Controversy so. They read it in each

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Controversy between Money and Love
as shown in “The Rocking-Horse Winner”
The Rocking-Horse Winner is couched in the symbols of the ancient myths. The mother is poor, unsatisfied fairy princess who yearns for happiness; Paul is the gallant knight on horse-back who rides to her rescue (Junkins 261). The mythical aspect of the story is evident in the style and symbols. In the opening lines, the first seven words have a fable-like quality reminiscent of any number of fairy princess tales, yet the word advantages locates us in the atmosphere of the modern world, so does the word luck (Junkins 261). The reach of the symbolism is overwhelming, in some sense the story is “about” its literal, narrative level: the life of the family that chooses money instead of some more stable value, takes money as it’s nexus of affection. The first fault lay with the mother (Snodgrass 117).

“There was a beautiful woman who started with all the advantages, yet she had
no luck. She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children,
yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them”
(Lawrence 1).
The story continues to tell us of Hester, who is unable to love her children and is obsessed with money. “Only she herself knew that at the center of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody.”(Lawrence 1)
There were many problems in the household, one of which was a lack of love from the mother. As Lawrence wrote “Only she herself and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each other’s eyes” (Lawrence 1). During a conversation, Paul’s mother mentions that luck is, “what causes you to have money. If you’re lucky you have money. That’s why it’s better to be born lucky than rich. If you’re rich you may loose your money. But if you’re lucky you will always get more
Forbes 2
money.”(Lawrence 1). The situation is then made worse by assuming that her misfortunes were caused by her marriage to an unlucky husband. “The father is clearly a failure as a provider and family-head, so much that we are scarcely conscious of his existence. And his failure is aggravated by the high social position the family tries to maintain (Koban 280). Lawrence tells us “the mother had a small income, and the father had a small income, but not nearly enough for the social position which they had to keep up.”(1) Due to their financial position the house began to whisper “There must be more money! There must be more money!” (1)
When Paul learned from his mother that luck equals money, which in turn brings happiness, he believes if he can bring in money, it would make his mother happy, thus bringing love. From there he diverts all his attention to obtaining luck for his mother. The father withdrawal, of course, leaves a gap which encourages Paul in a natural Oedipal urge to replace his father (Snodgrass 118). Paul reacts by stating he is lucking and sets out on a mission to find luck and silence the house from whispering. “He went off by himself, vaguely, in a childish way, seeking for a clue to luck’. He wanted luck, he wanted it, he wanted it. Here we discover Paul’s secret of secrets: a wooden horse that enables him to predict winners of each derby as he places bets on them. “Now!” he would silently command the snorting steed. “Now take me to where there is luck! Now take me!” We would slash the horse on the neck with the little whip. He knew the horse could take him to where there was luck, if only he forced it. So he would mount
Forbes 3
again and start on his furious ride, hoping at last to get there (Isaacs 263). Paul, accepting the unspoken invitation to take his fathers place in fulfilling his mother’s dreams seemed to be fulfilled when, with the help of Bassett, the gardener, he begins to
win money betting on horses (Kaplan 1971) Determined to make his mother happy he gives her five thousand pounds, thinking it would make her happy and the house stop whispering. “Of course, said the boy, “I started it for mother. She said she had no luck, because father is unlucky, so I thought if I was lucky, it might stop whispering.” Lawrence 9). The selfishness of the mother is revealed once again as she is not satisfied with the agreement of receiving money on her birthday for the next five years. She must have it now! “But in the afternoon Uncle Oscar appeared. He said Paul’s mother had had a long interview with the lawyer asking if the whole five thousand could not be advanced at once, as she was in debt (Lawrence 11)
Amon, Frank. “The Rocking Horse Winner.” Short Story Criticism. Ed. Thomas
Votteler et. al. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale, 1990. 200-02.


Snodgrass, W.D. “The Rocking Horse Winner.” Short Story Criticism. Ed. Thomas
Votteler et. al. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale, 1990. 206-07.

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Koban, Charles. “The Rocking Horse Winner.” Short Story Criticism. Ed. Thomas
Votteler et. al. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale, 1990. 206-07.

Categories: Marriage

In or her innermost thoughts and secrets. Every

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, life is centered
around a rigid Puritan society in which one is unable to divulge his
or her innermost thoughts and secrets. Every human being needs the
opportunity to express how he or she truly feels, otherwise the
emotions are bottled up until they become volatile. Unfortunately,
Puritan society did not permit this kind of expression, thus
characters had to seek alternate means to relieve their personal
anguishes and desires. Luckily, at least for the four main characters,
Hawthorne provides such a sanctuary in the form of the mysterious
forest. Hawthorne uses the forest to provide a kind of “shelter” for
members of society in need of a refuge from daily Puritan life.

In the deep, dark portions of the forest, many of the pivotal
characters bring forth hidden thoughts and emotions. The forest track
leads away from the settlement out into the wilderness where all signs
of civilization vanish. This is precisely the escape route from strict
mandates of law and religion, to a refuge where men, as well as women,
can open up and be themselves. It is here that Dimmesdale openly
acknowledges Hester and his undying love for her. It is also here that
Hester can do the same for Dimmesdale. Finally, it is here that the
two of them can openly engage in conversation without being
preoccupied with the constraints that Puritan society places on them.
The forest itself is the very embodiment of freedom. Nobody
watches in the woods to report misbehavior, thus it is here that
people may do as they wish. To independent spirits such as Hester
Prynne’s, the wilderness beckons her: Throw off the shackles of law
and religion. What good have they done you anyway? Look at you, a
young and vibrant woman, grown old before your time. And no wonder,
hemmed in, as you are, on every side by prohibitions. Why, you can
hardly walk without tripping over one commandment or another. Come to
me, and be masterless. (p.186)
Truly, Hester takes advantage of this, when Arthur Dimmesdale
appears. She openly talks with Dimmesdale about subjects which would
never be mentioned in any place other than the forest. “What we
did…” she reminds him, “had a consecration of its own. We felt it
so! We said to each other!” This statement shocks Dimmesdale and he
tells Hester to hush, but he eventually realizes that he is in an
environment where he can openly express his emotions. The thought of
Hester and Dimmesdale having an intimate conversation in the confines
of the society in which they live is incomprehensible. Yet here, in
the forest, they can throw away all reluctance and finally be
themselves under the umbrella of security which exists.
In Puritan society, self reliance is stressed among many other
things. However, self reliance is more than stressed- it is assumed.

It is assumed that you need only yourself, and therefore should have
no emotional necessity for a “shoulder to cry on”. Once again, for
people in the stations of life which Hester and Dimmesdale hold, it
would be unthinkable for them to comfort each other. Yet, in the
forest, these cares are tossed away. “Be thou strong for me,”
Dimmesdale pleads. “Advise me what to do.” (p. 187) This is a cry for
help from Dimmesdale, finally admitting he cannot go through this
ordeal by himself. With this plea comes an interesting sort of
role-reversal. When Dimmesdale asks for help, he is no longer
sustaining the belief that he is above Hester. He is finally admitting
that she is an equal, or even that she is above him. This is possibly
one of the reasons that Puritans won’t accept these emotional
displays- because the society is so socially oriented. Hester,
assuming a new position of power, gives a heartfelt, moving speech.
The eloquence of her words cannot be overemphasized, and a more
powerful statement had yet to be made in the book. Hester’s speech
turns out to bear a remarkable resemblance to one of Dimmesdale’s
sermons. “Begin all anew! … Preach! Write! Act!”(p. 188) The
questions she asks are also like the articulate questions which
Dimmesdale would pose during his sermons. The answer is obvious, yet
upon closer examination they seem to give unexpected results. “Whither
leads yonder forest-track? Backward to the settlement, thou sayest!
Yea; but onward, too! Deeper it goes, and deeper into the
wilderness… until, some few miles hence, the yellow leave will show
no vestige of the white man’s tread.” (p. 187) If one looks at the
title of this chapter, the meaning becomes much clearer. “The
Pastor and His Parishioner” reveals that the roles are now reversed.
Where else could an incongruity such as this occur, but in
an accepting environment? What other platform is there for a man of
high regard in the community to pour his soul to a woman who is
shunned by the public for a grave sin? Nowhere else but in the forest,
could such an event occur.

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Finally, the forest brings out the natural appearance and
natural personality of the people who use it correctly. When Hester
takes off her cap and unloosens her hair, we see a new person. We see
the real Hester, who has been hidden this whole time under a shield of
shame. Her eyes grow radiant and a flush comes to her cheek. We
recognize her as the Hester from Chapter 1. The beautiful, attractive
person who is not afraid to show her hair and not afraid to display
her beauty. The sunlight, which previously shunned Hester, now seeks
her out, and the forest seems to glow. Dimmesdale has also come back
to life, if only for a short time, and he is now hopeful and
energetic. We have not seen this from Dimmesdale for a long time, and
most likely will not see it ever again.
Puritan society can be harsh and crippling to one’s inner self.
Hawthorne created the forest to give the characters a place to
escape and express their true thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. It was
here that thoughts and ideas flowed as endlessly as the babbling
brook, and emotion was as wild as the forest itself. There are no
restraints in the natural world, because it is just that, natural. No
intrusion from people means no disturbance in the natural order, and
therefore serves to bring its inhabitants away from their world, and
into this older one. I believe Michel Eyquem de Montaigne stated it
most emphatically when he said “Let us permit nature to have her way:
she understands her business better than we do”.

Categories: Emotions

By: have become this bold if he

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By: Greg Cober
Greg Cober 10/26/98 English P. 4 Scarlet Letter In Hawthornes, The Scarlet Letter, life evolves around a rigid and harsh Puritan view. In this society people are not free to express themselves as well as they are today. This is very sad because it is a necessity for humans to be able to express their deepest thoughts and desires. Unfortunately the Puritan society did not permit this so people had to find other ways to satisfy their needs. For two of these characters the satisfying of their urges condemn their fate in life. Hester and Dimmesdale, a reverend, have an affair, which costs Hester life, as she knew it. The only place where these two people were free was in the confinements of the forest. As much as freedom and confinement is a paradox it makes perfect sense. You will gain the freedom of expression in the confinement of that expression. The forest was the only place this could be accomplished. The forest was Hester and Dimmesdales sanctuary throughout the novel because they could freely communicate their love, their sin, and their future plans. Being able to confess to someone a sin you have committed is one of the finest feelings. The forest provided that ability to Hester and Dimmesdale. At one point Hester comes right out and brings up the committed sin. What we did had a consecration of its own. We felt it so! (pg. 179) When Dimmesdale first hears this bold statement he is somewhat distraught and tells Hester to Hush! and then he realizes the freedom they have. May God forgive us both! We are notthe worst sinners in the world. (pg. 179) There is no way that Dimmesdale would have become this bold if he were in spectacle of the Puritan society. Once again a warm blanket that the forest lay upon Hester and Dimmesdale. It is apparent that there is a mutual love between Hester and Dimmesdale. Although there are very few quotes which will directly state this fact there are many that will allude to this obvious fact. At one point Hester begs for Dimmesdales forgiveness and he grants it to her. I dont think he grants it to her because of his religious beliefs but because he loves Hester. I also dont believe that Hester would be so worried about Dimmesdales forgiveness if she did not love him. Though shalt forgive me! Though shalt forgive Will though yet forgive me? (Hester) I freely forgive thee. (Dimmesdale) (pg. 179) This is evidently love. Of course there is no possible way that these young people could confess their love in public, they will barely allude to it in private. It is quite clear that the two lovers can express their future plans in the confinement of the forest. The ultimate plan is for the two characters to up and leave the town of Boston. Let us not look back. The past is gone! Wherefore should we linger upon it now! (pg. 185) This is a clear example of how free the two are to talk about their future plans to leave. In no other section of Boston would either of the two dared to speak about such a thing. She had not known the weight, until she felt the freedom. (pg. 185) Concise statement which states quite clearly that just talking about their future plans made them feel many times more free than before, a luxury only available in the forest. The forest was Hester and Dimmesdales sanctuary throughout the novel because they could freely communicate their love, their sin, and their future plans. If these characters did not have the forest the outcome of the story would have been completely different and the entire plot would be deviant from the intended. Isnt it weird that something as wild as the forest can, through confinements of society, become a comforting, tranquil shelter?
Bibliography
None neccesary other than the book, The Scarlet Letter
Word Count: 650

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