Rebecca Stokem


In D. H. Lawrence’s novella The Fox, the character March shows an ability to perform both masculine and feminine gender roles. While her performances are somewhat regulated by the other characters, March seems content with the gender-fluid nature of her identity. Her struggles with her identity come from Banford’s and Henry’s needs, which require her to become more masculine or more feminine rather than a balance of the two. While previous scholars have acknowledged March’s interior binary, they have cited her gender expression as ultimately failed masculinity, citing Lawrence’s own opinions on gender as proof. The scholarship on Lawrence cites his history and personal life as a reason for the supposedly strict gender dichotomy in his writing, but does not acknowledge Lawrence’s own words in regards to gender-fluidity. Many scholars claim that March must give up a part of herself to fit the ending of the text. I disagree—on the contrary, March has not given up any part of her identity by the end of the story, and instead strives to maintain her autonomy in her new relationship with Henry. In this paper I argue that March performs both masculine and feminine gender roles, showing that she is not only a gender-fluid character, but also that she is able to adapt her performance when needed in order to maintain her autonomy. By understanding her character as fluid, The Fox portrays a new, undiscussed side of Lawrence’s work, and raises questions about the gendered relationships between people.