Anna Lensky: Character Analysis in The Rainbow

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      Anna's Origin. Anna is the daughter of Lydia Lensky by her Polish husband, and she is transplanted in the Brangwen family at the Marsh when her mother re-marries Tom Brangwen. Her step-father loved her and made much of her. Anna also loved and adored Tom and regarded him as the ideal man, and all her ideas were based upon the life at home, peaceful comfortable and isolated from the world outside. As a child she hated ugliness or intrusion or arrogance. As a child she was rather rowdy and caused much trouble to all those who came in contact with her.

      Her Appearance. When Anna is first introduced to us, she is, "a child with a face like a bud of apple-blossom, glistening fair hair, and very dark eyes." She grew up into a tall, awkward girl, with dark quick eyes and a heavy mass of hair tied back. She was sent to a young ladies school, absorbed in her dream of becoming a lady. She was intelligent enough but not happy in learning. She was not happy at school and her mind constantly moved between pride and diffidence. She is encouraged by her father who stands like a rock between herself and the world. As a child, she is generally active and keeps on lightly flitting about the farm-yard. "She does not appear to be very happy but she is quick, sharp, absorbed full of imagination and changeability."

      Anna at School. At the age of nine, Anna is sent to the Dame’s School at Cossethay. Here she patronizes teachers and displeases them with her indifference and lack of reverence. She was shy and wild and has a curious dislike for ordinary people: "The girl was at once shy and wild. She has a curious contempt for ordinary people, a benevolent superiority. She is very shy and tortured with misery when people do not like her."

      She does not care much for anybody save for her mother, whom she still rather resentfully worships, and her father, whom she not only loves and patronizes, but upon whom she depends. Thus, we are told, "She deeply hated ugliness, intrusion or arrogance. As a child, she was proud and shadowy as a tiger, and as aloof. She could confer favors, but save from her mother and father, she could receive none. She hated people who came too near to her. She mistrusted intimacy."

      Anna at Seveteen. At the age of seventeen she was touchy, spirited and moody, sudden and incaculable. She was tired of the hushed, peaceful atmosphere at home and wanted to go away. But nothing satisfied her. Going to Church on Sundays, reading books and visiting friends-all were tried and found tasteless in the end. She often quarreled with those in authority and believed that she was not as bad as she was made out. She wanted to be royal like Alexandra, Princess of Wales. She even dressed up and behaved like her. Her father was sympathetic to her and allowed her to have her own way. It appeared that she yearned for a relationship that will liberate her from the pettiness of life and help her to a fulfilling merger with the infinite, the unknown.

      Anna's Oedipal Love of her Father. In search of a liberating influence. Anna turns to the Oedipal love of her father that discomforts and exasperates as it gratifies. As Anna grows up, she suffers from a sense of inner boredom and returns to the sanctuary of the home especially to the love of her step-father. We are told earlier also that Tom dissatisfaction with Lydia, particularly during the last months of her pregnancy, diverts his attention to Anna and she too responds to him with great openness. The two of them make a little life together. She goes with him to the market and then to the public house and becomes a known figure in the market.

      Anna and William. Anna is dissatisfied with life and it is in this state of mind that she comes in contact with William Brang wen, her cousin. The attraction between them is mutual and they begin to meet secretly but fearlessly to taste the sweets of their first love. It is "In him, she sought an escape; in him the bounds of her experience were trasgressed. It was a new reserve, a new independence that she found in him."

      Anna’s Married life. In spite of Tom's dislike of William’s relationship with Anna, he gave way and they both were married. For a few days they lived in a state of bliss, forgetful of the world and its business, aware only of their present moment which was their eternity. But as they descended to the solid earth their differences came to the surface and the result was a fierce and prolonged duel between them in which the palm was always won by Anna. William’s total dependence on Anna is unmanly. Anna ceases to respect him because he ceases to represent anything beyond her. The religious values which appear so complete to Will stifle her freedom. Thus, they frequently quarreled, then made up the quarrel, loved each other passionately for sometime, and then quarreled again. Their love lacks spirituality and hence, when physical desire is partly sated, they have no real point of meeting; they are unable to communicate to Anna about the things that matter to them. When Will tries to talk to Anna about his wood-, carving he is lost for words: 'He could not tell her anymore. Why could he not tell her anymore? She felt a pang of disconsolate sadness.' William's real torment came when Anna became pregnant and refused to sleep with him, because life for him was impossible in separation from her; she was his solid rock amid the stormy ocean of the world outside. But Anna at last succeeded in making him submissive to her wishes.

      Anna the Mother. Anna finds her own self-confidence and power over Will through her motherhood, it is perhaps not surprising that she gradually lapses into a 'long trance of complacent childbearing'. The children become the center of her attention and her joy. Will, on the other hand, continues to struggle, against being dominated, against seeing his spirit as subservient. Like Tom he too turns to his daughter for satisfaction.

      Sensuality. Though Anna Loved her husband as the father of her children and gave him whatever physical satisfaction she could provide. But a time came when her husband got tired of his dull domesticity and conventional union with his wife. He stayed out one evening, had an escapade with a girl and returned home with strange fire in his eyes. Anna, noticed the change, understood its meaning and roused herself to meet the new challenge which her husband was offering her. Instead of restraining or admonishing him, she eagerly instigated him to start the game of lustful intercourse in which there was no love, tenderness and moral consideration, but savage animal desire to enjoy the whole mystery of the body and all the natural and unnatural delights which its several parts could yield. With this Will was reborn as a man who could really attend to his social life and this gave the desired freedom to Anna.

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