Analysis of the Plumed Serpent by D H Lawrence

D H Lawrence belongs to the fin de siècle era and is noted for his masterpiece Lady Chatterley’s Lover. D H Lawrence is a novelist who has abandoned Christian motifs and had sought refuge in pagan customs. The plumed serpent is a leitmotif of the Mexican God Quetzalcoatl.

In this novel the protagonist is an Irish Lady named Kate who is a widow. She finds the culture of Mexico to be pathetic, cruel and dismal. The novel begins with Kate visiting a Bull Fight. She become so repulsive about the cruelty entrenched in the bullfight. She is introduced to Don Raimon and General Cipriano, both eminent political figures of Mexico.

As the novel progresses we find Kate becoming more and more fascinated with the culture of Mexico. Lawrence goes into a pagan explanation and deification of God Quetzalcoatl. Quetzalcoatl is a God of the Mexicans who is a fiery serpent. Slowly Kate departs from her Christian faith and embraces pagan Mexican traditions.

Lawrence delves into the culture of Mexico with its impoverished peasants and its rich landed aristocracy. Kate a widow becomes charmed by Don Raimon and General Cipriano. Kate is portrayed as being salacious with a dying passion for men. The violence and yet the charming persona of Mexican men make Kate into cathartic Goddess of sensual pleasures. Kate finally marries general Cipriano. Kate makes Mexico her habitation.

The novel has been read with enthusiasm and one cannot praise the novel too highly as an aesthetic work of art. The novel does not have the rudiments of a story and does not follow a chronological order. The novel uses minimal amount of figures of speech. One is not fascinated by its beauty of language. Lawrence’s fascination for the pagan Mexican God Quetzalcoatl is pathological one and is quite narcissistic with the fetish of pseudo counter-culture. Quetzalcoatl can be identified with Greek pagan Gods the like Bacchus who is a master of orgies and drunkenness. In the novel there are very little references of a political culture. Maybe Lawrence is trying to follow the Nietzsche’s dictum of art: that being the merger of the Dionysian beat and rhythm with the Apollonian harmony and melody.

There is very little evocation of pathos in the novel. The novel has no philosophical roots. The novel is glorification of pagan vices. The novel tries to fuse the culture of Mexico with that of the Western roots and Lawrence has failed miserably at this effort. The novel is too traditional and cannot be categorized as the modern. After reading the Plumed Serpent, I feel disappointed.

Source by Bose Anand

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