Comparing Death in D.H. Lawrence’s The Horse Dealer’s Daughter and Katherine Mansfield’s The Garden

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Comparing Death in D.H. Lawrence’s The Horse Dealer’s Daughter and Katherine Mansfield’s The Garden Party

Controlling the movements of the short stories, death is a regnant theme in D.H. Lawrence’s “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” and Katherine Mansfield’s “The Garden Party.” Death brings forth consciousness and it excites the need for an epiphany within the protagonists. To a lesser extent, death creates tremors in the worlds of the antagonists. Death furthermore makes the indifferences of the secondary characters more pronounced. Affecting the lives of the protagonists, the antagonists, and the secondary characters of these two short stories, death plays an integral role in the themes of these works.

Lawrence’s “The
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Furthermore, she feels secure and invisible amongst the graves. Death does not scare Mabel; instead, it comforts her. Attending to her mother’s grave, Mabel feels “immediate contact with the world of her mother” which, to her, is far more real than her life in the world of the living (2335). Rescued from the pond by Dr. Ferguson, Mabel does not feel that her suicide attempt was foolish: “It was the right thing to do. I knew best, then” (2338). Nevertheless, the immersion in the frigid waters cleansed Mabel’s soul, and she begins to feel a desperate need to be loved. Mabel asks her rescuer bluntly: “Do you love me, then?” (2338). Mabel wavers in her spiritual recovery: her “humble eyes of transfiguration, triumphant in first possession” (2338) quickly turn into a “look of death” when Ferguson hesitates to profess his love for her (2339). In the end, when the doctor smiles at her, Mabel’s eyes well up with tears, “like some slow fountain” (2339) – like the fountain of life. Mabel, through her brush with death, is granted a renewal of life.

Empathetic but naïve, Laura in Mansfield’s “The Garden Party” is not spiritually dead like Mabel, but she reaches a new level of understanding about life through the death of Scott the carter. Laura’s love of life, her appreciation for nature, and her
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