The Rainbow: by D. H. Lawrence - Summary and Analysis

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      The Rainbow (1915), a novel by D. H. Lawrence was banned upon publication for its alleged immorality. It is a family chronicle of three generations.

      Tom Brangwen and his forbears had long-held Marsh Farm in Nottingham. His marriage to the Polish widow Lydia Lensky introduced a foreign element into an earthy English farm family. Tom's stepdaughter, Anna, marries Tom's nephew Will Brangwen and has numerous children. Her favorite child Ursula was fortunate as a nineteenth-century girl to receive a college education. She has a stormy love affair with Anton Skrebensky, a Polish officer in the British, army. After his departure, Ursula finds herself pregnant, but Anton has married his commander's daughter. Ursula loses the child but during recovery sees the rainbow in the sky. Anna seeks fulfillment in her children. She lives apart from her husband. Ursula seeks release from her drab surroundings. She has several experiences and develops through various frustrations and agonies. She matriculates and struggles for two years as a school teacher. Her school life, college life, and life as a teacher disgust and anguish her. She is sexually frustrated in her relationship with Anton and homo-sexual relationship with her class mistress. She declines to marry Anton seeking something more lasting than sexual attraction. Ursula becomes deliriously ill, after experiencing a symbolic charge of horses while out walking. She appears to suffer a miscarriage, but recovers finally to contemplate through her window a rainbow, "earth's new architecture symbolically sweeping away 'the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories."

The Rainbow (1915), a novel by D. H. Lawrence
The Rainbow (1915)

Critical Analysis:

      Lawrence examines basic sexual relationships (normal and otherwise). It also traces the social revolution of the past hundred years. Ursula is the principal character, and her yearning for liberation is the theme of the novel. Ursula is the first modern woman who searches for liberation from the bondage of sex and social constraints. She glimpses the rainbow which is earth's promise of a possible readjustment of human values.

      Lawrence's narrative technique is a combination of the traditional method and symbolic technique. He suggests Ursula's disappointments, disgrace and disgust, and an ultimate glimpse of the promise of a new era through images, symbols, rhythms, and psychological reactions.

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