Character Transformations In DH Lawrence\'s "The Blind Man" And "The Horse Dealer\'s Daughter"

In DH Lawrence’s stories “The Blind Man” and “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter,” the reader watches as characters move from having something missing in their lives, to being truly whole.

Lawrence uses images of darkness to illustrate the emotions of his characters. In “The Blind Man,” Isabel goes to look for Maurice and when she steps into the stable where he is, “The darkness seemed to be in a strange swirl of violent life” (Lawrence, 132). The darkness that swirled around Isabel is the darkness in which Maurice lives. The “Horse Dealer’s Daughter,” is also consumed in darkness, as seen in the description of the dwindling town. The description reads like a disaster report on the five o’clock news: “across a shallow dip in the country, the small town was clustered like a smoldering ash, a tower, a spire, a heap of low, raw, extinct houses” (Lawrence, 147). To live in a town such as this, a person would become part of the “smoldering ash,” as Mabel had. When Mabel was with her brothers she “sat on like one condemned,” (Lawrence, 144) as they discussed her fate. She stayed quiet, working in the house because the family could no longer afford the hired help they once had. They could, in fact, no longer afford the horses that once brought them money. As the family breaks apart, with each sibling going his separate way, Mabel finds herself trapped by her emotions.

There is a great tension felt by each of Lawrence’s characters. Mabel, in “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter,” and Maurice, in “The Blind Man,” are excellent examples of this tension. Mabel’s tension seems to remain an internal struggle, while Maurice’s affects his wife greatly. After closer examination, it is apparent that Mabel’s internal struggles become evident as she interacts with her brothers. She works in the kitchen and rarely answers them when they speak to her. She has pushed aside any traits she may have possessed and has become like a hired hand, going about her work, not speaking. Maurice’s struggles are shown through his actions also. When Bertie and Isabel are talking after dinner, Maurice excuses himself. He seems uncomfortable in the situation and consequently retires himself to the darkness of the stable. It is not until Bertie goes out to look for him, that Maurice confronts his emotions.
The characters of Maurice and Mabel move toward wholeness as they confront the emotions they have previously denied. Maurice meets Bertie and, in the moment that he touches Bertie’s face, becomes whole. There is a connection between the two men, and even though the feeling is not mutual, Maurice feels that he has met a great friend. This friendship was the missing element in his life. For Mabel, the missing element was a relationship that allowed her to be herself. After walking into the pond to end her life, she is resurrected by the doctor, who then becomes the center of the relationship she was searching for. Mabel asks for the doctor’s love, and when he agrees to give her that love, she is once again the open caring person she has repressed.

Lawrence believes that “To be alive, to be man alive, to be whole man alive; that is the point” (Lawrence, 123). He shows this through the characters of his stories, especially Mabel in “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” and Maurice in “The Blind Man.” These characters both undergo a transformation, ending with wholeness they did not possess before.

Category: English