THE FIVE ACT PLAY
The terms of each challenge will be very clearly stated, but the FIRST RULE, which will apply to all the challenges, is that the piece must be written in the week of the challenge. Any older poems that are entered in the contest will not be eligible for an award.
This is the final week of the challenge, and we find inspiration from a short story written by one of the most intrepid modern authors of the 20th Century.
D.H. Lawrence's writing earned him many enemies and he endured official persecution, censorship, and misrepresentation of his creative work throughout the second half of his life, much of which he spent in a voluntary exile he called his "savage pilgrimage." At the time of his death, his public reputation was that of a pornographer who had wasted his considerable talents. E. M. Forster, in an obituary notice, challenged this widely held view, describing him as, "The greatest imaginative novelist of our generation."
In the short story, “The White Stocking”, Lawrence explores the shortfalls of monogamous relationships, the emotion of jealousy and sensuality. The Whitsons are newlyweds, married about two years and Mrs. Whitson is described as “a pretty little thing” whose “careless abandon made his spirit glow”. Ted Whitson is very much in love with this young, beautiful and vivacious wife of his. He loves everything she does and she obviously makes him happy. Mrs. Whitson, on the other hand is harbouring a secret, that when discovered will unleash a regretful action and a painful consequence.
"The third envelope contained another white packet— apparently a cotton handkerchief neatly folded. She shook it out. It was a long white stocking, but there was a little weight in the toe. Quickly, she thrust down her arm, wriggling her fingers into the toe of the stocking, and brought out a small box. She peeped inside the box, then hastily opened a door on her left hand, and went into the little, cold sitting-room. She had her lower lip caught earnestly between her teeth.
With a little flash of triumph, she lifted a pair of pearl ear-rings from the small box, and she went to the mirror. There, earnestly, she began to hook them through her ears, looking at herself sideways in the glass. Curiously concentrated and intent she seemed as she fingered the lobes of her ears, her head bent on one side.
Then the pearl ear-rings dangled under her rosy, small ears. She shook her head sharply, to see the swing of the drops. They went chill against her neck, in little, sharp touches. Then she stood still to look at herself, bridling her head in the dignified fashion. Then she simpered at herself. Catching her own eye, she could not help winking at herself and laughing.
If you are unfamiliar with the story, you can read it here:
Choose as your subject an object, which becomes infused with emotional significance – a love token, secret treasure, memento of a past relationship – and explore how the symbolic value of this keepsake may lead to elation or despair.
Alternatively, you may choose to explore the themes of jealousy and sensuality, within or beyond the monogamous relationship.
I would like to state that the badge awards are not given on a first, second, third, runners up basis. They are of equal value, and tokens of my great admiration for the work of POETS, and my deep respect for all who enter their pieces in these challenges.