Love is unreasonable. It makes us suffer and leads us to unexpected decisions. Love gives us enough power to fight, making us powerless against our desire to produce an impression on others. Whether we love our parents or our friends, we nevertheless feel the need to prove the relevance of our feelings to others. James Joyce’s Araby and D. H. Lawrence’s The Rocking Horse Winner teach us to be more attentive to what we usually call love.
The two stories shape the two different visions of love: while Joyce’s love borders on arrogance, Lawrence’s feelings border on insanity, both leading to spiritual frustration and physical self-destruction. Love is always surrounded by illusions. In both Araby and The Rocking Horse Winner, love is associated with frustration, which comes as a result of dreams which never come true. “Every morning I lay on the floor in the front parlour watching her door. The blind was pulled down to within an inch of the sash so that I could not be seen.
When she came out on the doorstep my heart leaped” (Joyce). Really, is there anything better than seeing a wonderful girl across the street and dreaming about her beauty? These dreams however, are shaped in ways that do not provide the protagonist with a single chance to make them true. The situation is similar with Lawrence’s boy Paul, who vainly tries to protect his mother from financial problems. “He went off by himself, vaguely, in a childish way, seeking for the clue to ‘luck’.
Absorbed, taking no heed of other people, he went about with a sort of stealth, seeking inwardly for luck. He wanted luck, he wanted it, he wanted it” (Lawrence). In his trying to find consolation in gambling, Paul looks very similar to Joyce’s character. In the bazaar or during a horse race, both position love as the object of trade, and the success of their spiritual strivings depends on their ability to earn or purchase a certain amount of material values. That these materialistic strivings are initially doomed to failure neither Joyce, nor Lawrence can conceal.
They turn these material sensations into an effective literary instrument with the aim to prove and confirm the eternal truth: love cannot be bought; nor can it be sold. The tragic mistake which Joyce’s impersonal character and Lawrence’s boy Paul make on their way to love is replacing the value of true feelings with the value of money. Their failures are not in that they cannot earn or buy enough to satisfy the material needs of others. Their failure is in that they initially agree to play this material game and silently accept the rules set by others.
Their love makes them blind, and they obviously overestimate their strengths, efforts, and abilities to realize their dreams and hidden desires. “Paul’s mother touched the whole five thousand. Then something very curious happened. The voices in the house suddenly went mad, like a chorus of frogs on a spring evening. There were certain new furnishings and Paul had a tutor” (Lawrence). Not the tutor and not the new furnishings, but the inner voice was telling Paul that something was wrong – the voice which Paul consciously refused to hear.
The same unknown voice might have been telling Joyce’s character to keep from making an unnecessary purchase. There, in the middle of the bazaar, the young boy is gradually realizing that love does have its limits – the social and material limits, which society has imposed on him against his will. Joyce and Lawrence are similar in a sense that they re-evaluate simple human feelings through the prism of social complexities. The latter make love impossible and unachievable to those, who do not have financial capital.
Both characters are the victims of their own feelings. Regardless whether these feelings border on arrogance or on material insanity, they inevitably lead to moral or physical self-destruction. Conclusion For years and centuries, love was the source of literary inspiration. In case of Joyce and Lawrence however, love has become the mirror of the major society’s flaws. Limited and decreased to an object of social trade, in both stories love appears as the instrument of one’s spiritual and physical self-destruction.
Both stories position love as the object of gambling, and those who love do not have any other choice, but to accept the rules of this tragic materialistic game. The two stories form the two different pictures of one feeling and teach us a good lesson: when replaced with materialism and combined with arrogance or material insanity, our feelings turn us into the prisoners of our own unbelievably unrealistic desires; and how virtuous these desires may seem, they do not give us a single chance to be loved.