‘Two Blue Birds’ by D.H. Lawrence

Lawrence, D.H. 1927

Two Blue Birds by D.H. Lawrence, 1927

The magic trick:

Analyzing a fractured marriage from the wife’s point of view

Feeling too happy these days? Need a good dose of depression to balance things out? Read “Two Blue Birds.” It’s sure to take you down a notch.

Lawrence gets into the psychology behind a complicated, fractured marriage. He is particularly interested in the wife’s point of view. Inasmuch, it’s an interesting consideration. He is very good at understanding the smallest nuances of relationships between man and woman. Unfortunately, much of it here is dated to the point of being irrelevantly sexist. All of it here is pessimistic and defeatist. One wonders if it isn’t all just satire and sarcasm at a certain point.

Still, if you enjoy breaking down motivations within relationships at a minute level, this is a good story for you. And that’s quite a trick on Lawrence’s part.

The selection:

What was to be done? Matters, instead of improving, had grown worse. The little secretary had brought her mother and sister into the establishment. The mother was a sort of cook-housekeeper, the sister was a sort of upper maid – she did the fine laundry, and looked after ‘his’ clothes, and valeted him beautifully. It was really an excellent arrangement. The old mother was a splendid plain cook, the sister was all that could be desired as a valet de chambre, a fine laundress, an upper parlour-maid, and a table- waiter. And all economical to a degree. They knew his affairs by heart. His secretary flew to town when a creditor became dangerous, and she ALWAYS smoothed over the financial crisis.

‘He’, of course, had debts, and he was working to pay them off. And if he had been a fairy prince who could call the ants to help him, he would not have been more wonderful than in securing this secretary and her family. They took hardly any wages. And they seemed to perform the miracle of loaves and fishes daily.

‘She’, of course, was the wife who loved her husband, but helped him into debt, and she still was an expensive item. Yet when she appeared at her ‘home’, the secretarial family received her with most elaborate attentions and deference. The knight returning from the Crusades didn’t create a greater stir. She felt like Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth, a sovereign paying a visit to her faithful subjects. But perhaps there lurked always this hair in her soup! Won’t they be glad to be rid of me again!

But they protested No! No! They had been waiting and hoping and praying she would come. They had been pining for her to be there, in charge: the mistress, ‘his’ wife. Ah, ‘his’ wife!

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