Symbolically, the chrysanthemum has several different meanings. In Japan, it represents the perfection of the sun and the realized totality of nature; in China, rest and ease after labor; and in Italy, is closely associated with death and primarily used at funeral services (on-line sources). With such varied symbolic meanings, there is no wonder the chrysanthemum is such a frequent motif in literature. In "Odour of Chrysanthemums,"" D.H. Lawrence uses this flower and its symbolic nature to forebode death throughout the story and to symbolize the events in Elizabeth's relationship to her husband, Walter. .
One can begin by looking directly at the title of the story, "Odour of Chrysanthemums."" "The diction, like the title of this story, imbues a fragrance upon the reader- (Amoia, 1). Rather than imbuing a pleasing fragrance, it suffocates the reader with an odor, a stench the stench of death. The diction suggests something of that foul a nature. Should Lawrence not have been implying death, he might have entitled the story, "Light Scent of Chrysanthemums."" With the title given, it appears that the reader knows more about Walter's whereabouts than his wife. Lawrence uses the flower immediately to foreshadow death in the story.
The flower also seems to be used ironically to point out that nature is dying within the world of this story. Ironically because it is a flower, that is, something associated with the beauty of nature. Unfortunately, within the story nature is no longer beautiful. Through Lawrence's use of imagery, one "can see and feel the drab and dirty mining life- of the world in which this story takes place (Amoia, 1). .
The fields were dreary and forsaken, and in the marshy strip that led to the whimsey, a reedy pit-pond, the fowls had already abandoned their run among the alders, to roost in the tarred fowl-house. The pit-bank loomed up beyond the pond, flames like red sores licking its ashy sides, in the afternoon's stagnant light.