The Rocking-Horse Winner

A Boy and His Horse: The Oedipal Complex at Work

"[H]e would sit on his big rocking horse, charging madly into space, with a frenzy that made the little girls peer at him uneasily." This passage, from D.H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner," describes the "mad little journey" of Paul as he searches for the luck his mother desires, yet lost since she "married an unlucky husband." As the child, too old to legitimately play on the wooden toy, makes his furious rides on the rocking horse, rides that leave him exhausted and lead to his untimely death, the reader begins to wonder what drives the boy to exert himself so, what powerful force compels him to ride on. An answer can be found in Paul's Oedipal relationship with his mother and the unconscious motivations that are contained therein.

The Oedipal conflict refers to the "triangular relationship between father, mother, and son" in which the son competes with the father for the affection and attention of the mother, wishing to replace the father's role in the mother's life (Bhugra 70). This complicated and unhealthy relationship between parents and offspring flourishes in "The Rocking-Horse Winner." Paul knows that his mother is not happy and would...

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