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Journal Article


Usami Y. Kasumigaoka Review 2008; 14: 29-45.


(Copyright © 2008, Fukuoka Women's University)






D. H. Lawrence published The Prussian Officer and Other Stories in 1914. "The Prussian Officer", the title story of the book, is about the conflict between a captain and his orderly in the army, and is well known for the fact that Edward Garnett, the reader of the publisher, changed the title, which irritated Lawrence. Lawrence's original title, "Honour and Arms", was taken from the aria in Oratorio Samson by Georg Friedrich Handel. This paper examines the reason why the story of a mere soldier who kills his supervisor is named after the story of a proper hero who kills many foes for his people. The aria is sung by Harapha, the giant of Philistines who govern the Israel at that time. In the song, he declares: "Honour and Arms scorn such a Foe, Tho' I cou'd end thee at a Blow". The phrase "Honour and Arms" means the pride of warriors, and hence Harapha says he does not want to battle against a weak enemy. Samson knows, however, Harapha's insistence is based on false pride, because he does not try to fight Samson but only dreams that he would have over-whelmed Samson if the two had met on the battle field. He would not come out from the safe area that the fettered Samson can not reach. The captain in Lawrence's "The Prussian Officer" has a homosexual desire for Schoner, the orderly. He has been repressing his passionate temper for a long time, therefore he cannot control his new feeling for his subordinate and the expression of his desire does not get rid of his cruelty. He bullies his orderly presuming on his superiority of rank in the military, and in that sense, the orderly is in chains which fetter him. At this point, the story of the orderly overlaps with that of Samson. The captain tries to think that it is his orderly who is bad and succeeds in deceiving himself. He stays in the safe area like Harapha. Simultaneously, however, the orderly's aggression is provoked by the captain's sadistic homosexual love. Gradually the orderly's strength has been accumulating at last to the state of burning out. In this meaning, he is like Samson. In addition to the perspective above, there is Lawrence's point of view about heroes to support the opinion regarding the orderly as a hero. In his "Study of Thomas Hardy", Lawrence claims that we should come away from the crowd and produce our own lives. In "Reality of Peace" he hates the "consenting together of a vast host of null ones". And hence for him the person who comes out from the safe-guards which were constructed by the masses is heroic. Not to exercise violence is the essential rule of society, therefore, when a person trespasses the border of this rule, he has to meet danger but can become an independent individual being. This paper explores this process of liberating oneself and reaching a free and independent existence, which is the key to clarifying why the story of a mere orderly is told on the basis of the hero, Samson.


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