Great Piece of Art Hut not without its Drawbacks: The Rainbow

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      The Rainbow is a unique and original novel. Lawrence in writing this novel was conscious of doing something new. Thus, at the time of writing this novel he wrote to Edward Garnett: "I have no longer the joy in creating vivid scenes, that I had in Sons and Lovers."

"All the time underneath, there is something deep, evolving itself out of me." "You mustn't look in my novel for the old stable ego of character. There is another ego, according to whose action the individual is unrecognizable and passes through, as it were, allotropic states which it needs a deeper sense than any we've been used to exercise to discover—states of same single radically unchanged element."

      Lawrence deliberately planned this work as a specimen of supreme fiction, with a novel technique demanded by his new theme or the novel approach to a universal theme. Sex, love and marriage, a general theme, for the first time has been treated as something serious, sacred and vital to the health and happiness of man and woman. It has been treated by Lawrence with uninhibited frankness which shocked the orthodox sensibility. In fact, not only has sex been treated as a new religion by Lawrence but he transfers most of the religious and technical' terms to sex and sexual union, like, ecstasy, bliss, darkness, fainting and swooning etc.

Novel Narrative Technique.

      The narrative technique used by Lawrence is also a novel one because of the emphasis upon sex on the basis of love, union and marriage. In his narrative technique, he combines narration and explanation. The reader is made aware of all those who then meet, love and engage in sexual intercourse or courtship. The feelings and passions of the characters are directly described by the author himself because the characters are too absorbed in the process or their feelings are too deep for words.

The New Conception of Character.

      Besides being hypersensitive to sexual appeal and to changing phases of love and relationship, the characters are governed by an 'ego' which operates below their stable ego. The second waxing and waning 'ego' which is also fluid and dynamic is conducive to that variability of the character's mind and heart which makes it unpredictable. Thus, sometimes we see the characters passing into a state of frenzy because of the stress of strong emotion. An example of this is when Anna excited to such a high pitch during her pregnancy dances naked in her bedroom and in this almost mad fit ignores her stunned husband. Hence, in this novel, we not only get the story of three sets of lovers over three generations but we progressively explore the changing relationship of lovers till we reach Ursula who is a symbol of the emancipated modem woman who liberates herself from all the humanities, and who looks hopefully to the new world which would be borne out of the death and ugliness wrought by the mechanical industrialism of today with a renewed vision.

The Style.

      The Rainbow is generally considered one of Lawrence’s major achievements, what is perhaps most striking in the scope of the novel, for in chronicling the history of the Brang wens, Lawrence achieves far more than the story of a single family. The early Brangwens in particular are seen as representative human beings, set within the seasonal cycle, tilling the earth and tending the cattle until the building of the canal in 1840 heralds the on-set of industrialization. As the novel progresses, however, it is Man set in his perspective in the cosmic order that is emphasized. Tom Brangwen looks up at the stars while he is about his regular farm business and understands that he is :

“Only fragmentary, something incomplete and subject. There were the stars in the dark heaven traveling, the whole host passing by on some eternal voyage. So he sat small and submissive to the greater ordering.”

      So the cosmic imagery takes its place in the novel. Chapter I closes, not with Tom's proposal to Lydia, but with his walk home afterward when the sky and the clouds are made radiant by the 'liquid-brilliant' moon scudding across the night. There are many night scenes in the novel, the most memorable probably being the moon-light stooking scene of Chapter IV which ends in Will's proposal to Anna. Then again in Chapter XV when Ursula and Skrebensky spend a summer night on the downs, the scene expands in time and space into a mirroring of the dawning of mankind. The cosmic imagery is reinforced by the imagery of birth and creativity and of light and dark which occurs throughout the book.

      Further, the language used by Lawrence serves the purpose of enriching the story, giving insights into character that simple, non-symbolic language is unable to give, inlaying the plot with levels of understanding that transcend the chronicled history giving it a spiritual significance.

The Flaws.

      Arnold Bennett criticizing the novel for formlessness said that in the novel, there was an over-elaboration of incidents which have no great significance to justify it. Secondly, there were sudden, unexpected and illogical changes in the behaviors of the characters. Thirdly, there was the absence of a definite end of the plot to which the beginning and the middle of the plot should inevitably lead. Thus, one can say that there are grounds for its criticism of being repetitive and over-written. There are also times when the language becomes tedious, when the high-flown style ceases to contribute new ideas but merely offers the old again in repetitious fashion. Most irritating is the use of 'catch words’ such as 'to know her own maximum self and as 'maximum': That Ursula wishes 'to know her own maximum self is understandable but is there real meaning in 'Sunday remained the maximum day of the week ?

      Then, Lawrence has also been criticized for his tendency to obtrude himself too much on our attention with the result that it becomes difficult to distinguish the characters from the author. Lawrence, has the habit of identifying himself with character in love and it is in his own words that he presents their emotions and changing moods. The dramatic way of character depiction in minimized and militates against our impression that characters are living and independent and are developing along their own lines. In spite of all this criticism it can be said that the novel with all its faults is better than an emasculated version lacking all beauties.

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