St. Mawr | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

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St. Mawr | Quotes


In his animal consciousness lived a dangerous, half-revealed resentment, a diffused sense of hostility.

The narrator

This description of St. Mawr reveals that he has a deeper consciousness with human emotions as the underlying cause of his actions. Lou observes him as an animal but considers how humans have an animal side as well. To Lou the horse seems to act with vindictiveness because she believes he had these human emotions.


St. Mawr drew his hot breaths in another world from Rico's, from our world.

The narrator

Lou observes the stark differences between the lives of humans and animals. Humans live in their devised civilization and animals live in the natural world. To Lou, St. Mawr lives his existence in the animal world that is separated from the human world.


She wanted to come unwound. She wanted to escape this battle of wills.

The narrator

Lou sees the tension between Rico and her mother as manufactured by human society. In contrast the stallion St. Mawr emits an earthly vitality that Lou yearns to find. This realization begins Lou's journey toward fulfillment away from the fabricated existence in society.


But in whose eyes caution and hate were playing against one another.

The narrator

The narrator describes Lou's thoughts as Rico criticises Phoenix for his behavior and Phoenix asserts that Rico has no authority over him. The resentment and hostility that Lou observed in St. Mawr the stallion is present in Phoenix. Phoenix has anger and hatred deep down caused by society's views about his race and class. Phoenix can accept criticism from someone society views more equal to him like a woman. But his anger festers when criticism comes from a man who by nature should be his equal.


And yet their existence made his own existence negative.

The narrator

Like Phoenix, Lewis also has an underlying hatred in his spirit for his lower class status in society. Because a wealthy class exists, Lewis's servant class also exists but at a lower plane by default.


But he is a servant. He is under. A real man should never be under.

Mrs. Witt

Mrs. Witt describes Lewis as a man with whom women like Lou and Mrs. Witt could never be intimate due to his status. Lou and her mother ponder the reality of manhood and what creates the difference between a man and an animal. Lewis is a servant but something in his spirit can never be owned by Mrs. Witt. Conversely, Rico is in the wealthy class but something in his spirit can never be free. For Mrs. Witt status makes the difference.


And he'd never cease to wonder, he'd breathe silence and unseen wonder.


For Lou, the real man would be in touch with his animalistic nature. Lou compares the perfect man to animals who are in sync with the natural world. Lou considers that a man's animalistic nature ensures that the matters of human civilization would not interfere with his spirit.


Because I couldn't see that peculiar hidden Pan in any of them.

Mrs. Witt

Mrs. Witt was a lot like Lou in her younger years. She sought a level of courage in men that allowed them to show their authentic selves to society. Years later Mrs. Witt has grown cynical, long having given up the search. The Greek God Pan is half-man and half-animal, so he has a connection to the wilderness and nature. Mrs. Witt wanted to see that same untamed nature in a man and was always disappointed.


A soft, subtle thing, soft as water, and its motion was soft and imperceptible.

The narrator

Lou ponders the nature of evil as a presence that had snuck up on humans while they lived their lives unaware. An underlying evil beneath the manufactured reality of civilization has become a clear theme by this point of the story. Now the narrator reveals that these feelings can fester and become a pure manifestation of evil as happened in World War I (1914–18). "St. Mawr" was published shortly after this war ended.


Life must destroy life, in the unfolding of creation.

The narrator

D.H. Lawrence's use of the word "creation" implies a religious theme. The narrator suggests that life is a balance over which humans have no control. The theme of balance is prevalent in the philosophical considerations in "St. Mawr".


The wild animal is at every moment intensely self-disciplined.

The narrator

By caricaturing St. Mawr and Rico, the narrator highlights the state of tenseness that exists for both humans and nature. The narrator goes on to explain how this self-protecting tension keeps both animals like St. Mawr and humans like Rico safe. However, men like Rico protect themselves from physical dangers at the expense of living as their true selves.


His spirit knew that the nobility had gone out of men.

The narrator

The narrator describes Lou's reflection about St. Mawr the stallion as Lou attributes human-like thoughts and emotions to the horse. Lou believes St. Mawr is in despair because he was born to serve a noble man and feels his wait to find the right owner was in vain. Sensing this, Lou believed St. Mawr was experiencing grief because he would never have an owner deserving of him.


Hardly anybody in the world really lives, and so hardly anybody really dies.

Mrs. Witt

Pain is the only feeling strong enough to make Mrs. Witt feel alive. Like Lou, Mrs. Witt once longed for a man with the courage to show his animalistic nature without hiding it from the world through societal norms. She knows that her daughter will also be disappointed in this search and doomed to live life as a cynical victim of society.


The world has its own life, the sky has a life of its own.


Lewis has a spirituality beyond the formal church that harkens back to ancient gods which were manifestations of the spirit of nature. To him events reflect part of the intent of the spirit of the natural body associated with them. Lawrence explores these different levels of spirituality as a theme in "St. Mawr."


Now I am where I want to be: with the spirit that wants me.


The story concludes with Lou's escape from society at her ranch in America. She escapes from a loveless marriage, from an artificial society, and from the imbalance within herself. However, this solution feels temporary as foreshadowed by the life of her own mother. She can never escape from herself.

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