Sociological Criticism and “The Rocking-Horse Winner”

Essay by serayah27College, UndergraduateA, April 2014

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Sociological Criticism and "The Rocking-Horse Winner"

Daniel P. Watkins relates "The Rocking-Horse Winner" by D.H. Lawrence, to sociological criticism through his critique of the family's need to show off and of the capitalist society they live in. The family lived in style but always felt anxiety in the house because they didn't make enough money for the social position in which they had to keep up (Lawrence 592). The society, culture, and economy are examined to help interpret the content of literary works (Gioia and Kennedy 2029).

Throughout "The Rocking-Horse Winner," it is apparent that the family's focus is on finances. "There was always the grinding sense of the shortage of money, though the style was always kept up" (Lawrence 593). Watkins analyzes this element of society as being "socially unproductive." For example, "they lived in a pleasant house with a garden, and they had discreet servants, and felt themselves superior to anyone in the neighborhood" (Lawrence 592).

"They set a tone of need in their world that generates intense and pervasive anxiety" (Watkins 2031).

Watkins' essay is often referring to a capitalist society. "For what he is investing, in real terms, is himself, selling his skills to generate wealth that he is not free to posses, but that is necessary to the maintenance of existing social relations" (Watkins 2031). In this kind of society,

Paul has the freedom to do as he wishes with money he makes and luck he encounters. Unfortunately, the society doesn't see the stress this puts on him physically and mentally. "The Derby grew near, and the boy grew more and more tense. He hardly heard what was spoken to him, he was very frail, and his eyes were really uncanny. There must be more money" (Lawrence 600). Watkins...