Origins of D. H Lawrence’s Fanny and Annie Story

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For many people, the title of D. H Lawrence’s short story seems to be inappropriate in relation to the story, as the title seems to infer that the two main characters in the story are Fanny and Annie. However, this is exceptionally misleading, as Annie is not seen at all within the story. Fanny, is the main character in the story, together with her fiance, Harry.

Perhaps, a more suitable title would be “Fanny and Harry” as the story chronicles their relationship. Much of the tale concerns Fanny and her feelings towards her return to Moresby and her impending marriage to Harry.

The first scene is set in the local station where Harry is picking up Annie. The scene is hugely important to the book as it gives the reader certain assumptions about the two main characters, which the reader carries through throughout the story.

Her entrance into the story tells the reader a great deal about her personality. Lawrence uses the colour of red and in particular the image of fire, to describe her fiery nature, ” in the light of the furnace” together with, “The pulse and darkness of the red fire from the furnace towers in the sky” illustrates this point.

Who Are The Main Characters In the Story

However, when Fanny meets Harry, the author uses gloomy colours to describe the scene, “The flames had sunk, there was a shadow.

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” This image is reinforced by the colour of scarf Harry is wearing, “his red-and-black scarf knotted round his neck,” this could suggest the two personalities in the relationship, Harry’s black drabness coupled with Fanny’s fiery nature. We later learn that Fanny was once a “lady’s maid” but had rejected that lifestyle to “come back to marry her first love, a foundry worker.

However, we can see that Fanny is not entirely happy with the scenario she is in, this is best illustrated when she is comparing her arrival with her arrival at Gloucester, her previous dwellings, “Compare this with the arrival at Gloucester, the carriage for her mistress, the dogcart for herself… everybody so polite to her. ” This is followed by quotes such as “She had come home -for good” and more importantly “What a comedown! ” Her relationship with Harry is one she feels committed to by obligation and does not seem to possess a true love for him.

We can derive this from the passage from the opening scene when the sky turned dark when she met him. When she thought about Harry her thoughts were not exactly brimming with compliments, ” He had his attraction even for Fanny” and “she felt he was like a doom to her. ” At this stage the reader feels that the only reason that Fanny does not love him is due to his mannerisms, “His way was common. ” An interesting way to look at Fanny is to see her relationships with both her aunt and Mrs. Goodall, Harry’s mother.

Her Aunt Lizzie seems to be very knowledgeable about Fanny’s situation “The two women sat and talked far into the night. They understood each other. ” Lizzie seems to be against the marriage and believes Fanny is going into it for the wrong reasons, ” You can’t wonder you know, child, if he doesn’t seem so keen, it’s your own fault. ” Fanny’s answer typifies her feelings towards Harry, “Oh aunt, I couldn’t stand him when he was keen. I can do with him a lot better now” The fact that Fanny can just “do with him” shows Fanny’s true feelings towards the relationship.

Lizzy attitude toward her niece’s predicament is displayed after Fanny has gone, ” Poor Aunt Lizzie, she cried woefully over her bright niece when she had gone to bed. ” Fanny’s relationship with her future mother-in-law, Mrs. Goodall is somewhat different, “Between Fanny and Mrs. Goodall, his mother, there was naturally no love lost. ” Lawrence uses Mrs. Goodall as a direct contrast to Fanny, Mrs Goodall has a distinct hate of the upper class, “She fairly hated the sound of correct English. ” This seems like a match made in hell, however we see that Mrs.

Goodall does have a slight liking towards Fanny, “For Mrs. Goodall was impressed by Fanny – a woman of her own match” or perhaps because she had “been left two Hundred Pounds” by her Aunt Kate. This shows the reader how Fanny is perceived by other people. What the reader can deduce from this is that Fanny seems to get on with people despite the fact that she seems to look down on the residents of Moresby. Annie has a more abstract role in the story. Annie has a very small part to play in the story. In fact, we do not see her at all. However, her impact on the story is unmistakable.

Annie comes from a very poor family, “she’s a tanger-‘s” We know her mother, Mrs Nixon is a rather evil woman, as we can see from the description that Harry is relating to Fanny, ” She’d half-kill if they made a mark on the floor. ” This apparently turned Annie into a bit of a wildchild, “Ay, she is alright. But she is always in’ an’ out th’ pubs wi’th th’ fellows. ” Mrs. Nixon berates Harry for causing Annie to get pregnant. She first reveals this in a church. This is very important, as the church has great meaning to the story. The church is the symbol of love in Fanny’s life.

She first went their with her first fianci? Luther, the true love of her life, “her cousin Luther at her side, young, clever” as well as where she had the most admiration for Harry, for he was a soloist in the choir where he had a “certain winsomeness,” the church itself had been vividly depicted by Lawrence, ” and again the little old chapel was a bower,… ” this is all done to build up the moment on the unsuspecting reader. The author does this to make the reader feel the same sense of disbelief about the accusation as the rest of the congregation did, “Fanny, startled like the rest.

At this point the plot changes completely, no more is Harry the man who “was not very marked” and becomes this womaniser who has copulated with a young girl. In one moment, Fanny goes from aggressor to victim and Harry from victim to aggressor. However, in my opinion Fanny knows more about Mrs Nixon and her daughter Annie, for she has seen Mrs Nixon before, ” Fanny stared across the darkness, and saw a woman with a black bonnet” what is interesting as black was the colour used to describe Harry in the first scene. Black symbolises mystery and seediness, which the story turned into after Mrs Nixon’s revelations.

Fanny seems to have accepted Harry’s past after Harry admitted sleeping with her, ” it is no more mine than any other chap’s” and her role as the victim is confirmed when she chooses to stay in Harry’s house after he had admitted it, “I’ll stop with you tonight, mother. ” Calling Mrs. Goodall mother is telling the reader that she is still going to marry Harry, despite his past misdemeanours. Harry’s behaviour is Lawrence’s message to society. The story written in 1921, the year women got the vote, hence, became emancipated. However, in most places, especially in the Industrial Midlands and the North, men still had a very low regard for women.

Harry seems to treat women like sex objects. He is marrying Fanny despite the fact that she had already rejected him once. This means he must realise that fanny does not love him, but he still is going ahead with the wedding. This coupled with the fact that he slept with an underage girl, “That’ll not get you out of it, in court” shows us that he treats women with disdain and gives them little respect. Harry, though does not seem to be bothered with the outcome of his escapades and it seems that the local community seem to believe him rather than Mrs Nixon.

Lawrence is trying to show the public that if a woman had done what Harry had done then she would be labelled a “Whore” or a “strumpet” and would be ex-communicated from the community. However, men represented by Harry seem to get away with this sort of behaviour. The author is also attacking the institution of marriage. Most of the marriages in the book were false. Fanny and Harry’s relationship is also seemingly doomed. In the 1920s women started coming out of failed relationships. However, the culture beforehand was just to “grin and bear it,” which Lawrence is deploring.

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Origins of D. H Lawrence’s Fanny and Annie Story. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Origins of D. H Lawrence’s Fanny and Annie Story
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