Anton Skrebensky: Character Analysis in The Rainbow

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      Skrebensky’s Appearance. When we first meet Anton Skebensky, it is at the house of Will Brangwen. He is the son of Baron Skrebensky, the one time friend of Lydia who has now married an English lady and settled in England. His description is given as such: "He has very clear greyish eyes, a slender figure and soft brown hair brushed up in the German fashion straight from his brow. His face is irregular, almost ugly, flattish, with a rather thick nose. But his eyes are placid, strangely clear, his brown hair is soft and thick as silk, and he has a slight mustached." He is twenty-one years of age. He is an Engineer in the army, one of the best brains, and has come for a month to England. Ursula thinks him to be wonderful, so distinct, self-possessed and self-supporting she thinks him to be a gentleman, with the nature of a gentleman.

      His Response to Ursula. Skrebensky feels attracted to Ursula from the very beginning and responds to her with the readiness and intensity of youth and becomes her constant companion in all the sports of love, which are all the more exciting because they have to be carried on secretly, away from the eyes of Ursula’s parents. Skrebensky narrates to Ursula, stories about his army life and thus brings before her the world of passion. Ursula feels that her adventure in life is just going to begin.

      Their Play at Kisses. Anton frequently visits the Yew Cottage during his one-month's holiday. Once they go to the shed where, "He kissed her, asserting his will over her, and she kissed him back, asserting her deliberate enjoyment of him. Daring and reckless and dangerous they new it was, then - game, each playing with fire, not with love. A sort of defiance of the whole world possessed both of them.”

      Anton’s Emphasis on Physical Love. It is not long before Skrebensky feels repelled by the sudden change in the girl who becomes cold, hard and self-possessed almost beyond his reach. The purely physical on which Skrebensky lays so much importance is brought out clearly in his second visit to the Marsh Farm. During his visit to the barge with Ursula, Skrebensky, creates a deadness around her, a sterility, as if the world were ashes. Skrebensky can offer nothing but physical love, and of whatsoever importance it might be, it can never give full satisfaction. In fact while returning, Anton is himself contemplative on why he cannot desire the whole of a woman, her body and soul together, and why he wants her just physically. After the wedding feast when they go to the stackyard Anton is again shown as thinking of physical consummation : "If he could but have her, how he would enjoy her! If he could but net her brilliant, cold self-burning body in the soft iron of his own hands, nether, capture her, hold her down, how madly he would enjoy it! It is ultimately Ursula who is triumphant and annihilates her victim i.e. Anton."

      Anton's Departure. Skrebensky leaves the girl and goes his way, serving what he had to serve. To his own intrinsic life he was dead, and he could not rise again from the dead. His soul lay in the tomb. His life lay in the established order of things. He stood for the highest good of the community and his 'highest good' was the material prosperity of the people. He knew that this collective prosperity would not give fulfillment to his individual soul, but he attached no importance to the individual soul apart from the community. As he met the girl on the eve of his departure for South Africa to join the Boer War, his figure suggested only 'a full-blooded neutrality.'

      Skrebensky’s Return. When Skrebensky appeared again at the end of the Boer War, Ursula was taken with his tough energetic body and the aura of African darkness of which he talked to her. She could only feel the dark, heavy fixity of his animal desire. His body attracted her and she was willing to explore the mysteries of his body and taste to the full the delight it could offer; "The fight, for the consummation was terrible. It lasted till it was agony to his soul, till he succumbed, till he gave way as if dead, and lay with his face buried, partly in the sand, motionless, as if he would be motionless now forever, hidden away in the dark, buried, only buried, he only wanted to be buried in the goodly darkness, only that, and no more."

      Futility in Their Relationship. Soon she became tired of him and began to repel him. He became desperate, proposed marriage, they were even engaged and their wedding was fixed. But every contact with her was death to him. She fell upon his ideas of the world, of politics and of aristocracy and slashed them mercilessly. She sadly realized that he aroused 'no fruitful fecundity' in her. He seemed added up, finished.

      Final Rejection. It is not long before Ursula tells him that she does not want to get married to him. Skrebensky is shocked and breaks into a fit of sobbings. The whole being of his becomes sterile, he is a spectre, divorced from life. He dreads the darkness of his empty bedroom which reminds him of Ursula. In order to screen himself from this darkness, which weighed on his soul so heavily, he decides to marry soon. Thus, he marries his colonel's daughter and leaves for India without informing Ursula.

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