- All Best Essays, Term Papers and Book Report

Hades in Toyland

Essay by   •  June 21, 2011  •  Essay  •  604 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,581 Views

Essay Preview: Hades in Toyland

Report this essay
Page 1 of 3


One can hardly read D. H. Lawrence's story, "The Rocking-Horse Winner," without noticing the fairy tale structure. Just as the house whispers "there must be more money, there must be more money," the story whispers "once upon a time, once upon a time." Lawrence uses this fairy-tale structure to enhance the ironic tone of the story.

The fairy tale structure enhances the irony of the plot. A traditional fairy tale usually has a happy ending: the fair lady starts out poor and oppressed but, then, the handsome prince marries her and they live "happily ever after." In Lawrence's story, the woman "started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. She married for love, but the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet...she could not love them." The mother tries to make money on her own, but she "could not find anything successful." Her son, Paul, seeks luck to please his mother, but he receives absolute knowledge about horse race winners by riding his rocking-horse until he gets to "where there is luck." When he doesn't "get there" and relies on luck, he "mostly [goes] down" which is the same reason the mother calls herself unlucky. The plot reaches its ironic climax when the source of the mother's mysterious income, Paul, dies from overexertion while uttering the name of the next winning horse. This story is clearly a fairy tale in reverse.

The fairy tale structure provides allusions to other stories in our literary culture. The final scene is an allusion to the Greek myth of Sisyphus. Sisyphus was the greedy and shrewd king of Corinth who was doomed forever to roll a heavy stone, the shameless stone, up a hill in Hades that always rolled down again. Paul is doomed to ride his rocking-horse to exhaustion when his mother spends the money he wins at the races faster than he can win it. Just as Sisyphus is condemned for revealing the divine secret of Zeus, Paul is condemned when the divine secret of the rocking-horse is revealed when his mother opens the door and turns on the lights. Paul's eyes and the light are described as blazing. Paul and his mother are both in green: he in his green pajamas, she in her pale green dress. Also, Paul's eyes are described as being "like blue stones," and his mother "sat stonily by his side" These are surely references to Hades, the shameless stone and condemnation in the Sisyphus myth.

The fairy tale structure makes the role of the rocking horse believable. The rocking-horse, of course, is the ultimate symbol of irony. Lawrence turns this innocent toy, which gives the illusion of going somewhere to a child "till [he] can have a real horse," into an oracle of knowledge from the underworld. It is this wooden horse that is Paul's "secret of secrets," his "secret within



Download as:   txt (3.5 Kb)   pdf (61.9 Kb)   docx (9.9 Kb)  
Continue for 2 more pages »
Only available on