D.H. Lawrence: Critique of Social Practices (References Snake, the North Country, and the Triumph of the Machine)

1484 Words Apr 30th, 2008 6 Pages
Poetry is often used to make critical comment about particular social attitudes and practices. Through a wide range of techniques, D.H. Lawrence uses his poetry as a tool to scrutinise certain aspects of the early 20th century (1855 -1930). Much of his poetry portrays his opinions regarding modernity and industrialisation. In particular, poems such as Snake, The North Country and The Triumph of the Machine consider the effects these issues have on society. Lawrence uses figurative language, changing structure and style in order to present his ideas within the poem Snake. The poem depicts the internal battle between human instinct and social education, which is relative to Freudian theory. Lawrence establishes a negative view of …show more content…
The man’s initial instinct to simply admire the snake may symbolise the natural drive of his id. This is suppressed by the “voices of [his] education”, his superego, which convince him to hurt the snake. Lawrence may be suggesting that as a result of this socialisation, the “root evil of modern Western civilisation” (Christopher Heywood) individuals develop and become controlled by their superego.

The aforementioned ideas are partially established by the structure and changing styles of the poem Snake, which help to establish this idea of an internal battle between natural drives and social expectations. The stanzas referring to the snake are repetitive and almost lyrical. Traditional devices such as assonance and alliteration are employed in phrases such as “And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, / and mused a moment”. The style then changes quite abruptly when describing the log being thrown: “I picked up a clumsy log / and threw it at the water-trough with a clatter”. The language is starkly opposite to that describing the snake. It is harsher, clumsier and uses consonance rather than assonance. The action itself may represent conforming to social expectations, as the man initially tried to ignore the “voices of [his] education” telling him he should hurt the snake. The different styles represent the opposing thoughts and states of mind the man in the poem is

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