Judging A Book By Its Cover
Caroline Ang '04, English 171, Sages and Satirists, Brown University, 2002
In his book,
However, on some level these presumptions may be necessary to Lawrence's style and organization of his thoughts. Often he seems to follow a pattern of sorts. He opens with a detailed description, usually of nature or specific persons and their interactions with him. Then, he relates a specific image or word phrase that strikes him in a peculiar way. This image or phrase leads him off into a lengthy aside, during which he speculates about the meaning of life, the nature of humanity and other Deep Thoughts. His personal musings resolved by a pithy conclusion or sweeping generalization, he returns to the scene and ends with an image loaded with greater significance.
In this passage from "The Theatre," Lawrence records his observations of the men and women who frequent the theater.
"They are strangely isolated in their own atmosphere, and as if revealed. It is as if their vulnerable being was exposed and they have not the wit to cover it. There is a pathos of physical sensibility and mental inadequacy. Their mind is not sufficiently alert to run with their quick, warm senses.
The men keep together, as if to support each other, the women also are together, in a hard, strong herd. It is as if the power, the hardness, the triumph, even in this Italian village, were with the women in their relentless, vindictive unity.
That which drives men and women together, the indomitable necessity, is like a bondage upon the people. They submit as under compulsion, under constraint. They come together mostly in anger and in violence of destructive passion. There is no comradeship between men and women, none whatsoever, but rather a condition of battle, reserve, hostility." (57)
1. Does Lawrence just see what he wants to see? Is he biased in his reporting of the facts preceding these judgments?
2. Are his judgments warranted? Can we, after considering the scene that he presents, draw the same conclusions as he does?
3. Lawrence does qualify his sweeping statements three times, using "as if...". Does this strengthen his credibility enough for us to accept his opinions?
4. Why does Lawrence fill his prose with so many loaded words? Does his use of language help or hinder his arguments, or do they serve as mainly aesthetic devices?