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The Rocking-Horse Winner

The purpose of this research is to show how D.H. Lawrence combines social criticism, psychological realism, and elements of dreaming and fantasy in "The Rocking-Horse Winner." The plan of the research will be to set forth the pattern of ideas in the text and to discuss ways in which the combination of elements develops in the narrative.

The big picture of "The Rocking-Horse Winner" is that, from the standpoint of realism its events lack resemblance to the possible world. That is, no one has ever sat on a rocking horse and caught brain fever that predicted the results of horse races. Nor has the long arm of coincidence ever caught a winning streak of the kind described in "The Rocking-Horse Winner," even if the story's internal probabilities come down to earth by way of Bassett's seasoned handicapping skills. On the other hand, countless children have been so psychologically abused by self- or money-obsessed parents that they have gone beyond the limits of fantasy in order to be loved.

In "The Rocking-Horse Winner," the element of fantasy operates in Paul's real life more or less in the manner of dream logic and becomes the logical foundation of the story. For that reason the story as a whole is symbolic and logical only in its own terms. However, it also touches on the world of ordinary logic and psychology. The dream world becomes manifest as the family's experience, but even as the dream comes true, it operates as an exaggerated illustration of profoundly flawed parental psychology and behavior on one hand and of profoundly flawed social experience on the other. The narrative combines dream logic (complete with nightmare fears and grotesqueries) and an environment of intense and all too real psychological dysfunction. The portrait of the family in general and Paul in particular is one of intense emotional emptiness that is amplified by the boy's death.

According to Freud, the purpose of a dream, even a painful one, is gratif...

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The Rocking-Horse Winner. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:10, July 14, 2020, from