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Autor: anton 23 June 2011
Words: 1452 | Pages: 6
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 socialisation and conformity by creatively portraying his critiques of particular social expectations. The language, structure and style of Snake depict the increasing distance between humankind and nature, and through this, Lawrence criticises relevant attitudes taught by society. In The North Country, Lawrence reprimands societyÐ²Ð‚â„¢s views regarding industrialisation. The use of symbolism, metaphor and repetition in The North Country illustrate LawrenceÐ²Ð‚â„¢s disapproval of a society that worships technology. The Triumph of the Machine challenges the attitude that machinery should be allowed to take the place of what is natural. The imagery used within Triumph condemns the practice of rejecting nature. The use of techniques such as extended metaphor, pathetic fallacy and symbolism helps to convey LawrenceÐ²Ð‚â„¢s criticisms of various social practices, attitudes and expectations prevalent during the 20th century.
One of the main criticisms prominent in LawrenceÐ²Ð‚â„¢s work is that of humankindÐ²Ð‚â„¢s detachment from nature. This is evident in his poem The Triumph of the Machine, in which Lawrence scrutinises the effects of industrialisation, a movement which was instigated by humankind. The poem states that the world has been controlled by technology Ð²Ð‚Ñšfor one sad centuryÐ²Ð‚Ñœ, referring to the industrial revolution. Lawrence then describes the brainwashing of humankind, symbolised by the man in the poem, who willingly rejects his most inner, natural drives. This action is portrayed through the use of natural imagery. The poem first focuses on the manÐ²Ð‚â„¢s internal connection to nature, through imagery such as Ð²Ð‚Ñšthe lark nests in his heartÐ²Ð‚Ñœ, and through metaphor Ð²Ð‚Ñšlambs frisk among the daisies of his brainÐ²Ð‚Ñœ. The nature within him is depicted as alive and peaceful. This image is then contrasted with a portrayal of natureÐ²Ð‚â„¢s anger- Ð²Ð‚Ñšthe swan will beat the waters in rageÐ²Ð‚Ñœ. The man has rejected nature, and is consequently next described as a Ð²Ð‚Ñšmechanical manÐ²Ð‚Ñœ. The negative transformation within the man may represent the way in which Lawrence views his society. Lawrence also challenges the attitude that machinery can replace what is natural: Ð²Ð‚ÑšMechanical manÐ²Ð‚Â¦will be powerless, for no engine can reach into the marshes and depths of a man.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ By using this imagery and language, Lawrence depicts the changes within humankind that result from the detachment from nature and the negative ramifications that result from this practice.
The rejection of oneÐ²Ð‚â„¢s natural drives and instincts is a practice that was not only tolerated but also encouraged by LawrenceÐ²Ð‚â„¢s society. Within his poetry, Lawrence uses a number of techniques in order to communicate his negative view of this practice. Lawrence frequently alludes to the Freudian theory of the personality. This theory supposes that an individualÐ²Ð‚â„¢s personality is made up of the id, the superego and the ego. The id and superego oppose each other, and the ego acts as a mediator between the two. The term Ð²Ð‚?idÐ²Ð‚â„¢ refers to a layer of consciousness that contains the primitive, natural drives. The term Ð²Ð‚?superegoÐ²Ð‚â„¢ refers to a layer that contains ideas of right and wrong instilled by societyÐ²Ð‚â„¢s codes and standards. The poem Snake criticises the practice of teaching individuals to conform to social and moral standards, and stereotypical gender roles or codes of conduct. Lawrence draws a comparison between the snake and the unconscious forces of the persona through the use of religious symbolism (temptation). The manÐ²Ð‚â„¢s initial instinct to simply admire the snake may symbolise the natural drive of his id. This is suppressed by the Ð²Ð‚Ñšvoices of [his] educationÐ²Ð‚Ñœ, his superego, which convince him to hurt the snake. Lawrence may be suggesting that as a result of this socialisation, the Ð²Ð‚Ñšroot evil of modern Western civilisationÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (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 Ð²Ð‚ÑšAnd flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, / and mused a momentÐ²Ð‚Ñœ. The style then changes quite abruptly when describing the log being thrown: Ð²Ð‚ÑšI picked up a clumsy log / and threw it at the water-trough with a clatterÐ²Ð‚Ñœ. 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 Ð²Ð‚Ñšvoices of [his] educationÐ²Ð‚Ñœ telling him he should hurt the snake. The different styles represent the opposing thoughts and states of mind the man in the poem is experiencing. LawrenceÐ²Ð‚â„¢s use of pathetic fallacy when describing the snake, for example: Ð²Ð‚Ñšseemed to lick his lipsÐ²Ð‚Ñœ establishes a connection between the man and the snake. Also, this use of this device causes the snake to appear almost human, which further establishes that killing or hurting it would be wrong, as killing humans is considered both socially and morally unacceptable. By using such abrupt language to describe the log being thrown, and constructing the snake as almost human, Lawrence may have been positioning the reader to view this action, and the attitude it represents, as unnatural and negative.
Another practice Lawrence appears to criticise in his poetry is that of worshipping technology. In an international context, the term Ð²Ð‚ÑšNorthÐ²Ð‚Ñœ refers to the richer, most industrialised countries. (The World Directory of Environmental Organisations) If Lawrence intended this interpretation, the country portrayed within the poem would therefore represent all industrialised countries. The tight structure, style and perfect rhyming pattern used within The North Country contribute to the depiction of a large amount of people caught in a trance, mesmerised by machinery. The idea of the machine- induced trance is first alluded to through the use of somewhat hypnotic repetition: Ð²Ð‚ÑšThe air is dark with north and with sulphur, / the grass is a darker green, / and people darkly invested with purple move palpable through the sceneÐ²Ð‚Ñœ. Language choice such as Ð²Ð‚Ñšresonant gloomÐ²Ð‚Ñœ and Ð²Ð‚Ñšnorth-imprisonedÐ²Ð‚Ñœ suggest never ending captivity from which the people cannot, or will not awake.
The North Country presents individuals of industrialised countries as one, single, mindless body, under the control of what they themselves created. The imagery within the poem indicates that LawrenceÐ²Ð‚â„¢s main criticism was of humankind allowing itself to become a servant to its own creations. Machinery could not gain power without humans, yet now humans have become subject to what they once controlled. The poem concludes with the suggestion of a force bursting out; however the main focus remains on the image of a land and its people worshipping the machine, which suggests an ignorance to danger only Lawrence can foresee.
The work of D.H. Lawrence, although considered highly contentious, is extremely valuable. Lawrence could not bear to see the world he so loved be taken over by artificiality. The majority of his criticisms derive from his love of nature. His ideas are closely linked to that of psychoanalyst Freud, and focus on the prevalence of the id, which individuals have been taught to reject. Lawrence seems to be suggesting that people should succumb to their natural drives. In the poem Snake, Lawrence criticises the social practice of instilling strict codes of conduct into individuals. He also condemns those who surrender to these social expectations. The Triumph of the Machine illustrates natureÐ²Ð‚â„¢s anger at being replaced by machinery. While acknowledging the power of machinery, Lawrence suggests that it can never fully triumph, as nature alone has the power to penetrate Ð²Ð‚Ñšthe marshes and depths of a manÐ²Ð‚Ñœ. This suggestion criticises the social attitude that machinery can replace nature, and the act of rejecting nature. Lawrence reprimands those who worship technology in The North Country, through depicting a huge, mindless body of people caught in a machine-induced trance. Lawrence also criticises the act of allowing oneself to be dictated by what is artificial: technology. LawrenceÐ²Ð‚â„¢s poetry, though highly contentious, is nevertheless significant decades later, encouraging readers across time to reconsider the way they view the attitudes and practices of their society.