer’s Daughter and other Stories.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999. This book was useful in providing the actual text of the story in order to obtain actual quotes from the book. The book also served to highlight other stores by Lawrence in order to give the reader a more accurate feel for the writing styles of Lawrence in order to better understand the way in which he wrote.  McAuliffe, Jerry.

The Use of Symbolism. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2001 Lawrence’s use of symbolism in reference to the lake was a useful to describe the feelings of hopelessness between the central characters. In order to achieve this understanding, one must first be presented with a broader context to a writer’s use, specifically, Lawrence’s use of symbolism. This book provided this information and it was found to be very helpful.

Johnson, Terry. D.H. Lawrence.

New York: Barnes and Noble. 1999. This book was not only a biography on the life of D.H.

Lawrence but also on his writing motivations and inspirations. I had not known a great deal about Lawrence before and needed some information on the man himself in order to connect the writer of the story and with Lawrence himself so that I may make any necessary connections between the two.        [1]Johnson, Terry. D.

H. Lawrence. New York: Barnes and Noble. 1999.

[2] Lawrence, D.H. The Horse Dealer’s Daughter and other Stories. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999

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