Romantic Vitalism In D. H. Lawrence's The White Stocking

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D.H. Lawrence was well known, arguably notorious, for advocating the doctrine of romantic vitalism both in his life and in his writings. Originally a scientific term, the Oxford English Dictionary defines romantic vitalism as “The doctrine or theory that the origin and phenomena of life are due to or produced by a vital principle, as distinct from a purely chemical or physical force” (Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 1999, p1603). Lawrence’s championing of the philosophy persisted right up until his death in 1930: indeed, as Daniel Fuchs comments, “The voice of romantic vitalism speaks with intransigent integrity in Lawrence to the last" (Fuchs, 2011, p156). In the early twentieth century, romantic vitalism, as Lawrence conceived of it,…show more content…
Yet, one must acknowledge that ‘The White Stocking’ is a story in which the physical atmosphere and physical objects are invested with a powerful symbolism for characters that convey meanings and resonances that they themselves are not yet aware of, but the process of the story is to show how they gain deeper awareness of these resonances, and their implications for their identities and their relationships with each other. Right from the very outset, it is heavily implied that Mrs Whiston as a character is (in the eyes of her husband, at least) imbued with a powerful sensuousness and an openness to nature and the natural world: They had been married two years. But still, when she had gone out of the room, he felt as if all his light and warmth were taken away, he became aware of the raw, cold morning. So he rose himself, wondering casually what had roused her so early. Usually she lay in bed as late as she could. (Lawrence, 2006, p49) Mrs Whiston has an innate warmth in spite of the coldness of their physical surroundings and of the cold English climate, and it is inferred, in spite of the repression of Christian civilisation that expresses itself through the conventional institution of marriage, as the authorial voice seems to imply. This sensuality and easiness with her body is portrayed as almost descending into a form of sluttish behaviour: in the eyes of her husband, the reader is told that “She looked like an untidy minx, but she was quick and handy

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