St. Mawr | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

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St. Mawr | Symbols


The symbols in "St. Mawr" represent both the struggles in human relationships and the quest for dominion over nature. The animalistic nature of sexuality can make human relationships unstable. The same untamed nature can also make the relationship between humans and the natural world fragile and insecure.

St. Mawr, the Stallion

D.H. Lawrence uses the horse as a central figure in the story representing the tenuous relationship between nature and humans and the shortcomings of human civilization. St. Mawr is beautiful and powerful, yet underneath he is wild and unpredictable. St. Mawr the stallion reacts to the world from his own perspective, and sometimes this hurts the humans near him. The stallion's behavior simply reflects the way nature works, yet people interpret St. Mawr's behavior as destructive and somehow sinister. Some might similarly attribute human reactions to a natural disaster like an earthquake or wildfire that seems to some to target humans purposefully.

St. Mawr the stallion additionally represents the manufactured reality of human civilization and its inherent fallibility. The horse is expected to serve its human masters, yet its wild nature survives. It appears under control, but its behavior reminds people that their relationship with it is unstable.

Angel's Chair and Devil's Chair

Lou, Rico, and others ride horses out into the countryside for sightseeing. Their destination is the Devil's Chair which is a large rock formation with an expansive view. Another rock formation called Angel's Chair is closer but smaller so the view is not as dramatic. The two rock formations represent the human attraction toward evil and destruction. Devil's Chair is higher and provides a better view, so more people visit it. No one ever visits Angel's Chair despite how easy it is to access because it offers less to see. The names of the two rock formations suggest a metaphor of good versus evil. People will make a long journey for a greater personal reward. They want to see a more expansive view regardless of the cost, even that of joining with evil.


Pan is the Greek god represented by a half-man, half-goat figure. His domain of control includes both the wild, natural aspect of the earth and the wild, sexual side of humans. Lou often speaks about Pan throughout "St. Mawr" as she compares men and animals to this Greek god. During one of these conversations, Mrs. Witt asked Lou, "Did you ever see Pan in the man you loved?" Pan represents many of the same concepts as St. Mawr the stallion, encompassing the sexual tension of relationships and the powerful draw of nature. Humans are animals at the core, but the constructions of society suppress this nature. In fact Pan is symbolic of civilization because he is half man and half animal. Human civilization appears to represent refined culture and sophistication but it is always subject to the instability of human nature.

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